cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “travel”

E-clipsed


I did not experience the solar eclipse, but I am content with the strange sorta kinda dimness that I thought I was the eclipse. We do not live in the pathway and we hadn’t considered making the seven hour drive to witness the two minutes. 

I did experience some type of eclipse in college during the eighties, can’t remember what type. I do remember a group of us signed up for an adventure excursion trip. We jumped into a van and drovehalf a day with no real plan. At the eclipse approached someone in the van  yelled, “Pull over here!” We stopped at the top of a hill overlooking a vineyard. Slowly it grew dusk, cars on the ribbon of highway below began turning on headlights, but none stopped driving. A dim shadow quavered through the vineyard momentarily transforming it into an Ansel Adams time lapse print of grey landscape tones. Quite surreal. 

Didn’t make it here this time. Or last time, for that matter. Our vinny was more modest. I bet happy hour was something though.

This time around, I missed out due to being preoccupied with my mending broken wrist. I did virtually share the wonder of the event through NASA.gov with millions of other non-pathers and was genuinely happy for the crowds. Maybe next time I’ll plan it better. For now I’ll be humming Donovan:

The Perfect Eclipse Tune
How was solar eclipse experience?

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Aloha Ahas


Hawaii. The esteemed destination vacation. Until recently there has always been something to prevent going: budget, weather, budget (that did deter us a couple of times), timing. YET–the hubs turned 70, the 35th anniversary arrived, and I turned 60. No excuses allowed with this triple celebration.

After some research we went with a very reasonable Costco package (seriously, check out their travel options. They offer more than a good deal on Baby Bells.)

Since we were limited to date blocks we grabbed the June package, which meant I barely submitted my grades before we hopped aboard the six-hour flight to the Garden Island: Kauai. The best part? We flew out on my birthday. Cool, huh?

Here are some revelations:

  • Previously a Southwest devotee, I might be switching over to Alaska. Free charging stations, reasonably priced food menu, free Mai Tais (the leis weren’t available?) , $10 movie tablets (which was an unexpected birthday perk) efficient crew. Very nice.
  • Kauai is truly the garden island. Lush verdant plants with flowers so brightly hued they practically glow. Everywhere there are bizarrely beautiful plants that seem primordial. Giant fragrant blossoms. The air is tinged with briny sweetness–ocean and blossoms.

   

   

  • Being 20 steps from the ocean is pinch worthy. I would wake up, open the sliding door and in a moment I was on the beach. This is not your pretty calendar white sand beach, this is an almost frantic roller wave beach that has buckskin-colored sand full of riptide branches. It’s not a posted swimming beach due to the coral reef and undertow. This meant it was fairly desolate. Quite peaceful, almost like having a private beach. The locals were the main visitors. They would come down in the morning to fish. We watched a twenty-something dude spear dive and bring up an octopus. I liked how our resort’s frontage was not a swimming beach but one the locals come and enjoy. This made the dxperience even better.
  • Humidity is a way of life. Hair does odd things in this weather. A person is either sticky from the misty rain or the moist, clingy heat. Any clothing that is 100% cotton remains 100% damp. I should have gone with the polyester shirts.
  • In June there are peekaboo sunny days mixed with muggy grey skies. But you know what? It’s Hawaii. I will take grey skies in Hawaii any day–even grey days are amazing.
  • Casual. Shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits are the mainstay of dress. I felt overdressed with the one dress I brought. Forget capris–too hot. Shorts. Next time more shorts and tank tops. But not cotton.
  • Time is irrelevant. We gained three hours flying to the island and they were a bonus. Everyone lives in a relaxed attitude, even the K-Mart clerk. No hurry. No worry. Island time.
  • I always check out libraries wherever I vacation, and Princeville’s was jaw-dropping gorgeous with its amenities of open layout, pristine equipment. I grabbed a mystery off of the free rack. Gotta have a beach read when at the beach.
  • While the island itself is mesmerizing in beauty, the architecture is bland. Most buildings are block-shaped and are tan . No noted embellishments of design. Some houses sit on 12 foot high (or higher) stilts of concrete block (flooding?). 
  • There are so many places to see and so many things to do. Those days of hanging out by the pool working on the tan as I orignally planned got ditched once we saw how much there was to see. I sat out one day and I felt silly.
  •  Yet the one day I sat out I scorched. Not evenly, mind you. In blotches–because I sat under the shade tree. Whereever the sun peeked through I scorched. Yes, I was wearing sun block.
  • No one has perfect bodies. There were a couple of people under thirty who qualified, but most people at the resort were over forty and were far from svelte. This encouraged me to ditch the tankini and drag out the bikini. I scorched. There is a lesson in this.

