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Wow, in the last few days I've watched about 8 hours of Netflix stuff set in the old country (my peeps are from Sweden, yo) and damn, it's beautiful there. It's odd to watch a movie set there, though. The sun just never sets, and everyone looks more and more tired and nighttime things happen and still there is this infernal sun! I understand the concept of the midnight sun, and I've watched Insomnia, but it's interesting when you see a lot of it all at once. I've finished watching "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and the first season of "Wallander". Wallander was much more visually arresting; so scenic it hurts. The ocean, farms miles wide, twisty little roads, blue blue blue sky, every shot arranged to be as slap-you-in-the-face gorgeous as possible. Super saturated, too, so the colors were just wow. Nice contrast to Kenneth Branagh's tired face.

And the interiors were all awesome, too.

Perhaps some day I'll have to visit. Do a little research first. And probably stick to the south. I think my people are from the north, but again I'd have to do some research. Swanson isn't exactly a unique name.

Definitely on the life list!
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Last night I finally got sick of being cold, whipped out my credit card, and bought some plane tickets. The decision: Austin TX for the week of March 24-31. When Patrick and I drove cross-country a couple of years ago we only grazed Texas, stopping in Amarillo for a couple of hours. I really liked what I saw of the Southwest as we drove through it, so now I'll get the chance to see a lot more of it and take pictures, etc. Psyched!

I'd appreciate any and all advice on what to see and do! I am aware that I'm going the week after SXSW. It's intentional!
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I've finally posted another batch of photos from my trip last summer. This batch is from New Mexico to Arizona, with a bunch of pictures from the Painted Desert. Here's a set from there:

Painted Desert

A few behind the cut )

And more to come soon!
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Behind a cut, because their server sucks! )

Well, this year added quite a few states to my "where I've been in the U.S." list. Kind of funny the straight line across the country my route created, but if this showed just the actual route instead of the whole states, it would be ONE ROAD for a huge chunk of it. I probably shouldn't claim Wisconsin, but I spent many hours there — probably more than I've spent in Rhode Island or Delaware, so why not.

Goals for next year: More states! Spend more time in the ones I've already visited.

Trip Pix

Sep. 13th, 2006 10:42 pm
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Another installment in my trip pictures. This is just thru Texas; the next batch will start in the desert...mmm, desert. In the meantime:

Cadillac Ranch


Cadillac Ranch
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Part Two of my photos are up -- Arkansas thru Oklahoma. Next up: Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona!

A preview!


14_Oval Office


If you'd prefer to view the commentary for the pictures, go here.
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Thanks to the remnants of Ernesto hitting Boston, I am in Milwaukee waiting for a rain-delayed plane home. My flight was supposed to be one plane with three stops: two quick ones in Kansas and Milwaukee before ending up in Boston. I wouldn't have to deplane, my luggage wouldn't go astray, it was a tiny bit longer flying time than other flights, but with stopovers on other flights it really didn't work out to longer overall.

Except now for the rain! Feh! Ah well, I get to add another state to my tally of "where I've been in the US" -- I now can claim Wisconsin. I can't claim Kansas because honestly, I didn't get out of the plane. You can't count that. But three hours of listening to flat Wisconsin announcers telling me to not leave my luggage unattended allows me a little liberty, here.

Oh, and I like Midwest! The seats are comfy! The cookies are good! Ok, I've been delayed on two out of the three stops I was supposed to take today, but...they have cookies! :-)

I got this pay-wifi at the airport (the General Mitchell International Airport) because at least I can listen to the Red Sox while I suffer in the Land of Cheese. I should see if I can pirate some electricity soon; left my phone on in my carryon while we were in flight, and it spent the three hours looking for a signal, so now it's all "battery VERY low" and red and angry.

My trip will be over soon. I think.
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EDITED TO ADD: Vegas breakfast. Seemed like a great idea to go to another buffet. We decided on the Bellagio, because isn't that what one does? So we did. Except after finally parking and trudging through the gamblers and tossing aside the showgirls and waiting in a too-long-for-breakfast-seriously line, we got to the cashier, said "One for the buffet!" and she replied "That will be $31.50." I gasped, said "For BREAKFAST?!?!" and she snapped "Holiday Brunch!"

