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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hugging the Gulf


I left my daughter’s house at 9. My GPS told me I’d arrive at 1:30 CST. This is determined if I drove straight through and at the speed limit. I take rests. I stop to make lunch and eat it calmly and stretch. I take bathroom breaks. I take scenic stop breaks. If a brewery is on the way and off the main course, I take it and skew everything for GPS. I am constantly advised to make a U-Turn or to take the next right, then right, then left. Sometimes I am told aggressively to get to the route. I arrived at 3:30. It was an interesting drive along 85 South to 65 South to 113 to 31 to Gulf Coast Hwy. Kia, Hyundai manufacturing, past a car fire, vastness followed by a small abandoned village, then a prosperous stretch of nationally branded restaurants, stores, and shops in a long line, not in a mall. I set camp and then went to get wood. I was all set and had dinner: snapper, mushroom/reunion/spinach sautéed, and succotash. I chose to stay home and to listen to the Super Bowl on the radio. I brought my Bose system with three additional CD’s. I made a place for it above the foot of the bed. I am suspended the system on two gold chains holding a birch platform. It is very elegant. I decided to bring it since I was going to be in sites with electricity for six weeks. I also brought the hot air popcorn maker and the toaster. I enjoyed the radio. It was the best Super Bowl experience I have had. I have watched all other Super Bowls on TV. Okay, yes the commercials are important, but I don’t miss it since I can see them even before the Super Bowl on the Internet. Music is to be heard so the radio is ideal. The show itself, the visual, not necessary, since I’ve seen their acts. Once the game was over, mid fourth quarter, I switched to the Big Broadcast and heard the last hour and half. I was happy for Manning and Denver. They took care of business. They stopped the best offense and the MVP. The mantra, “This is for Peyton” worked.
I woke to the sun coming through the window. I rose slowly, south slow. Making breakfast took the chill off and the activity got me going. I opened the door and left it open. The bird sounds were everywhere. Some birds were coming in to eat the seed I sprinkled around. As I ate inside the Scamp I watched the ground birds feast. I had to do some chores: Valentine cards, water, propane for stove, beach towel, sleeping shirt. I should have brought my cashmere-sleeping sweater and I forgot the beach towels. When I got home, I prepared for a bike ride. I wore the fluorescent orange windbreaker for warmth as well as safety. I took a 14-mile ride along the Gulf past the entrance to Pensacola Naval Air Base. After my shower I had lunch and drove to the Gulf Islands National Seashore to walk on the Gulf in this very strong wind. The sand was blowing hard, almost in a sand blasting force. Very Assateague, very familiar. When I got home, I read some more of Mrs. Dalloway. I am loving the read. The style; the length of sentences; the detailing a reference; the illusions to Keats and Shakespeare, the style are entertaining me. I love her feminism and wish more young women in this country would read more Woolf. Young girls aren’t giving respect to their own. That’s too bad. But that’s an antediluvian scenario. I grilled a salmon steak and asparagus and steamed some potatoes for dinner. The wind has picked up and it looks like an indoor night, book and beer. The temperature also dropped and my furnace kicked in a couple of times throughout the night. While eating my breakfast, I watched a young cardinal play with the mirror on the passenger side of my car. He would land on the door handle and stare at himself in the mirror and window. He would peck at his image. Was he being narcissistic or hostile? He has done this for half an hour this and yesterday morning. Is this a pattern? I shall see. It is fascinating. This morning he seems more obsessive and intent with his image. I can hear his beak pounding against the mirror, which alerts me to his presence when I’m looking at the spectacle. I hope he doesn’t hurt himself. It is another windy but very sunny day. Those NW winds are causing the cold and the wind. Oh yeah, lots of Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota license plates on the camper’s vehicles. They know these winds, especially those near the Lakes, especially Lake Superior. The winds died down and I was outside all night, cooking, eating, and had a fire. There was a clear sky and the stars were out and the moon set early. The young cardinal is back with his lady friend, both ground feeding between his antics.
The next day was cool and windy. No bike ride. I couldn’t get warm. Made it a health day and went down early, no fire.