 

Discoveries not in the guide book:

  1. There are feral chickens all over the place. Apparently the 1992 hurricane released chicken coops and their contents. The island has not been the same since. There are flocks of these wiry little cluckers all over the hotel compound. They have no shame. They will flap right up on the table if not watched with diligence. They wander into the open air restaurant. The sparrows are even cheekier. A trio of them perched on the opposite chair and didn’t flinch even with hand shooing and water flicking. Sheesh. Chickens are, in fact, all over the island. We traveled up to the top of the mountain for the canyon view (fabulous!) and chickens were wandering in the parking lot. Did they hitchhike a ride up?!?
  2. The snails are fantastic. Not to eat, mind you. Although these guys might serve up well as escargot they are so huge! Their shells are colorful spirals, the type a beachcomber yipes up and down in delighted discovery. As a gardener I abhor snails, yet I’ve grown fond of these guys. Every morning there is a commute of about a dozen roaming all over the hedge and ground outside on our miniscule patio. There is a huge cache of empty shells under the hedge to the point it looks like a used parking lot.
  3. One of my favorite beaches was actually an industrisl dump way back when. Located in Port Allen, Glass Beach is the site where empty bottles were dumped. Over time the ocean wore down the glass into bits and pieces. The beach is now a mix of glass pebbles and black volcanic sand.   

   

  While there are many islands to visit, it would be difficult to explore beyond Kauai. We are already saving to go back.

Cricket’s Hamlet Adventure: Day Five–it’s reigning wonder and frightening


Aah–midpoint. Two more days to go and I graduate from Hamlet school. I just gotta polish up my project and present it and practice our group scene and perform it. The wonder (at least part of it) and the frightening is due to the film crew returning on Friday to film our presentations and performances. Forsooth!  

I believe this is the Supreme Court building which is in the neighborhood of the Folger Library

 One of the lesson cappers we use is “I observed…” For example:

  • I observed there are some shoes that definitely cannot be worn in the rain
  • And I observed when necessity calls for walking barefoot in the rain it’s lovely that DC neighborhood sidewalks are primarily brick

I finally managed to get into the LoC reading room.My Intention was to locate my Marvin Composes a Tea Highlights anthology and snap a photo of it; however, NO photographs are allowed in the RR. I was content looking at my LoC call number on the screen with the LoC RR in the background.

The LoC bookstore actually had more people in it than the RR. I could have spent HOURS deciding whst to buy. Alas, I had to hurry and get back to Folgering since I snuck away on my lunch break. I snagged a few buttons, yet wished for more time and a larger suitcase. Really, really cool stuff beckoned from the shelves. Okay-I’ve just talked myself into going back. Good thing I have leftovers from dinner because I will be skipping lunch again.

All my adventuring after hours has caught up to me and I am determined to go to bed before midnight tonight. I even slept in until 8 am today! *gasp*

“Perchance to sleep, to dream–ay there’s the rub.”            

Cricket’s Hamlet Adventure: Day Four–LOC, Death by Folger, and Abe


Waking up at 3 a.m. either means I am not adjusting well to the time difference or I am so excited about another day of Shakespeare I can’t wait to get going. It’s probably both. Today was especially exceptional. 

