Friday, November 27, 2020

Alabama: State Parks Mission

 

Tannehill Iron Works Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Tannehill Iron Works Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

One of my goals in New Mexico (2012-2013) was to visit all of its state parks. I almost achieved that goal, falling short only by three. 

Alabama is a wondrously pretty state. It offers 21 state parks. In 2007, per this report from Resources For the Future, Alabama had the fewest number of state parks in the nation. Here, Alabama isn't last, but it's in the bottom five. 

Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad - the raw numbers take into account neither the per capita number of parks in each state nor the geographic size of each state. For all I know, Alabama has the highest number of state parks per capita in the US. 

Mission: Visit all of Alabama's state parks. 

Alabama State Parks Location Map

But wait a dadgum minute! 

I don't see Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park on Alabama's official list of state parks. Surprisingly, Alabama's state park website doesn't seem to have a search feature, so I can't coax it out of hiding there. 

Thank goodness for wikipedia, which provides two databases: Alabama state parks and "other" "state" parks. Tannehill is in the "other" list. "Other" state parks are under shared or other management.


For my (and maybe your) future reference

A list view in alpha order from the StateParks.com Alabama page:

  1. Bladon Springs State Park
  2. Blue Springs State Park
  3. Cathedral Caverns
  4. Chattahoochee State Park
  5. Cheaha State Park
  6. Chewacla State Park
  7. Chickasaw State Park
  8. Claude D Kelley State Park
  9. De Soto State Park
  10. Elk River Lodge State Park
  11. Florala State Park
  12. Gulf State Park
  13. Joe Wheeler State Park
  14. Lake Guntersville State Park
  15. Lake Lurleen State Park
  16. Monte Sano State Park
  17. Oak Mountain State Park
  18. Paul M Grist State Park
  19. Rickwood Caverns State Park
  20. Roland Cooper State Park
  21. Tannehill State Park (my first visit here)
  22. W F Jackson State Park
  23. Wind Creek State Park


P.S. 

I hope Alabama will change the name of Tannehill's entrance road from Confederate Parkway to something that respects the work of the enslaved women and men who performed the manual labor at the ironworks. Or a name that honors the natural beauty of the park.

 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Alabama: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 888: Thanksgiving on the Appalachian Tail

 

Yes, that's Tail, not Trail. 

 

Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


The southernmost tip of the Appalachian Mountain range

It delights me that I can stand at the tail end of the Appalachian Mountain range in my current state of Alabama. Doing so became my mission for Thanksgiving 2020 in the Year of Our Corona.

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is where it happens - or happened, in geological terms.

The park hopped with Thanksgiving visitors seeking a holiday respite from COVID, as evidenced by the line of cars that preceded and followed me on the entrance road.

It befuddled me that I passed this Appalachian Mountain range sign on my way to the park entrance booth. As I drove by it, I thought, Wait! Was that it?! What? No, of course not. Surely, not.  

No, I imagined, the "real" marker is in the park proper, where you and your posse can take a group photo showing y'all have Been There. 

Or you (actually, me) can simply stand at various points relative to the sign and contemplate the grandeur of the Appalachians and how one is actually at the southernmost tip of them. It would be akin to standing on the southernmost tip of Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego, on the above-water foot of the Andes, though admittedly not as sexy. 

But I was wrong; the roadside sign was the marker. 


Alabama does not like shoulders

I walked carefully to the sign after I parked my car in the lot beyond the fee booth. I walked carefully because Alabama disdains shoulders, and maybe pedestrians, too: If we wanted y'all to walk on the road, we'd'a built y'all some shoulders!

Alabama's shoulder issue first confronted me when I visited Oxford, Alabama, in July, and I attempted to walk alongside a road near my motel. Not being ready to bite the dust literally or figuratively that day, I abandoned my attempt soon after I began, hoping I wouldn't die during my retreat. 

