Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Road Trip With Carol, Part 2: Chattanooga, TN: Delta Queen Hotel

Sunrise at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

My mother, Carol, and I are on a road trip that takes us through North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Chattanooga, we stayed at the Delta Queen Hotel, permanently moored on the Tennessee River, alongside the pleasing Coolidge Park with its fountain, walking/biking trails, and green space.

People who reconstitute historic structures can go so many ways to salvage a place. There's renovation, preservation, reproduction, rehabilitation, and conservation. A few days earlier, we'd lunched at a "historic" restaurant in Kentucky that still held its plantation-ish exterior, but its insides had drop ceilings, ersatz colonial-style "chandeliers," mediocre local wall art, and institutional-grade carpet.

What a difference between that and the Delta Queen Hotel!

Our room at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The room, albeit tiny, felt luxe.  Looking out the window onto the river reminded me of the luxury of lying back and watching the full moon on that overnight train trip Sandy and I took from Batumi to Tbilisi.

Outside our room at the Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The interior, common areas of the boat glowed with the ambiance of early-20th century salons. Sofas, game tables, dressers, low lighting, tray ceilings, wainscoting.

Common area, Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

On the deck one can rock slowly into a meditative state while boat traffic floats or zooms by, while walkers and bikers cross the pedestrian bridge, while cars and trucks thrum over the other bridge. Looking across the river is a bank of new construction that is reminiscent of Dutch or Eastern European waterside apartment buildings.

One of the decks, Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

On a clear night, the stars compete with the lights on the bridges.  


View from the deck, Delta Queen Hotel, Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee

People who love the Delta Queen had to have played a part in preserving what made it the Delta Queen when it was in its prime. Beautifully done.

Gifts like this - being able to spend the night on a historic riverboat at a price that is affordable for many - don't last forever. I wouldn't delay in spending at least one night here in the near future.

Some notes:

  • The hotel is not accessible for the wheelchair-bound. I don't know if there is an accessible sleeping room for individuals who have other kinds of access issues. 
  • There is pretty good wifi available in the common areas, including on the deck.
  • No TVs or phones in the rooms. There are a couple of TVs in the lounge. 
  • Parking is a pretty far piece from the boat, so pack lightly for your stay and leave the bulkier stuff in your vehicle. 
  • The location of the boat is fabulous - on walking trails and near restaurants and night life. 

A slide show:


Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Road Trip With Carol, Part 1: Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky: Perspectives

Pinnacle Overlook, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

My mother, Carol, and I are on a road trip that takes us through North Carolina and Tennessee.

Perspectives: Elevation

Carol and I drove up and up and up Skyland Road to Pinnacle Overlook (which is actually in Virginia), within the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. We got out of the car and walked to the signage that told us about Pinnacle Overlook and its elevation. Elevation = 2440 feet. Wait, what? Is that 2440 feet from the point where we stood to the pinnacle? Or was that 2440 total, from the base of the mountain to the peak?

Having just come from a year in Alamogordo, in the high desert, at an elevation of 4336, within 13 miles of the 9,000-foot level town of Mayhill, I felt disoriented.

It took awhile for my brain to recompute and realize that the baseline for Kentucky and nearabouts is less than 600 feet above sea level ..... ohhhhh.

Visually, then, the Appalachians and Smokies look of similar height as the Sacramentos, et al in New Mexico - it's the starting point that differs.

Pinnacle Overlook, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

Perspectives: History

In New Mexico, I was struck by the viscous nature of what we call history. More to come on that in future.

But in the meantime, the Cumberland Gap Visitor Center had a Civil War-related exhibit upstairs. The exhibit described the racism that existed in Kentucky before, during, and following the Civil War. I admired how matter-of-fact the text was - no sensationalism and no sugar coating.

Read for yourself:

Exhibit, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

Exhibit, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

I'm processing the idea of historical trauma, a term I heard at a talk at the Bosque Redondo Memorial Site outside Fort Sumner, New Mexico. (Post to come.) I do support the historical trauma concept, and the African American experience is an example of same.  Although it doesn't use the term "historical trauma," the Cumberland Gap exhibit describes one section of the generational trauma. 