Well. 9am on a Saturday morning is brunch? And the holiday is Monday, bitch. So we left. McDonald's will do us just fine, thanks. Which we did. And then drove away very fast. Byebye, Vegas! END EDIT

LA, on the other hand, was fun! Brief, but fun! We rolled in around 2pm from Vegas, and met Derek at Toi, a pretty good Thai place somewhere in the wilds of Los Angeles. We needed Derek's GPS thingie and two cell calls just to get there, but we finally made it and ate ourselves silly. Mmmmm.

After saying bye to Derek and making him give us more directions a la GPS to our potential hotel, we headed off to the Rodeway Inn near LAX. And then we quickly LEFT the Rodeway Inn next to LAX, as the guy pissed us off and we got a "this place is skeezy" vibe. Instead, we drove down the street to Comfort Inn (again!) and were much happier. Patrick: "So, when the choice is 'Comfort Inn or XXX' let's just do the Comfort Inn." Me: "yeah." This blog entry brought to you by Choice Hotels!

We checked in, flopped for a while, then headed out for a quick car tour of West Hollywood and all the famous spots you'd think of. We couldn't really face more food after the stuffing ourselves incident of earlier, so instead we got some convenience store stuff (soda and candy, whoo!) and went back to the hotel. I needed to re-pack for my early am flight, and P was tired anyway. Suzanne called, warning me of the horrors of LAX and advising me to go early early early to get through security. We chatted a while, then P came scratching at my door, wanting to order delivery.

We got a pizza, chatted, and then bid each other goodbye. My plane was at 9am, and there was a shuttle from the hotel that I could take for free, so I didn't need to get P up at dawn (just me!).

I woke up early, of course. [I haven't actually flown in about 10 years. I love planes and flying, but for the last 10 years I was finishing undergrad school, getting a grad degree, and after that I was working my day job and teaching my night job -- no time for plane-type vacations! And no money, thanks to stupid student loans. So...I was pretty excited to get on a plane again.] The elevator was broken at the hotel, so I had to drag my two huge bags down several flights of stairs. The shuttle was there, but the driver wasn't, so as I checked out I asked the idiotic desk clerk (he was talking on two phones to two different friends when I walked in, and made me wait at least two minutes before he'd wait on me. Punk!) to find the driver.

Turns out the guy was just getting breakfast in the next room, so he loaded me into the shuttle and took off -- just me, my own personal shuttle! Took me right to my terminal, carried my bags to the door, and then wished me a good flight and split.

So it was 6:10am (the hotel was very close to LAX), and there was exactly one person ahead of me in line at Midwest. It took about three minutes to check in, then I had to bring my checked luggage to the x-ray. That took about 20 seconds, I cleared, and they checked my bag. I then was directed to the other security area, had to shed my shoes, put my laptop in a bin, and send my camera bag through the scanner. I didn't beep on anything, so by 6:20 I was inside the terminal. I called Mom, had a frappuccino and a scone, drank some water, then boarded my plane about an hour and a half later. We had a delay on the tarmac of about 45 minutes, but we still got into Kansas on time. And that was LA!
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Up early again, hit the hotel breakfast, and then hit the road for Vegas. Was very excited to see that the road to Vegas goes over the Hoover Dam! Stopped and took another bunch of pictures.

We got to Vegas and had a little trouble looking for the hotel, but eventually found it. We're in a Comfort Inn directly across from the Hard Rock -- where, as P mentioned, Tool is playing very loudly. Otherwise the hotel is very nice: kitchenette, high speed Internet, king-sized bed.

Lunch being as mediocre as it was (the Pink Taco at the Hard Rock, mentioned by P -- not good), we decided we wanted something really good for dinner. We debated a bunch of different buffet options and settled on the Paris, and it was really delicious. I admit to overdoing it a bit on the dessert side...

We then wandered around the strip and took some pictures, then pooped out like the pathetic old people we are. Back to the hotel, to curse that Loud Rock and Roll and Those Damned Kids.

Tomorrow, the end of our journey -- Los Angeles!
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Still in Flagstaff this evening. We decided that having a tiny bit of stability would be a good idea, so this morning we told the hotel we'd be staying a second night.

The day started out raining, so we wondered if perhaps we wouldn't go to the Canyon after all, but thankfully it cleared soon after breakfast (MartAnne's, a Mexican breakfast joint. Good food, but very spicy! Seems to have a young, alterna-type clientele).