If you think that Alabama might set aside its shoulder prejudice to accommodate an Important Marker in a state park (a park, for fuck's sake!), you would be wrong. Nope, the marker is on the relatively-busy entrance to the park, with so little room for a pedestrian to maneuver safely, that one must wonder if the sign's use of the words terminus and end carry any special significance.

A check into Alabama's pedestrian death rate revealed that in 2018, Alabama had the 12th highest pedestrian death rate in the US. This analysis placed it even higher.


Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Appalachian Mountains terminus, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

 

Mushrooms

In another Alabama surprise (its prettiness being the first, and its antipathy toward shoulders being the second), it appears that mushrooms might be my Alabama "thing." In New Mexico, it was sonic booms and tarantulas. In Arizona, it was lizards

While I do adore mushrooms for their sexy, earthy umami-ness, my knowledge of wild mushrooms is low. I know a morel when I see one, but anyone can do that.

In wandering some of Tannehill's trails, I encountered three mushroom types. 

 First I found a giant white that sat on a fat pedestal. 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


Later, a yellow mushroom bottom, textured like a tasty English muffin, beamed sunnily at me from the leafy, woodland floor. I tipped it over to reveal a reddish cap. 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Finally, a gaggle of green scalloped shells clung to a tree next to a pretty ledge. 

 

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Mushrooms, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


COVID detritus

Sadly, I saw two pale yellow paper masks at one of the trailheads. I had nothing to pick them up with other than my bare hands, and I left them lay. I will consider taking a bag and gloves with me in future walks so I can pick up trash like this. 

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
COVID mask at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.


Pumpkins in the stream

Odd. A story there? 

 

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla, Alabama. November 2020.

 

 A park is a good place to spend Thanksgiving. 

 

Thanksgivings from my rootless past: 

  

Below is a slide show of my visit to Tannehill Ironworks Historical Park:

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Lizard in a Mailbox

 

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.


The title says it all. 


Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.

Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.
Lizard in a mailbox, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2020.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Stinkbug

 

Stinkbug in the house. November 2020.
Stinkbug in the house. November 2020.

 

 

I first saw him on my living room blinds. Not doing anything, just sitting there. I left him be.

 Then I saw him up top a living room wall, up close to the ceiling. Not doing anything, just hanging out. I left him be. 

Then I saw him, turtle-like, creeping alongside my PC, by the power cable. I flicked him off the table with my thumb and index finger. Thought I'd sweep him out the front door. I'm a no-kill household as long as invaders are polite and don't startle me. 

But I couldn't discover where he landed, so I left it be. 

Later, I observed him over on a baseboard ledge. 

Haven't seen him since.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Birmingham, AL: A Sunday Afternoon in Railroad Park

 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Despite Sunday's gray chill, I packed a lunch and took it to Railroad Park. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

I planted my car on the park's perimeter, pulled out my 'table,' hung it on the steering wheel, and picnicked inside as folks walked, ran, were strollered, or skimmed smoothly by on their motorized longboards. A young boy, just learning how to ride his boy-sized bike, concentrated on propelling forward while remaining upright; his mother followed on foot. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Because of COVID-19, the park's restrooms are closed, which curtails the length of a visitor's stay at the park. 

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

There are two circle paths, one street level and one elevated. I like that! An elegant allocation of the park's finite green space that delivers two unique lines of sight to park users and offsets trail user congestion.

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

Railroad Park serves up a diverse sensory menu: Trees, water features, rosemary stands, a grassy amphitheater, the paths, cityscape, wood, concrete, metal, sculpture, flowers ...

I plucked three plump rosemary leaves, rolled their little bodies between my thumb and two fingers, and carried them up to my nose for the snap of the eucalyptic-like aroma that the rolling released. I popped them into my mouth to bite on their ripe softness, savoring a burst of their herbal-medicinal flavor.

 

Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.

