March 25, 2014 § 4 Comments
We were wide eyed and speechless for the first 10 miles of the day. I could not remember a drive like this in our 18 years in New Hampshire. Here we were, on March 25, deep in the mountains of western Virginia, on a steep, narrow and completely unplowed road with hairpin turns, the only way out toward North Carolina. Having no idea of how long this road would last, all I knew was that the minutes were stretching and the silence weighed ominously.
Five hours later, as we crossed the state line into North Carolina, it stopped snowing and the first trees we saw had just begun a pale pink bloom. As in The Wizard of Oz, the movie, the landscape instantaneously turned from black and white into color.
Our long day ended with another unbelievable, a dinner at Herons in Cary, North Carolina,
with a glass of great wine.
Finally the last (and best) unbelievable: The words from my husband as he looked at the forecast on his phone before we went to sleep: “Wow! In 48 hours it will be 73 degrees…”
October 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
It has been a little over a week since the moving truck miraculously, as it seemed for us, found our driveway and delivered our old household goods and treasures from across the country.
We drove over two thousand miles with a car loaded with last minute additional stuff, so many years after the last covered wagon brought settlers westward over a long and treacherous journey, carrying only the bare essentials to start a new home.
In the past year I had been reading journals and letters from pioneer women, fascinated by the stories of their feats, misadventures and tribulations over months-long cross country trips of a lifetime. I have thought of them often since we left our New England home three weeks ago. Of course there are many obvious differences between what they had to put up with and what my husband and I have experienced on the journey. Obvious because of the progress in transportation, communications, safety, accommodations, and all those things we take for granted now. However there is one thing that was not at all obvious for me at first: the now indispensable help of the internet.
Every day since we arrived in Santa Fe, we have relied on our cell phone internet connection for information that would have taken months to gather from friendly, welcoming neighbors, local word of mouth, or through multiple trials and errors.
Where is the closest Home Depot? How do we dispose of our trash; where do we recycle so many cardboard moving cartons? Where and when do the local farmers’ markets take place? Where is the best breakfast place in town? What does a black widow spider look like, or tips on bread baking in high altitude. A few samples of the questions we constantly have asked Siri, and even if she was fairly reliable, unlike a local old timer she didn’t answer with a local accent (we got good laughs at how she pronounced street addresses like “Camino del Cielo” or “Calle Acequia Baja,” for example).
So now what kind of questions can we come up with to have a pretext to meet our neighbors, to hear the local lore, to listen to the views of an old local sage who brings unique, quirky insights on the community, to exchange and compare views on our respective backgrounds. To make friends who, as our neighbors back in New England, might one day come to the rescue when bad weather strikes, or bring vegetables from their garden surplus; whose wayward dog we can safely return to them from our yard; or just to shoot the breeze when we are all out in our driveways?
We can always Skype with our old friends and neighbors back in New England, but no matter how strong the signal is around here the Internet will not bring us close to our new neighbors the way a knock on their door will.
October 15, 2013 § 2 Comments
If you want to have breakfast on the road after you leave Lubbock on your way to Amarillo be prepared to drive about 50 miles before you find a place that will serve anything to eat. Mile after mile we saw nothing but flat land, a couple of small towns, cotton gin plants, farm equipment and truck parts garages, grain mills and their railroad, abandoned homes and gas stations. Hungry and with our eyes fixed towards the roadsides or the seemingly never ending road straight ahead on the horizon, we sat silently, feeling like total strangers in this bleak end of the world. A place where no one goes anywhere or lives for much.
Finally, in the town of Plainview, past New Deal, we saw a couple of fast food signs and stopped at an IHOP. It was chilly, 48 degrees, with a biting wind and still overcast, but warm inside, serving a hot breakfast.
An hour or so later the sun came out on the plains. Looking forward to a walk in the fresh air, we went to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo.
And tonight we stay at The Big Texan Motel in Amarillo, our last night before Santa Fe and our new home …
A colorful Texas motel,
complete with a horse hotel,
And to top it all off a glorious evening sky…
October 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
Back on the road today, we drove from Austin to Abilene to Lubbock in the Texas Panhandle. At last, away from the Interstate, the road was quiet and the landscape peaceful. The sky was overcast with heavy rain or drizzle so we got to see Texas in unusual weather.
Peabody’s restaurant in Goldthwaite was a bet but it turned out to be a great find. The place looked like a modern concrete and steel barn, industrial decor at its most authentic, where farmers on lunch break where catching up on the topic of the week: the rain!
We could have been in 1970, 80, 90, 2000 or now, no way to tell for sure. Best choice on the menu: a juicy, fluffy slice of meatloaf made by the wife of the restaurant’s buffet server, with ‘tatoes and white gravy, corn bread and glazed carrots…. and mmm, it was good!
Later, back in the car, my husband woke me up around Roscoe to see that we were driving through what turned out to be one of the largest wind farm in the world. We would have never thought that in the Oil State alternative energy projects were also Texas size!
The landscape changed as we neared Lubbock. Oil wells with their dutiful jack pumps bowing regularly appeared all around us in the middle of backyards, cotton fields, parking lots and abandoned plots.
And in Lubbock, after a steak dinner and
as there was not much else to do, we finally checked in for the day,
but not before taking one or two last pictures, in Red, White and Blue!
April 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
The Quartier des Abbesses, at the foot of the Hill of Montmartre, feels like a old French village. With its cobblestone streets winding up and down, its cottage houses, ateliers, small rickety whitewashed buildings and colorful vintage storefronts, it evokes the old Paris of Eugène Atget or Robert Doisneau.
Recently settled by young and trendy Parisians who brought along myriad small designer stores, cafes, galleries, vintage shops and tiny bookstores, the Quartier des Abbesses has retained its family neighborhood aspect by keeping its long established produce, cheese, bread shops and Sunday markets.
A rare instance of the best of both worlds for a capital city, I thought.
This is where Véronique and I, starving and exhausted from our lenghtly explorations, found what we called a “Girl Restaurant”: a place for a quick and inexpensive lunch of homemade soups, salads and desserts.
At 62 rue d’Orsel in the Eighteenth Arrondissement, MILK (Mum In Her Little Kitchen) is a tiny, quirky, bright and colorful place, decorated with a wonderful collection of vintage kitchen items straight from my childhood and serving delicious “mom’s kitchen” food.
Our new secret lunch place in Paris…