When I went outside the next morning, finally, the day was glorious. I woke early and read, the heater had come on. I had breakfast and then went outside. Glorious. I prepared for a bike ride. Today I was going to go left out of the park and ride down Innerarity Point Rd to the end. It was five and change so I knew I’d need to go past the Park and return. I set out into the wind, but was protect by the houses until I got to an open stretch the wind was steady, but not like the last few days. I was nicely warmed up by the time I hit the ten-mile mark by the Park and I then kicked it up many notches and rode like a mad man for two miles. I returned into a gentle wind and had a very good ride, finally. After my shower I prepared for the beach by packing lunch, beer, book, and other necessities. I arrived at the Gulf Islands National Seashore at 11:30 and go set up by noon. I set the SportBrella to shield the wind. I was set for the day. I left at 4. I got color and I got what I came for a day on this great beach. I prepared dinner of rockfish, carrots and peas, baked beans from last night, and zucchini. After dinner I had a grand fire and ended the beautiful day wonderfully. The wind kicked up again, but the day was warm as I woke early. I took an early morning bike ride after breakfast and then came back to finish Mrs. Dalloway, while sitting in the sun and protected from the wind by the shrubbery around my campsite, 68. When finished, I made lunch Grabbed To The Lighthouse and headed to the beach. Again windy, I used the umbrella and spent the afternoon reading and napping on the beach. It was as bright night the moon was finally making an impact as it lit the site. It is first quarter now. I had a great dinner and then made a blazing fire, being sure to leave enough wood for tomorrow night’s fire. I woke to a cool brisk day and the heater went on. Brrrr. It is colder up north. I heard it was going to be 24 degrees below zero in NYC. That was the wind chill prediction. COLD!!! I stayed in bed after breakfast reading and then finally got up to take a bike ride. It wasn’t as bad as earlier in the week. After the ride and a shower, I made an omelet and then crawled under the covers to read as the sun came in through the windows to warm the cabin and me.  I went to the beach for the afternoon. No wind and it was beautiful I stayed there for a few hours reading and napping. I had a good meal and listened to Prairie Home and then Jazz from WAMU online and had a wonderful fire. Early to bed and early to rise. I went shopping, washed the car, broke camp, took a shower, collected pinecones, and headed for the laundromat, where I watched the Spurs beat Man City and stay in second place, before moving on to a couple of breweries, Pensacola Brewing and Props, on my way to St Andrews SP. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is a classic I decided to bring with me as I played Snowbird this year. I haven’t read this novel since college. I did read Joyce’s Ulysses when I made a t trip to Dublin to see if I could follow Bloom’s route about Dublin. That Joyce and Woolf shared time as part of the Bloomsbury group allows for Woolf to employ the day in the life structure for her novel. I couldn’t be immune to the blatant allusions and irony of Woolf’s treatment to suicide in the novel with thoughts and ruminations on the topic in addition to an actual suicide in the novel.  And then how it is brought to the party and how Mrs. Dalloway ruminates over the actual facts of the suicide and relives parts of it, imagining herself in the same predicament.
Perhaps the most important symbol has to be Big Ben and Time. Time, on of the major themes of Shakespeare, who has a major role in this novel as does Keats with allusions to Truth and Beauty. We are always made aware of the time of the day.
“Remember my party to-night” A constant refrain from Clarissa as various people abandon her, always in a rush. It is after all the reason for the actions of the day, the denouement: the party. One is always awash of character development with Woolf and the use of “one.” My big question is who is Elizabeth’s father? Obviously Peter Walsh. He is Anglo-Indian. “One might weep if no one saw. It had been his undoing -- this susceptibility – in Anglo-Indian society; not weeping at the right time, or laughing either. “ She has a dark complexion and features not indigenous to Richard or Clarissa Dalloway. “She (Elizabeth) stood perfectly still. Was it that some Mongol had been wrecked on the coast of Norfolk (as Mrs. Hilbery said), had mixed with the Dalloway ladies, perhaps, a hundred years ago? For the Dalloways, in general, were fair-haired; blue-eyed; Elizabeth on the contrary, was dark; had Chinese eyes in a pale face; an Oriental mystery.” So many hints and clues: “Here is my Elizabeth,” said Clarissa, emotionally, histrionically, perhaps.”  Instead of our Elizabeth, which is what she wanted to say, not even just “Here’s Elizabeth.” The “my” was added last minute instead of “our.” I don’t think He suspects she is his daughter but I do think Clarissa knows. “But it would not have been a success, their (Peter and Clarissa) marriage. The other thing, after all, came so much more naturally. “ That other thing, the sex, a thing never spoken of.  
It gets very interesting when Sally Seton shows up at the party, uninvited, but welcome. She and Peter sit and reminisce about the past and much is learned about intimacies, being in love twice, and so many hints at so much. Watching Elizabeth with Richard becomes more than what it may or may not be. The vagueness, the properness of it, the intrigue, makes the notion all that more plausible.