I did manage to go back to sleep after working on my lesson plan that is due on Friday, but I still woke up early. The problem is museums and such don’t open until 10 a.m. and Folgerizing begins at 9 a.m. I did manage to get 15 minutes of looky-looking at the Library of Congress. Here–ooh with me: 

outside entrance

  

ceiling

  

stairs leading up to gallery overlooking reading room

 
Amazing, eh? I applied for my reading card on-line and needed to pick it up. Unfortunately, that was at the Madison building across the street and I was now out of time. Nicholas Cage made it look way too easy popping into the LOC to check out

books during his National Treasure stint. I’m determined to spend more time there. I guess I’m foregoing lunch tomorrow at the corner bistro.

Other highlights of the day:

  • Handling rare books and diving into further Shakespeare research.
  • Practicing for our upcoming group scene–I dibbsed Horatio for Act Five, Scene Five. I have always appreciated Horatio’s quiet dedication to Hamlet.
  • Learning how to sword fight from a Shakespearan actor, and we were all filmed for an upcoming documentary highlighting the Folger Academy.
  • We then received lines and “died” on the Folger Library lawn.
  • I couldn’t end the day so easily, so I roused myself and trotted off to the Lincoln Memorial. I would probably still be walking if I hadn’t come across a DC bike rack. I rented the bike for the very reasonable amount of $8.00 for 24 hours and trekked down the path. At 9:30 at night it was teeming with tours, families, and people of all ages and walks of life. I can’t imagine what it must be like during the day. 

The Lincoln Memorial was a prime directive on my touristy checklist. When I finally got up the steps I got the wobbly little smile and that welling of tears that comes with being reunited with a dear friend. Abraham Lincoln’s memorial is beyond description. His presence is both comforting and mesmerizing. I wanted to hang out for awhile to absorb and reflect but energy, darkness, finding my way home all pressed upon me. Here are the pics: 

    
 
I did arrive back to the hotel safely, although a bit drenched with the effects of humidity. When it’s 84 degrees at 10 pm, you can imagine day temps are a bit overwhelming.

So this Hamlet quote is devoted to the DC Bike folk:

“For this relief much thanks.”

Cricket’s Great Hamlet Adventure:Day One


The day was certainly full:

  • Up at 3 am to catch a 6 am
  • Fly over at least 3 time zones
  • Learn quickly how to ride the MARC from Baltimore to DC
  • Figure out my hotel from Union Station
  • Where to eat dinner? Back to Union Station because the pub next dinner is not on my budget
  • Move with the masses to the Mall for fireworks–crowds are not my fave, but Fourth of July at the nation’s capitol? I got over myself and blended, absorbed, dodged, and weaved.
  • I claimed a spot and waited.
  • There were so many cultures represented I felt I was at an outdoor Ikea festival (okay, my odd personal reference since whenever I go to an Ikea it’s like a UN day, either that or my smalltown bubbling is showing)
  • The big moment:  

NOTE: our smalltown event lasts about 10 minutes consisting of very dramatically spaced singular shots. I was indeed properly dazzled by this pyrotechnic dazzlement. 

  • And then my approximate 19 minutes back to the hotel turn into an hour long “lost, yet flowing with the masses walking tour of DC at 10 o’clock at night”–it would have been scary except for there being two cops for every second block. Locals were very friendly and helpful in redirecting me. At one point after asking directions once again (I forgot to turn on my precise location indicator on my Google Maps–now corrected) a nice young woman caught up to me on the sidewalk and sincerely cautioned me about steering clear of the sketchy 8th street area. And I thought DC would be harsh and sense my smalltown girl and chomp me up. Everyone, especially the police, have been very nice.

DAY TWO: squeezing in Dorothy’s shoes before dinner

    All My Bag(s) Are Packed…


    I am ready to go. If you recall I earlier announced I am headed to Washington DC as one of the selected thirty teachers who will be part of the first ever Folger Shakespeare Summer Workshop. Though I won a spot, I still pay for the privilege. That was a different post.

    This post brings more details. For one: packing.