Funny thing, though, hardly any photos of African Americans at the exhibit.

And oh yeah, ditto for women of any complexion.

History, that elusive tale.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lupus, Missouri: The Chili Fest, Part 4: The Music

The Harvest Season, Lupus Chili Fest, Lupus, Missouri 2013

I'm saved!

Sometimes when you listen to music, live especially, it pushes against you like an ocean wave or like a force of air, where you feel exhilarated and breathless at the same time, where your head actually falls back a little from the strength of the sound coming at you. 

This is what it felt like in the Lupus Garage when The Harvest Season played, as the band's flow rolled up and back in small waves, then pounded the shore in a rush against the beach.

If they had been calling to people at the back of the church to come to Jesus, why, I might have been tempted to do just that.

Sadly, this experience isn't replicated in the recorded version of their music, so, well, you just had to be there. Glad I was.

I'm so happy!

This is what an audience member cried out at one point while Todd Day Waits and Pigpen got down.

And everybody laughed, because it was true.

I cannot imagine the band ever hearing a more appreciative audience than it did on that night in the dusty ol' Lupus Garage.

Member George (new?), on the fiddle and with back-up vocal, adds a dimension to the band that's not on the recordings I've heard.

Below is a sample of who performed at the Lupus Chili Fest 2013. Have a listen:

Hooten Hallers

The Kay Brothers

The Flood Brothers

Dubb Nubb

John Galbraith

The Harvest Season

Don Nails and the Broke Ass Band

The Woodsmiths

Anna Soulstice

Ruth Acuff

Dave & Dyno and the Roadkill Orchestra

Cindy Woolf

Boone Howlers

Mark Bilyeu

Violet Vonder Haar

A slideshow of the Lupus Chili Fest 2013 below:

Lupus Chili Fest


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lupus, Missouri: The Chili Fest, Part 3: Before You Die

Lupus, Missouri. Lupus Chili Fest 2013.

Not long before the Lupus Chili Fest on October 19, I saw a list of Places You Must Visit Before You Die. Can't find the exact source, but there are many of these kinds of lists, and most of the usual suspects were on this recent one, too, now lost - the Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, etc. ....

I'd say: Add the Lupus Chili Fest to one's life list of things to see before one dies.

You can't substitute big-time music events for this and get the same experience. The Lupus Chili Fest is all about small scale with big sound. Heck, the town doesn't even really advertise the event; it's mostly about tradition and word of mouth.

Lupus, Missouri. Lupus Chili Fest 2013.

It's a festival where one of the music venues is in a garage where the musicians and the chairs are set up admidst typical garage stuff that has just been pushed out of the way a little bit to make space.

Where every person jammed into the garage is hopping or tapping or swaying, where the band members break into pleased grins because of the enthusiasm of their audience. Where, at one point, a guy in the audience calls out after a particularly terrific riff, I'm so happy!

Where the main stage has a bonfire in front of it and a barn with multi-colored vines behind it, and where the train roars by every so often about 500 yards away.

Where people camp along the river in tiny tents or RVs. Or in their cars.

Lupus, Missouri. Lupus Chili Fest 2013.

And where volunteers serve up homemade chili made with donated beef and other goods.

Lupus, Missouri. Lupus Chili Fest 2013.

It should be on everyone's bucket list.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lupus, Missouri: The Chili Fest, Part 2: The Town

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

The annual Lupus Chili Fest occurs on the weekend closest to October's full moon. In 2013, the chili fest happened on October 19.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

The town only has a population of about 30, but it swells into the thousand-person mark during the festival. The festival proceeds are invested into the town for things such as road maintenance.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

The town's on the Missouri River. Some festival attendees float or motor boat to the event.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

I suspect Lupus is similar to Columbus, New Mexico, in that the residents like being out of the way and they value the idea of live and let live.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

One of the cool things about the town and its presentation of the music festival is the lack of pretense, and furthermore, there isn't even an attitude about the lack of pretense. It's just, we hope you enjoy yourselves, cuz we are, and we're glad you're here

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

Throughout the year, the Lupus General Store is the living-roomy venue for performances by regional or national musicians, heavy on the original songwriting.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

Even in late October, the Lupus gardens flashed with profuse color, high and low. 