It has been fun rereading this fine novel as I look forward to moving on to To The Lighthouse.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Wintering in Florida, Getting there


Today is Groundhog Day, 2016. Phil and Chuck both saw their shadows. Yesterday was grand. The day was glorious, t-shirt weather. Then to Burley to hear Brian Russo and sit with and chat with Paul. When I got home, I undertook final touches and cleaning and then went to bed. I rose early. I made breakfast, watched LSSC, closed out bathroom, then desk, and finally kitchen as I mopped my way out. Out at 830 AM. Instead of taking the direct route down 113, I went west on 50 to Grander Mountain for a new headlamp and shower. No shower, but I got a nifty headlamp. I continue heading south on 13 to Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I stop at Stingray’s and get a fried oyster sandwich with cole slaw.  I love this route across the Bay to Norfolk and down 58 via a convoluted path of highways that is not intuitive. Google Maps gets me through. I stop on the NC side of the NC-VA border to get a NC map. I’m 18 Miles from my campsite at Kerr Lake SRA. I find a wonderful site by the lake and am the only camper here.  I grab my gloves and head out to scavenge wood from the surrounding fire pits. I’m lucky since a trove is at my site and I’m able to collect enough for a fire all night long. The state has taken down some trees and left wood for us. After collecting the leftovers from the surrounding pits, I go to collect a worthy log. It is at least two feet in diameter and a proper sixteen-inch width. I roll this treasure home.
Since it was only a five hour ride, it is still light out. This is important. I can walk about the grounds, survey all and collect wood. The freezer is stocked with so much fish, steak, chicken, and vegetables; I have to think about what I will eat over the next three days and in which order so I can keep that food out. I select, a salmon steak, chicken thighs, and a buffalo tenderloin to be eaten in this order: dinner, dinner, breakfast. The sun is setting and it is time to start dinner. I start the succotash, prepare the last of the asparagus in an oil and herb marinade, and finally prepare the salmon steak. First I bathe it in lemon juice followed by a special spice concoction I have devised. It knocks my socks off!! After dinner I start the fire.
I start with a ball of newspaper, add a half dozen pine cones, and four sticks of wood in a crisscross fashion and heap the foundation with the scraps of the other fires by using a blowtorch to ignite the paper which ignites the cones and the previously scorched wood to create a glorious bonfire.
I love this camper. I took a quick shower. I couldn’t sleep with my dirty self. I love this camper. All of the wood is in the pit and burning very hotly. I get up from the log I’ve been using as a chair and roll it over to the fire and hoist it up onto the fire and leverage it with unburnt wood and sit back and watch it burn all night long so slowly. I love how this is just a one nightstand.
After a night of stars and a clear sky, the morning brought a cloud cover and foreboding. I was going west and into some horrendous thunderstorms coming east. They had done lots of damage in Alabama and Mississippi and NC was next in the path. As I cruised down 85 towards Asheville I could feel the wind and see the ominous clouds in the distance. The full force of the storm and I met just after Winston-Salem and was over by the time I got to Hickory. At one point I stopped under a bridge and waited it out. Cars were going off the road and I saw more accidents because of hydroplaning. Even on an occasion, my hazard warning went on, so I decided to pull over for a spell. The radio program I was listening to was interrupted twice to provide warnings and updates from the weather service. The drive from Hickory to Black Mountain was delightful and in the sun. My first stop was Lookout Brewery. I spoke to the owner a bit and showed him and his bartender the Scamp. I picked up a lovely stout, IPA, and a Pale Ale. My next stop, just down the road was Pisgah Brewing Co. They were closed because the place was flooded and needed to me mopped up and cleaned up. I was able to grab a six-pack of Greybeard IPA. I returned to 40 and proceeded to my camp in the Pisgah National Forest, about a half hour from downtown Asheville. I set camp, the only one here, and started dinner so I could have a good evening in town visiting some breweries. The drive into town was magnificent. The sky was a pastel red and blue, almost like those seen on Mallory Wharf in Key West. I found a great parking spot near Hi-Wire. My first stop was Burial where I grabbed a four pack of Scythe Rye Ale and tasted a Porter. Next I went around the corner to Green Man and sampled four stouts. I took a six-pack of their Forester Stout. I dropped my beers off at the car and went to Asheville Brewery for a pizza and some more samples of great stouts. I took the Baba with me, a nice winter warmer kind of stout with jalapeno. I closed out with a smoky stout at Hi-Wire. The drive back was smooth and I made a fire and drank a stout by the fire and closed out the evening in style. The rushing water of the river, which was swollen and roaring fast because of the recent rains, provided great background music. The road in was clear now. It had been flooded earlier and was now covered in red mud, which got the Scamp very dirty.
