Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road Trip Assist

Headed down Highway 80 last week we checked Yelp to search for lunch in Colfax, CA.  Cafe Luna had everything reviewers said -  a warm greeting from friendly owners, a delicious special (a healthy cross between a tostada and a quesadilla) and very entertaining local patrons. The local gossip is about what the new owner might do with the old theater in town. 

We got into the Yelp habit on our road trip last fall. Our ride to Oklahoma was our first mobile technology assisted road trip. We never ate fast food because Yelp helped us find "Main Street" cafes. We used Wikipedia to learn about every small town we passed, discovering that a lot of them were railroad stops. As soon as I had bars on my phone I could find out what Boron is used for.  I call the internet "the end of speculation". I love knowing the population, the demographics and the answer to "what do these people do out here?" 

Our motel in Kingman, Arizona was surrounded by chain restaurants  but thanks to Yelp we found Sirens Cafe which led us to the old downtown. The cafe was loaded with cute personality - mermaids in the desert.

A huge Yelp standout was in Winslow, Arizona when a reviewer undersold La Posada, a gorgeous restored Harvey House hotel. I had great pozole and loved their secret garden. If we had done one bit of research before taking off on the trip I would have targeted La Posada. I am so happy we didn't miss it.

As we made our way east we sought out bits and pieces of Route 66. One hungry morning we held out for Tucumcari, New Mexico and discovered that Kix on 66 indeed has pancakes that are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

On the way back west in Custer, South Dakota we had an elegant lunch at the Sage Creek Grille.

After a couple of days of making tuna sandwiches at rest stops on the road we turned off early in the morning at Dillon, Montana at Sweetwater Coffee to get a latte and we packed a couple of their delicious sandwiches for lunch later.

One of our most remote treks was across Idaho through Craters of the Moon National Monument. At Pickles Place in Arco, Idaho we got a friendly greeting, a clean restroom, a group of senior locals who teased us, and that road trip classic, afternoon pie.

I think it is cool that what is new - the amazing technology on my phone, helps us find what is old. And good.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love, Loss and things that are left behind

Our Mom took care of our Dad for many years. He was slowly debilitated by MS and then also by a brain injury. So it was a long hard haul.  

After he died she married her neighbor who loved the symphony and best of all loved international travel.  In their seventies and early eighties they went to interesting places like Sulawesi, Papua New Guinea, and with us—to  India and Bhutan.

Our “bonus Dad” showed up one day several years later with this prayer flag from Bhutan. He had carefully used twist-ties to affix it to a long bamboo pole.  He was a neurosurgeon and could twist a twist-tie like no one else. He used them to affix Christmas tree lights to the branches so they we invisible. That was another great thing about him. He loved Christmas.

The bamboo pole and the Lungta-Wind Horse flags have been tucked in our garage for ten years. Like so many people we are streamlining our lives, especially our possessions. The hardest things to part with are thoughtful gifts from departed loved ones.

Luckily prayer flags are meant to be flown.  They should blow in the wind to “to spread goodwill and compassion into all pervading space”. On a hopefully auspicious sunny and windy morning I plunged the pole into the snow and mounded snow all around it. It is on our south side where I hope to leave it until sun, wind, snow, and rain fade it to gray.

1  Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Phantom Book Club

When I retired a year ago people gave me some nifty gifts. The Packard Foundation gave me binoculars to support my aspiration to become a birder. 

Linda Scott Furness and her colleagues at Next Step Partners gave me books, a bunch of them.  I’ve worked with Linda and her partner Heather Corcoran, but I’ve haven't met the other dozen or so on their team which is spread across San Francisco and New York.  I gather that Linda wandered around the office and asked everyone for their favorite book in the last year.  Such a neat idea.  I got diverted onto reading ten books on Burma and some e-books. And somehow I’ve been hoarding this unique gift pile of books a bit.  I grabbed one our way up to the cabin, and devoured it between snow fort building and cooking up a storm for our traditional New Year’s family visitors.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is historical fiction about Mormon apostate Ann Eliza Young blended with a contemporary mystery.  I love historical fiction.  The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh is how I broke into my Burma reading. The device intertweaving a current day polygamy story worked for me.  I’m grateful for the recommendation, the book, and the time to read it.