A coffeehouse, Red Cat, is across the street from Railroad Park, and I realized, hey! I sat right there in late summer, as a fresh arrival to Birmingham, and didn't even notice that it was smack across from a park! Like the young boy on the starter bike, I had concentrated solely on one mission, which in my case, was finding Red Cat to meet a new friend, and then upon arrival, my telescopic focus pivoted to our conversation. Being unaware of one's immediate surroundings is not a good practice, friends.


Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.
Railroad Park in November. Birmingham, Alabama, November 2020.



Sunday, November 15, 2020

Birmingham, AL: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 888: Learning to "Dance" in COVID Times

 

Lincoln University dance recital, Jefferson City, Missouri. April, 2010.
Lincoln University dance recital, Jefferson City, Missouri. April, 2010.


 Before COVID

Since my time in South Louisiana, dancing had comprised a significant portion of my physical exercise, bringing with it a lagniappe of deep pleasure and, often, joy. 

 

Onset of COVID

But in March 2020, while in Tucson, my dance practice plummeted from some to none when COVID-19 slammed that door shut. My body and spirit suffered from the separation.

As I readied for my Tucson departure, the dearth of dance opportunities for the foreseeable future threw up a big ol' DETOUR sign from my original first choice of New Orleans (dance! live music! youthful energy!), pivoting me from one set of destination goals to another, just as worthy.  

 

Living with COVID: A new "dance"

Happily, I have stumbled on a COVID-safe way to dance in Birmingham.

Tennis! 

I began weekly tennis lessons last month via the James Lewis Education and Tennis Foundation. Below is a story of the foundation, executive director and gifted coach, Rudy Lewis, and the foundation's inspiration: 

 



The lessons are outdoors, the skillful coaches wear masks (as do most of the students, including me), and only the coaches are allowed to touch the balls or other tennis paraphernalia with their hands. The coaches sanitize all of the balls and rental rackets prior to the lesson. The pro shop practices a variety of good COVID practices, as well.

I'd never have imagined it, but learning to play tennis feels exactly like learning to dance! (Albeit, with no music, alas.)

Tennis' dance requires me to learn:

  • Signals from my opponent that tell me what their next move might be, such as their body's position, where they are on the court, and the angle of their racket
  • My foot and hip placements in relation to my intermediary "partner," the net
  • My foot movements as I position myself to respond to the ball
  • What I choose to look at before, during, and after my response
  • A graceful, confident completion of my stroke
  • The angle of my racket ("open" or "closed")

You'll notice all of the above relates to me being, let's say, the "follow." This is because I haven't learned how to serve ("lead") yet.

There are even "dynamic" warm-up drills that translate directly to my fitness, flexibility, and dexterity for when dance returns, such as: 

  • Carioca (zydeco!)
  • Side shuffle
  • "A" skips

At least during this honeymoon period, I am in love with tennis and its dance soul. 


Related posts

From South Louisiana

From St. Louis

 


Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Day After They Called the Election: A Subdued Jubilation

 

"What Makes America Great." Artist: Michael D'Antuono
"What Makes America Great." Artist: Michael D'Antuono

 

On Saturday, November 7, 2020, they called the win for Biden-Harris.

A quiet relief filled me, followed by the sobering certainty that most Americans - no, wait - followed by the sobering certainty that a majority of white Americans will fall back into a comfortable somnolence, relieved that things will return to the old normal.

In the old normal, many of us white Americans walked in the special dream state that families of alcoholics or emotional and verbal abusers live in. Where a frothy fog of amnesia settles in, even just a day after our abusers vomit their vitriol on us. Where we want (need!) to dismiss, discount, and deny how wounded all of us are - the targets, the abusers themselves, the bystanders, and the upstanders, so that we can avoid the pain of change from the known to the unknown, in addition to the inevitable, virulent backlash from our abusers (or their proxies).

With Trump dethroned, COVID will still be with us, to be sure, but all the rest of the stressors - Black Lives Matter, children in cages, Karens and Kens, the Wall, Defund the Police, protests (riots!), imprisoned refugees, all those things that make us feel uncomfortable, they will submerge into a dormant state, like a chicken pox virus, the itchiness gone, the red spots faded, thus ignorable. Won't they?