We headed up to Grand Canyon and got there midday. Spent a few hours looping around the driving part of the park, took tons of pictures. Very beautiful. I would love to travel down in the canyon some day, go along the Colorado -- or maybe ON the Colorado! Anyway, it was pretty swell. The weather was alternately sunny and rainy, so the lighting was sometimes very flat, sometimes very dramatic.

We entered the park at the South Rim Entrance, so we left by the Desert View end. That's the East Entrance, and takes you down rte 64 to rte 89. Much more scenic and very Arizona feeling -- all flat and deserty and red stripey mountains and winding scary road. Lots of other deep holes in the ground to see, too. Definitely the way to go if visiting the park from Flagstaff.

We got back to the hotel, and since it was only 4pm we decided naps were in order. I'm not really good at napping, so I called Mom, called Mary Ellen, sent some more post cards, started getting my photos in order, played around looking for hotels for Vegas, generally puttered. Soon it was dinner time, and then back to puttering.

Part 1 of my photos are now up. Only covers Boston to the beginning of Arkansas, so there's a lot more to post. More tomorrow, unless shiny Vegas distracts me!

TN Rest Area
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Today was pretty good. Up at 8 and to breakfast (yay, more waffles!), on the road by 9. Stopped at a couple of rest stops — the one just over the border into Arizona was nice — and had lunch at Subway with about 25 women of a certain age (we speculated that they were having a reunion, or that they all worked together — but it remains a mystery).

Patrick finally decided that I could drive for a while, but we went about one exit before I noticed a sign for the Petrified Forest, so I pulled in and we decided to go. Patrick resumed driving duties so I could take pictures — but of course he never relinquished them later...you may draw your own conclusions.

The Petrified Forest was pretty cool — it's a small corner of the larger Painted Desert, and it totally lives up to its name. The park itself is pretty nice; about 28 miles of access road that you can drive through and stop at nice little parking areas to see stuff. I took a ton of pictures, of course. Very quiet there — only a few people walking around with us, some stops no one at all, so there was no traffic noise, and pretty much no animal noise either. I've lived in either cities or suburbs my entire life and have never really heard this kind of deep silence — silence that isn't just local to me, silence that is as far as the ear can hear. Very impressive.

Incidentally, I am convinced that there are no animals left in the wild at all. Other than domesticated cows, horses and dogs, I've seen several dead things, a lizard, several beetles, many flies, a bunch of hawks and crows, and a deer. Wherefore is this nature of which I've heard? Patrick, that rat fink, saw a fox today, but naturally I missed it. He also saw a bunch of dead armadillos along the roads in Arkansas, which I am happy to have missed.

I am in a Quality Inn in Flagstaff right now, which is 6.5 hours from LA, 4 hours from Vegas, making us basically done with the required driving part of our trip. We're doing the Grand Canyon tomorrow, which I'm pretty excited about. The Petrified Forest really whet my appetite for looking at scenery. The weather is supposed to be good in the morning, so I think we'll get an early start for the Canyon. It's a Thursday, so here's hoping most of the tourists aren't here yet for Labor Day weekend, and all the ones with kids are already back in school. Go, school! I'm certain it will probably be pretty busy, though, being one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I don't suppose you get days off.

Had dinner at a place recommended by the hotel staff, Buster's, which was a little high-end, and the food was very California. So that was sort of mediocre. But the rest of the day was good!

I spent tonight writing post cards I should have been sending all along, so again with the no pictures. Tomorrow, for sure.
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I am having weird technology issues this week -- one of my digital cameras was having issues, my phone keeps having issues, and now my laptop won't connect to the wireless internet access at the hotel tonight. Fortunately, Patrick let me use his extra computer so I could check email and update here -- but once again I won't be able to upload my pictures. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Today we left OK and drove to Texas, where we had lunch at the Big Texan in Amarillo (very kitschy, but really good prime rib), went to the Cadillac Ranch (muddy, and kind of disappointing), and then hit the road for points west.

Texas is really really wide open. Really! Lots of grass and cows. A few fences. That's it! I liked it, though, unlike Arkansas. Sorry Arkansas!

New Mexico is pretty -- looks like the desert that I've always had in my head. More scrubby and hilly than flat and grassy, and very green, at least where we've been. Looking forward to Arizona and the Painted Desert.