I woke before dawn and started reading Mrs. Dalloway.  The last time I read this book or any of Virginia Woolf’s books was in college. So for this trip I brought along Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, and The Waves for my reading pleasure and to reacquaint myself with this magnificent writer. I fell back to sleep after a while and woke at 8:30 as the sun came up over the mountains to my east and to the melodic and steady pulse of the swollen river still careening down its rocky path. I spent the morning exploring the area on my mountain bike. This is another gorgeous environment known as the Pisgah National Forest on the border with the Smokies. The National government did us proud with all these parks and saved lands. Of course we need regulation otherwise we have seen what corporations, people do to the land. Drive along any country road surrounding a pristine park and you find garbage, old cares, trash, and the waste of man surrounding those little hovels they call homes. The day was colder, considerably colder than yesterday. I got home, took a shower, had lunch and grabbed the book and settled in for a good read. Instead I had a little nap and woke refreshed for my jaunt into Asheville. I started at Wedge and had a lovely Alewife IPA and took an IPA of cans home. I’m such a beer whore, I always seem to take something home. I moved on to find a parking spot and then to visit a few more establishments of the purveyors of malted, hopped, and other beverages of beer. I followed a path that took me to Burial and Green Man again for they do have some great choices. Met fascinating people in both. Watched some soccer in Green Man, which is why I go there, I suspect, they always have soccer on. I went around the corner to Catawba and enjoyed their reds and stouts while writing postcards. I then dropped in at Twin Leaf and then Funkatorium, Wicked Weed’s other face. With my bounty I headed up to Jack of the Woods, a music house sponsored by Green Man. Inside was a chair at the bar facing the band of four lads: a banjo, mandolin, guitar, and big bass. They were four lads from four different bands, The Weary Travelers, who happen to play first Thursday of each month here. Reminded me of New Orleans and how the musicians there, too, are in many bands. They played two sets while I enjoyed their standard made by Green Man and had a wonderful Shepard’s Pie. Once again surrounded by good people and good conversation. They closed up at 9:30 and the drive home was delightful as the shy was clear, as were the roads. Got home, turned on the heater and set a fire. I had collected lots of wood from surrounding sites as they had been abandoned when the rains came. I had my cones and some good dry wood in the car so I had a rip roaring blaze listening to CCR and my Scottish music from the Red Hot Chili Pipers and enjoyed my selections of stouts. I had left the curtains open to watch the waning fire flicker away as I drifted into a sound sleep. The sun woke me at 6:30 and I closed the curtains and went back to sleep. I finally rolled out of bed at 8 and prepared a solid breakfast of steak, mushrooms/red onion/spinach sautéed and two fried eggs with tea and a large water. I will be heading to my daughter’s house in Marietta today via the breweries along 74 and the Smokies. I stopped at Boojum and collected a fun Porter and headed to Innovation. They didn’t have any smoked or rye beers so I took a sour for the beach. Back on the road I wound my way through Nantahalia National Forest along the rafting river on Rt 19. I stopped at a pullover along the river for lunch. I heated a can of pea soup and made a PBJ sandwich and washed it down with a YooHoo.  I connected with 575 and then 75 and went against al of the traffic and arrived at my daughter’s house at 5 without incident, easy peasy. Parked the Scamp and cleaned up stuff when my daughter arrived. She is seven months pregnant and looks beautiful. After her husband arrived home we sat and chatted and then prepared for dinner at Cooks and Soldiers, a second restaurant by Iberian Pig folks. The dinner was fabulous, everything ordered, tapas, was melt in your mouth delicious. I felt the baby boy move while at dinner, very exciting.  Early to bed for all of us. We woke early since they had to get to baby classes and I had some English soccer to watch. I helped the kids put together baby furniture and just enjoyed their joy and dreams and anticipations. Such a glorious and magical time.  We went to a very good Korean BBQ and then came home for a final evening. I left early Sunday morning for The Big Lagoon SP in FL.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick


The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick is another story about the 1980’s and about all of the excesses of Wall Street like Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short. As the title implies it is about the fall, the hubris, the vanity, the not paying attention, the curse within. In this tale we watch the rise and fall and variations on life of four young men. The usual material associated with Wall Street and its tenants abounds like large tips, expensive clothes, and outrageous doings. The background of the story is fun as we are back at Studio and Xenon, but no Roxy. A large section of the story involves AIDS, which is done well and is a gentle reminder of the mistakes our government led by Reagan, made in not acting fast or hard enough. Even a bit of discussion of 9/11 occurs as we learn about the fate of some of the characters. In all of these kinds of stories we have some interesting twists as again we come full circle in so many parts of the story.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scrapper by Matt Bell

Scrapper by Matt Bell is about a dead city, Detroit, and the exploits of Kelly, who goes from empty house to empty house salvaging what he can for money from the metal collectors. It is about the ghosts, the ghosts of those who lived there as seen in their writings on walls, notes left, tributes to the house and it meant to each scribe. It is a glimpse into the beginning of what could be considered a future for America. It is hauntingly beautiful as I sit ion my safe environment and scary as hell, because it could happen to us.