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

Lupus, Missouri, Chili Fest weekend, October, 2013.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lupus, Missouri: The Chili Fest, Part 1: Birds A' Singin'

Migrating birds, Highway 179, Missouri

Migrating birds, Highway 179, Missouri

Migrating birds, Highway 179, Missouri

On my way to the Lupus Chili Fest, I saw these birds on Highway 179, between Highways 87 and P.

Birds and blues kinda go together, I think.

Missouri is on the Central Flyway Route for migratory birds.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Mexico: Unidentified Effluvia

Soon after I moved to Alamogordo, I visited the Alamogordo Primate Facility.

I saw these two (?) samples of poop on the sidewalk outside the facility.

Have yet to identify it (them). But it still intrigues.

Unidentified poop, Alamogordo, New Mexico. 

A loose end.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mayhill, New Mexico: A Bend in the Road

Mayhill, New Mexico

Mayhill, New Mexico, is almost literally a bend in the road.

On the day I stopped in Mayhill, I was on my way back to Alamogordo from Artesia. It was August, I think. Maybe September.

The distance between Artesia and Alamogordo, all on Highway 82, is 110 miles.

In that 110 miles, I passed through:
  • Roswell Basin
  • Pecos Slope
  • Sacramento Mountains
  • Chihuahua desert
This always amazed me.

View Larger Map

Anyway, one day, after a particularly hot day in Artesia, as I approached Mayhill, I saw there was a small concert.

Mayhill, New Mexico

Right in the middle of town. Which is to say, right along the side of the road.

I parked the car, pulled out a camp chair from my trunk, and ambled across the road to the grassy lot and listened to some good country music.

Presently, I continued on my way to Alamogordo. The concert in shady-cool Mayhill was like an icy drink on a hot and sweaty day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

White Sands: But Pink

Just before I left New Mexico, I visited White Sands for the last time.

It was at dusk. It glowed pink.

White Sands at dusk, New Mexico. September 2013.

Here's a slide show of all my White Sands photos:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Mexico: A Drive Home

Highway 82, between High Rolls and Alamogordo, New Mexico. October 2012.

Whenever I drove home to Alamogordo down from Cloudroft or other parts east on Highway 82, I'd think, when I got to this spot: Wow, I live here.

Highway 82, between High Rolls and Alamogordo, New Mexico. October 2012.

It was always uplifting to see the White Sands. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1000th Blog Post

Highway 380, New Mexico

Yesterday I published my 1000th blog post.

Hoo wee!

Here's what I wrote after my 500th post

I recently published my 500th post since this blog began on September 28, 2010.
In the 18 months since then, I:

I am a lucky woman.

Another beautiful event occurred in these last 18 months: My daughter and son-in-law adopted their foster son, making legal what had already been a loving parent-child relationship for four years. 

Join me on the ferry as we island-hop outside Istanbul 


1000th Blog Post

It's now been 3 years and one month since I went rootless. And since my 500th blog post, I:
  • Spent three weeks in Istanbul 
  • Lived in New Mexico for a year (how quickly it flew!)
  • Got a job teaching English online to adult professionals in more than 10 countries
  • Am about to relocate to my next one-year residence, this time in Lafayette, Louisiana

Come with me on a carriage tour of Heybeliada Island outside Istanbul

There was another lovely addition to the family: My daughter and son-in-law adopted their foster daughter! This only formalized the heart relationship that was already there.  


Monday, October 14, 2013

Highway 3, New Mexico: Red and Yellow and Blue and White

Highway 3, New Mexico

New Mexico's Highway 3 isn't all that long, but it reveals surprises. Nice surprises.

Red, red rock, red dirt.

Highway 3, New Mexico

Yellow troops of autumn flowers that mass along the road, like you're in Oz.

Highway 3, New Mexico

Gentle upswellings of road, then down again. Soft curves.

Villages: Ribera, Pueblo, Villanueva, Encino, Duran. With hidden communities veering off the highway on gravel roads.