Besides, didn't we settle on Biden because he represented a comforting familiarity? Didn't we approve his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate?! We are pro-woman! We are anti-racist! We did our duty by going to the polls or mailing our ballots and voting Biden in, and now we can relax, right? 

We need the answer to be yes because it is so hard to stay awake, and so easy to follow old scripts. We're mentally and emotionally exhausted after 1500+ days of unrelenting emotional and verbal violence rained upon us by the garden-variety abuser at the White House.

We need the answer to be yes because change - systemic change - that raises the water level so that all of our boats can rise - demands discomfort, uncertainty, fear of losing the security of our accustomed spot at the table, having to listen to voices we didn't hear before, of having to learn new rules, and of making mistakes while learning new rules.

It's a truism that most of us don't change until our backs are against the wall and the wall is on fire. 

Our wall is on fire. To go back to sleep is to miss our appointment with history to change the future. 

 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Reserving My Word for 2021: Joy

 

 

 

Benson Sculpture Garden, Colorado. May 2016.
Benson Sculpture Garden, Colorado. May 2016.

 

As I write this, the outcome of the 2020 election is unknown. 

Regardless of how it turns out, my 2021 word for the year will be joy

Although I have a good life (and feel lucky for it), and am generally happy, the past several years have been so full of turmoil domestically and abroad, and in my personal circles, it has brought my emotional reserves low. 

So 2021 (actually, I’ve already started) will be one in which I intentionally engage in the practices that I know (or that might) bring me joy. 

Another way of putting this is: I have made a decision to feel joyful, and it is incumbent upon me to take the actions necessary to execute on that decision. 

Listening to beautiful music while I prepare a meal is a simple example. 

Learning something new, like tennis, is another. 

Lighting my salted caramel candle and breathing in its aroma is another. 

As is deepening the relationships I have with people I care about. 

Sharing some of what I’ve got with others. 

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Stuff: Trials and Errors in Alabama

Before I left Tucson at the end of May 2020, I edited my stuff to the barest of bare minimums so I could car camp in ChezP while en route to wherever my new digs would be for the year. This approach contrasted with past years, in which my criterion for how much stuff I schlepped from one tourist-in-residence to the next was that it fit into my car. 

 

Car packed for move to El Paso. August 2016.
Car packed for move to El Paso. August 2016.

 

Below are minimizing actions I took before my Tucson exit:

  • Reduced flatware and tableware to four or fewer pieces in each category
  • Cookware released: Cooking pots and pans, plastic spatulas/spoons, silicone oven mitt, cutting board
  • Kept only one bath towel
  • Bedding released: Airbed and its accompanying electric pump, fitted sheets, all pillows except one, pretty comforter, a knitted throw
  • Travel items released: Two coffee thermoses, smallish Coleman water jug
  • Also released: Smallish fan

 

Now that I've been in Birmingham for awhile, I can assess my mistakes and wins.  My first assessment on same is here.


Mistakes

1. Keeping only one bath towel

One bath towel was fine right up until the day I went on my road trip in October. Wanted to take a shower the morning I left Birmingham for Texas, only to realize, oh, right, my sole bath towel will be damp, so instead of packing it up, I'd have to drape it over stuff in the car while I drove.

On the other hand .... On a road trip, I can lay bath towels atop my coolers to protect my cooler(s) from the heat and sun pushing through the windows or just to cover up items that opportunistic thieves might think appear interesting enough to break a window for. 

I should have kept two bath towels.

 

2.   Keeping only one pillow

In theory, my decision to insert blankets and linens into pillowcases and use these as pillows was a solid one. But they aren't comfortable and they're also kind of floppy. 

I should have kept two pillows. 