    I am in a firm believer in stow and go. I stuff what I need in my trusty Wally World roller, find an overhead bin and stuff it in. This trip is different. The MEPA, my most excellent personal assistant, will not be traveling with me. Flying six hours with a knee newly escaped from his brace is not on his list of really want to do that. Besides, he grew up on the east coast and has done Washington DC. I’ve not, and I am admittedly nervous. To save money I’m flying into Baltimore and will take the shuttle. I don’t want to look too much like tourist so I opted not to have a wheeled suitcase thumping behind me on the sidewalk. I shall be a bag lady instead. One of the sons left behind a nifty black sports bag and behold, all my stuff rolls up nicely inside. So packing is pretty much a done deal. Squeezing my needed lotions etc in the TSA quart bag proved more challenging (mousse or toothpaste–if the hair looks good do people notice teeth?)

    Because I have such an early flight (six-oh-my am) and the airport is about a two hour drive, plus having to arrive for early check in, I splurged and we are booked in at a Red Lion near the airport. I buy the room, the MEPA can spring for dinner. It might equal out because we favor this nice little spot that overlooks the river.

    My final travel prep entails my tourist itinerary. Having recently received my schedule I discover we are Hamletting from early morn to late at night. I have one day of DCing: Monday July 5 from 8 am to 3pm. Having scouted internet sources and weighing in opinions I’ve come up with this list of possibilities:

    • The Mall–apparently all the major landmarks harken in this area
    • The Library of Congress–I’ve already applied for my reader’s card
    • The Smithsonian–only if I’m very, very particular, as an entire week could be spent in just one wing. I’m thinking I would like to gaze upon Dorothy’s ruby red Oz slippers or Mr Roger’s cardigan. 

    What else, dear readers,  should I go for in such limited time? The Capitol is practically right outside the hotel, the website states. So much to do, so little time….

    Of Hamlet, Conundrums, Cost Factors–oh my


    I have decided that now and then it’s important to dip into the retirement fund to fully appreciate opportunities I may not be up for when I do finally retire. When the opportunity came up to apply for the first ever Folger Shakespeare Library Summer Workshop, I swiftly wrote up my reasons why I should be among the coveted twenty-five teachers who will get to study Hamlet. I don’t know if Midsummer Nights Dream or even King Lear would have caused me to leap without much looking. I don’t even recall what I wrote, I was in such an unmitigated hurry to apply.

    Whatever I wrote worked for them.  Come July I’m heading out to Washington DC to learn how to teach Hamlet to my students. Even though it’s costing me about a month’s salary (tuition, airfare, hotel–ooh, I have to eat, forgot about that) my hubs and family and friends convinced me to commit by saying: “Just go already.” They’re right. I would be full of regrets at having turned down the opportunity just because I like to save money instead of spend it. ‘Tis better to be filled with memories than regrets. Shakespeare didn’t write that, but I’m sure he thought along those lines when he trekked off to London for the theater.

    I will keep you all informed as I get closer to the event.  I think I’m getting excited–reality emails are arriving about getting prepared for the big trip. 

    1. I must supply a recommendation letter in order to secure my Reading Room pass. My local library card will not be sufficient. This puts studying Shakespeare into a totally different realization of *special event*.

    One thing I’ve noticed as July gets closer and my departure date, I’m more enthused about seeing Washington DC in movies we watch–“Hey, don’t blow up the White House! It’s on my tourista list.” Or a poke to the hubs “I’m gonna get a photo with Abe. I’ll give my regards.” The MEPA is an excellent fellow allowing me to gloat like this.

    I’ve only dipped my toe back East briefly when I attended a Chautauqua workshop back in 2008. Is the east coast still muggy in summer? My part of the planet sports dry  and hot summer fun. Humidifiers and air conditioners are standard issue. 

    As for tripworthy goals and accomplishments: I’m hoping Jude Law will stop by. Makes sense doesn’t it? He just did Hamlet on Broadway. I would settle for Patrick Stewart peeking in. David Tennant? I’m also hoping to dig in and get some amazing research done on a Shakespeare project I’ve been toying with the past five years. That Reading Pass will definitely come in handy. Of course, I really hope to bring back such astounding Hamlet lesson plans that they will transform my seniors into iambic spouting Bardinators.