Determined to get my $65 worth (bastards!) of amenities, tonight I took a swim in the hotel indoor pool, a soak in the hotel hot tub (also indoor, alas), and now I'm using the hotel laundry facilities to wash everything I've used so far. Have the AC cranked, charging all my cameras, phone, PC, etc., running the teevee, several lights, using all the towels, everything I can. I am an expensive hotel guest! Tomorrow I will eat more waffles and take some road food, too. Foo on you, Comfort Inn (actually, they're quite nice. I just think this one's overpriced..)

Tomorrow we drive to Arizona, then Thursday we'll see the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. Yay!
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Things I Thought Today:

[livejournal.com profile] p_j_cleary and I found ourselves muttering the unlikely phrase "Tennessee is the jewel of the entire mid-South" over and over.

Virginia is a vast wasteland of cows, trees, grass, horses, and not another fucking thing. You'd think that would be nice. Which it is, for about 50 miles. There are a lot of miles in Virginia.

Someone needs to tell Arkansas that all of it that's along Route 40 sucks. Because I'm pretty sure it doesn't know, and it probably should come from someone who cares. Also, what's with the obsession with porn, Arkansas? And must you put padlocks on your toilet paper dispensers in your rest areas? Padlocks?

Oklahoma really likes its casinos, possibly competing with Arkansas and its porn fixation in the Sinning Olympics. The Bible belt is fun!

We decided also that Patrick has agoraphobia and anxiety -- and I'm pretty sure I have ADHD, Asperger's, apnea, and asthma. We're hoping a new state will bring relief, or at least a new letter.

I'm in a somewhat damp Days Inn in Shawnee, and I'm so tired I can't upload pictures right now. More later!

Turn Here

Aug. 10th, 2006 01:42 am
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Turn Here is a pretty cool travel video site that showcases different neighborhoods, including Boston. They seem to be professionally produced shorts, but there is a call for amateur talent on the splash page. Beware, there are some "sponsored" videos (Hi, Redbones!) but they're tidily separated from the others on the "locations" page, and clearly tagged.

Seems to be predominantly U.S. and Canadian cities, but there are some from Brazil, Japan, and Thailand, too. Neat!
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I don't know why, but the Park Slope area of Brooklyn seems to be stalking me lately! First some of the various apartments in the apartment site that [livejournal.com profile] livingdeb linked to are in Park Slope; then a few days ago I was listening to the radio and they had a cutesy story about a bar in the Park Slope area that had a happy hour for parents every week — that they can bring their small children to. And now THIS, a classic email list exchange between various parents from the Park Slope area — all about a hat.

Park Slope, BACK OFF! I don't like you like that! Can't we just be friends?
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We Take a NY Taxi!
Originally uploaded by Laurie Lee.
Reflecting on our current disaster has me remembering September of 2001. I realized recently that we were actually in New York a few weeks after 9/11 to see a friend's show, and I took a few pictures then. I remember refusing to take disaster-related pictures then, as it seemed too invasive--rude, almost. But I did take a few.

Here we were, riding in a NY cab for the first time. Again, cleverly, I am not actually in the picture...
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Richard The Last
Originally uploaded by Laurie Lee.
Three years ago I climbed into my trusty Honda with my friend Dan and headed for the big city to catch my favorite performer, Richard Thompson, in a fairly unique show. Called "1,000 Years of Popular Music," the show was a collection of cover songs from the last thousand years, and was quite great.

He's got the CD of the show available (he's his own label now, after a 30 year career with various labels), and I was listening to it today and felt compelled to put up some pictures from the show. Tomorrow I will probably post pictures from the same day around the City.

Plug: If you like great guitars, interesting vocals and amazing, dark, gloomy lyrics, Richard's your guy. I've never seen a bad show of his, and I've seen him a lot! /Plug

Together

Aug. 25th, 2005 02:08 am
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Together
Originally uploaded by Laurie Lee.
I went to Provincetown for the day with Patrick, and we saw some stuff. There's a set of photos here.

Flickr is pretty fun if you use tags. I did a search on "Provincetown" and honestly, everyone takes the same five pictures... I almost needn't have bothered. Of course, then there are Patrick's pictures, where we really DID take all the same shots...

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