 

3.   Bed

I don't regret giving away my airbed and pump. It would have taken up too much ChezP real estate for this year's interregnum between Tucson and Birmingham. Just as importantly, I learned how much I valued a comfortable bed! My experiment with a stretched-fabric cot, topped by my ChezP's foam cushion, has been a comfort failure, and not one I want to suffer through for a year. I hereby reject the punitive adage: You made your bed and now you gotta lie in it.

 

Bed fail in Birmingham apartment. October 2020.
                                                        Bed fail in Birmingham. October 2020.

 

I ordered a new airbed and electric pump after I returned from my Texas road trip. Same brand for the third time: an Intex Twin with Raised Pillow. I like that it's almost the height of a real bed. 

I again sleep like a queen! 


3. Cookware

I grow weary of thrift-store cookware that doesn't sit evenly on stove burners, oven mitts that don't quite do the job, and no-scratch spatulas with dubious chemical integrity.

It is time to invest a little dough into decent kitchen tools I can use in a bricks-and-mortar or on the road. 

So the mistake in this case wasn't that I released my Tucson cookware and bought "new" in Birmingham; it's more a mistake in lost time and unreliable results from thrift store hunting and buying each time I move. It's the latter I intend to rectify. 


4.   Tableware

I made no mistake in reducing my number of dinner plates to two from four. My mistake was the size of the dinner plates I was using. They were too big. They were too big to fit into my decades-old, Girl Scout ditty bag to dry after I washed them. They were too big to fit easily into my camp kitchen box. 

 

Vintage Girl Scout ditty bag at campsite, Lake Livingston State Park, Texas. October 2020.
Vintage Girl Scout ditty bag at campsite, Lake Livingston State Park, Texas. October 2020.

 

Notwithstanding the pretty, pastel turquoise color and the pleasing curvature of their lip, I left them in Livingston.

I could do so because I'd already found their replacement:

When I landed in Birmingham, I undertook my annual search for a replacement broiler pan with which to roast my boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, my zucchinis, my squashes, my potatoes, and my yams. I found a taped-together assortment of metal ware that included not only the PERFECT size broiler pan (fits well into a kitchen sink for washing!), but two sets of toaster-oven pans, which I didn't think I needed (and I don't have a toaster oven).

But the petite, rectangular toaster-oven pans are cute as kittens, in their way, and I'm using them as my new plates. I can't use them in a microwave, but no matter. I don't have a microwave. (Hahaha! This reminds me of how, in Ferguson, I didn't have a stove!)


My wins

I should have dispensed with fitted sheets long ago! They are a pain in the ass to fold after laundering, they are a pain in the ass to put on an airbed, and they're too big for my ChezP "bed."

Although I had some sentimental attachment to the flatware, one of the two thermoses, and the Coleman jug that I released, the storage space they didn't consume in my car and kitchen cabinets dried my nostalgic tears. 

My decision to furnish my Tucson (and future) apartment with camp gear that I can also use for road trips and camping was a good one! My bedside table is a collapsible camp table. My bedside lamp is a camp lantern (powered by rechargeable batteries). My comfortable living room chair is a backpacking chair. My ottoman is the medium-large plastic bin that houses my camp kitchen, topped by a pillow. 

 

Apartment living room ensemble. Birmingham, Alabama. October 2020.
Living room ensemble. Birmingham, Alabama. October 2020.
                               


Related stuff on stuff

"Office" chair

Every year, I buy a new-to-me chair for my "office." Usually, I do find a chair that is the right height for my loyal folding table, and is comfortable. But not always. This year in Birmingham, I bought a very solid, pretty, wooden dining chair. But the seat is just a little too high for my folding table, which means that every day, I'm slightly uncomfortable when I work on my laptop. 

I'd like to find a sturdy, folding camp chair with the correct seat height, provides good support for my lower back while sitting for long periods, hold up to daily use, and which will not take up too much space in my car when I use it for camping and moving. 

 

My living room and office in Opelousas. Louisiana, March 2015.
                        My office 'desk' and chair in Opelousas. Louisiana, March 2015.