    We interrupt this post with an important update:
    “participants should pack loose, comfortable clothing for stage work, including a workshop on swordplay.” SWORDS! 

    Being a West Coaster, I am so open to suggestions of what I should REALLY see when finding time to be a tourist in Washington DC.

    a bit about cricketmuse

    I intend to pack a bit more…

    Home Again, Toto


     

    Thomas Wolfe is credited with saying you can’t go home again. Of course there are multiple layers of meaning in that statement. I noticed at least one aspect of meaning, the one where home becomes more of a memory as time goes on, after a recent visit to see family.  I’ve learned that it isn’t always a good idea to revisit former places of our childhood and jotted down my reflections as I walked through old neighborhoods.
    A garbage sack mocks the spot where Mom’s potted azalea graced the front step. A gated barrier replaces the hand-carved mahogany doors. Weeds gather in loud conversations supplanting Dad’s meticulous landscape.

    The donut shop remains the same odd little shaked chalet busied by Toyotas and BMWs alike. It’s a strange little anachronism among the neon corporate stores surrounding it. As I pass by it a memory flickers on. I remember back to high school. My stern take-no-prisoners-driver’s ed teacher revealed a soft spot one day by instructing me to pull into the donut shop parking lot. She disappears inside and returns with sack of donut holes. No one at school would have believed us. A secret only to be dredged up someday at a reunion possibly.

    The town: a grace of upscale suburbia, an old community, struggling to maintain its dignity as its unique shoppes and colonial clapboard frontage succumb to being slowly replaced by box stores and parking lots. The stylish luxury apartments converted into condominiums are showing their wear, much like wrinkles found in a linen skirt mark the evidence of use.

    Childhood memories remain, yet become increasingly marred by these yearly trips home. Perhaps it’s true that you can’t really go home again because home is now relegated to the past, then again sometimes home presents itself in a sound bite: the speed boat chop on the lake reminds me of teen summer fun; the smudgy glance into favored memory flashes by as I drivepast an icon building, the steepled church where youth group met ever so long ago. Upscale Neighborhoods slip into weedy shabbiness, stretching sections from nice to nervous when walking through.

    A hodge-podge of cultures, a grab bag of mixed socio-economic populace is startling while browsing for dinner ingredients at the local Safeway, and becomes a reminder that going home is a state of flux.

    I concur with Dorothy–Kansas, metaphorically speaking, is not the same because it’s changed  and so have I.

    Dorothy5 Dorothy, I know how you feel–there’s no place like home. Then again, home is sometimes just a memory or that special place in our heart. (photo: wizardofozpictures.com)

     

    Of Entry Deadlines Whooshing By


    Scrolling through my iPhone notes, I came across a bit of writing that I had good intentions of entering into a writing contest. Oops. That Vonnegut deadline whoosh went by me, but I like the piece so much I couldn’t resist sharing it. The contest required the telling of a story in dialogue only, without any tags. Challenge accepted, just not actualized. Here goes:
    “Do you need some help?”
    “Seems I’ve twisted my ankle.I’ll be all right. My friends are returning with the car.”
    “I’m going in that direction. I’ll take you to when you’re staying.”
    “That’s all right. They should be along shortly.”
    “Those clouds indicate a change in the weather.”
    “Yes, I think you’re right. Are you sure it’s no trouble?”
    “None at all.”
    “Thank you for your help.”
    “You’re welcome. You’re American?”
    “Yes, I’m visiting with friends. We’re on a hiking tour.”
    “Yes, I’ve often hiked this area. You must have stepped in a rabbit hole.”
    “Probably so. This is a bit awkward. I don’t quite know what to say.”
    “Ah, we are addressing the elephant after all, then.”
    “Oh, right. Yes, well…”
    “I’m on holiday. There is no obligation.”
    “Courtesy and good manners at least.
    “And they say Americans are rude.”
    “Not always.”
    “How is the ankle?”
    “Truthfully, I’ve forgotten about it. It doesn’t look like a bad sprain. I’ll recover.”
    “Ice and elevation. I’m no physician, but I’ve dealt with a few twisted ankles. The men folk do their fair share of traipsing these hills on their hunts. Do you hunt?”
    “Only with my camera.
    “Much preferable, though I still appreciate the hunt. Tradition. It’s difficult to get away from tradition.”
    “That’s my group. Up ahead, yes, over there by those trees. Looks like they’ve stopped for lunch.”
    “Are you up to walking? I can set you closer to your camp.”
    “Yes, well. The ankle is still a bit tender.”
    “Then it’s best I drive you to your camp.”
    “Only if it wouldn’t be an inconvenience. Thank you. That would be appreciated.”
    “Is that it, by those cars?”
    “Yes. Well, thank you once again.”
    “Enjoy your stay and I hope you have a full recovery.”
    “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