San Miguel del Vado Catholic Church, Highway 3, Ribera, New Mexico

White and gray-lined clouds standing by in a crisply blue sky.

Highway 3, New Mexico

A slide show:



Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Woman of a Certain Age: No Young Lady


The first few times a woman is called "ma'am," yes, it makes one wince. The transition from ingenue to mature woman is a little painful. But over time, one becomes accustomed to ma'am and even comes to appreciate the term for the respect it tenders.

But there is no justification for calling a woman over the age of 18 "young lady." Especially, especially if it comes from a man younger than the woman. There is no respect in this usage. Indeed, it infantilizes a grown woman. The act is particularly egregious when said in the workplace by one professional (in name only) to another. Yes, I've had that happen. (I've also had a CEO pull my hair playfully, as if I were a child, when I asked him a work-related question.)

To add insult to injury, I've found no way to express my dislike for this term without it resulting in blowback from the offender.

Some argue that they mean no harm. I'll accept that at face value; I'm sure they don't mean any harm. But intent is not relevant.

Just stop doing it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Artesia, New Mexico: Sidewalk Rolling

Architecture, good, in Artesia, New Mexico. Hotel Artesia.

Blew through Artesia twice while in New Mexico.

In-town attention grabbers

Artesia, New Mexico

The first day I went through, I didn't have time to stop, but I was so taken with the public sculptures, and later learned that they tell a story of the area's history and they make for a nice walking tour.

The second time I went through, I did have time, and I parked downtown with the intent to explore. Holy gee, it was hot on this Saturday afternoon! And damned if most of the stores weren't closed! Talk about rolling up the sidewalks.

Artesia, New Mexico

The heat and lack of open businesses pushed me back into my car and on my way west toward home.

Alas, even City of Dust has nothing on Artesia. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Mexico: On Being an Artist

Art in Holy Trinity Park, Taos, New Mexico

When I studied for my CELTA in Playa del Carmen three years ago, I participated in a conversation about living somewhere versus visiting somewhere, which I repeat below:
What's the difference between living somewhere and visiting somewhere?
I don't think I'd ever considered the question until the other day, when Paige mentioned to Maria and me that she'd lived in Brazil. For whatever reason, this perked up my ears and I asked how long she'd lived there. She said five months. And I wondered aloud, "How do you decide if you've lived some place"?
Maria and Paige seemed to agree that it is the individual who decides if s/he has "lived" somewhere, although having actually rented a place (versus staying in a hotel) and making that your base also seem to be factors.There may also be a presumed minimum duration of stay. Paige suggested that she is living in Playa. After all, she is staying in one place (as in, she has a base) and renting a condo. The fact that it is only for a month is not the determining factor.
On the surface, this may seem like a pretty esoteric question.

But it's not. It has practical application. For example, don't most of us think and act differently when we live somewhere versus when we visit somewhere? This colors what we see, how we connect with others, what we do every day, how we think about where we are.  
A Thorn Tree thread took up this question recently.

With me being rootless, do I want to think as a resident or as a visitor when I go somewhere new?

Art at Pink Schoolhouse Gallery, Tres Piedras, New Mexico

So it is in New Mexico. If you say you're an artist, then you are an artist.

Indeed, in New Mexico, virtually everyone is an artist. Pick your medium - painting, jewelry-making, pottery making, writing, music, weaving, sculpting, carving, photography  - it's all there.

Art in Mesilla, New Mexico

There is bad art, mediocre art, good art, exceptional art, puzzling art, provocative art, heartbreaking art, and outsider art in New Mexico. Quality isn't the driving force - if you call yourself an artist, then that's what you are.    

Art on Highway 3, New Mexico

Living in New Mexico freed me to identify myself unabashedly as an artist.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vaughn, New Mexico: Drive Through Shots

Vaughn, New Mexico

I always meant to take time out in Vaughn for a thorough look-see, but I didn't follow through.

It's a classic Route 66-ish town. 

View Larger Map

A few shots, all from the same decrepit building:

Vaughn, New Mexico

Vaughn, New Mexico

Vaughn, New Mexico

Vaughn, New Mexico

 Let's see, has my parallel self already done a story on Vaughn? Why, yes he has!