 

 

Cardboard boxes

I'm experimenting with the use of cardboard boxes for shelving and side tables. This practice holds promise for future living set-ups.

 

 


Monday, November 2, 2020

Flashback to 2011: Dmanisi, Caucasus Georgia: First Europeans

Oh, what a rich day this was back in 2011! Original post here.




Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dmanisi: First Europeans

Zezva and Mzia of Dmanisi. Credit: Multitur

I'm sure that when archaeologists uncovered the hominids in Dmanisi, now called the first Europeans, the Georgians said, "Old news. Of course, we were the first. Everybody knew that."

It was a sunny day, and Sandy, Eberle, and I joined Jennifer in Dmanisi (the town) to visit Dmanisi, the old settlement and home place of these first Europeans, Mzia and Zezva.

The marshrutka to Dmanisi leaves from Samgori each hour. Cost = 5 lari. Like poetry, each of us converged on Samgori, on time (pretty much), from our respective starting points: Rustavi, Gori, and a far-flung Tbilisi neighborhood.

Jennifer had arranged transportation to the archaeological sites for us, with the assistance of her host.

First we checked out the old settlement, circa 8th or 9th century at its founding. The settlement remained active through the 15th century, when it was overwhelmed by the Mongol, Tamerlane (who also decimated Rustavi). The artifacts thus reflect centuries of human activity and occupation.

The stone in this area boasts a tri-color scheme of green, red, and ivory. Beautiful. Ancient human detritus is all over the place in the form of petrified bones, stones, and pottery.

Dmanisi, Georgia


The scientific excavation is very much live.

Here is a beautiful video about the site, produced by Rolex, which honored a Georgian archaeologist with an award for his work. The accompanying article is here.



Some photos from the city below. Some buildings restored, some not. 

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

From the active dig site:


Dmanisi, Georgia

Dmanisi, Georgia

Evidence that Georgians invented bottled water, electricity, and freezers.  Dmanisi, Georgia.

No scale on this photo. Hole large enough for several people to climb into. Dmanisi, Georgia.

After visiting the ancient site on this sunny day, we returned to Jennifer's flat, had some munchies, then got on the last marshrutka to Tbilisi (5:00 p.m.). Jennifer decided to join us, where she'd crash at her favorite hostel for the night, Old Town Hostel.

Heard some decent music on the marshrutka on the way back to Tbilisi.



When we arrived in Tbilisi, we stopped at Old Town Hostel so Jennifer could drop her stuff, then Sandy realized she needed to get a move on if she wanted to catch the last ride to Gori, and Eberle, Jennifer, two hostel folks, and I went to dinner at "that place that overlooks the stage where we saw that dancing at that festival and where one of us got that thing with the runny egg that one time." Our usual place.

We saw some other TLGers there, and we chatted for a bit. After dinner, we went to a cafe (the other "place where we had the runny eggs that time, no not that one where we saw the dancing that one time, the other place " or, alternatively "that place where Sandy got that 7 lari pot of tea (or should we say that pot of hot water with the one tea bag), yeah, that one."

One of our party was a really interesting woman - Gabrielle - who is traveling in search of the perfect kebab. No, really. Her blog is KebabQuest [2020 update: Now defunct]. And, dammit, she has also been to Iran and deems it one of the best places on Earth to visit. (The Iranians told her, "We LOVE Americans! Don't pay any attention to our crazy president! He's crazy! We like Israelis, too. And ... well, OK, we're afraid of Pakistan, but we like everyone else!") I must go to Iran.

Glass bridge, Tbilisi

Tbilisi, Georgia


Had a great Americano and nice conversation with Eberle and Gabrielle while Jennifer and Rob hung out on the enclosed terrace.  I won't see Eberle again on this Georgian adventure - I leave for my winter vacation in just a few days and she leaves for Turkey, then Ghana next month, not to return to Georgia. I look forward to hearing about her new journeys.

I caught the 11:00 marshrutka back to Rustavi.