     

     

     

    Road Trip Reflections


    It’s been about a week since I’ve been back from my Road Trip. Along the way I jotted notes and here’s what I came up with:


    Reader Board: “without ice cream all would be darkness and chaos”

    Rest stop bathroom poster: “no one should force you to work”–immigrant worker rights poster

    Parking lot: one legged-seagull and a choir of grackles.

    Dairy Queen: girl to grandpa–“how do they get the swirl on top of cone?”

    Wireless Connect Option:
    Drunkengiantgrogshop; dishonestdon–what neighborhood have I stopped in?

    Window Shopping: seen on bib–“these fools have turned my super cape backwards.”

    Coffee Shoppe: eclectic chairs and tables, tall ceilings, bookcase of children’s books, windowed playroom with dress up clothes, chalkboard walls, train set, kitchenette hutch. A brood of children frolicking while moms and dads read, deviced, paperworked. Lovely chocolate chip cookies too.


    At the park: full out barbeques and families on a Saturday night

    Dessert

    Any guesses what this deliciousness might be? Oooh, yummers. Dark chocolate wrapped around cheesecake with raspberry crème garnish sauce. Note the in-house signature chocolates decorating the sides. Caloric penance.


    At the restaurant: a dessert so beautiful I actually took a photo


    In the parking lot: grated fern, a statement of deeper naturalism versus industrialism that Keats, Byron, or any of the Romanticist poets would have found poignant.

    Trapped Fern

    This can be viewed as either a poignant expression of nature being trapped by encroaching society or how nature finds a way to bloom amidst the trappings of industrialization. Or–isn’t that weirdly cool?


    On the highway: no way, amazing, sleek as a Woolworth counter grilled cheese sandwich on a pastel Bakelite plate, a blast from the past–an actual Greyhound bus sporting a “hundred years” sticker to boot.

    image: greyhound.com What are your memories of Greyhound?



    In the motel room: white noise box with ocean waves, complete with seagulls scree; forest dawn, crickets and birds quite charming,; rain pattering, too close to home; fan, buzzy hum. A novelty never before encountered and even available for purchase. Tried it on first night and grandkiddo, the one who needs a minimum of two-three books, some conversation, and a bit of snuggling was out within two minutes of being lulled by waves.


    Return home: a road trip is not complete without road construction delay. At one section the two lane highway is down to one lane and nobody is moving. Not no way. Not no how. Behind a little red car which is behind a huge white truck, yet from strained sneak peeks the road looks clear ahead. The MEPA is quietly muttering for  the car ahead to edge around truck. Finally it does, and like a cork popping from a bottle, traffic started flowing again. The problem? The exit ramp so full it flowed onto road. No flagger directing traffic, construction crew absolutely  clueless to havoc below on highway.

    Dinner stop: connection with youngest progeny for dinner. Roadside grazing produces guilt to eat lightly–salad bar. Yet when it’s $12.00 though all one can eat, I strive to get my  monetary satisfaction. It is possible to overdose on greenery, especially when artichoke hearts and curried chicken salad are involved.

    Rolling in late to home some 6 hours later than the Google Maps prediction: truly there is no place like home

     

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