Save California State Parks!

31 07 2009

I may not currently live in California, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. In fact, living away from what is arguably our nations best state has made me even more devoted. I love New York, and I am fascinated by the number of beautiful places and the rich cultural and historical sights and stories the East Coast has to offer, but you don’t get much better than California’s weather. Until, that is, you add its beaches and its mountains and its incredibly laid back and happy people (how can you not be happy living there?).

And this to say nothing of its many popular and incredible State Parks. Recently, however, things are a bit amiss in the Golden State. It’s no secret that California is having some money troubles. And these money troubles mean troubles for the State Parks. The recent budget cuts mean the possible closing of up to 100 state parks. Travesty much?

So I’m taking a moment to get a little political (and a little sappy) and urge everyone who has ever marveled at the enormity of a redwood (or dreamed of doing so) to take action. Get more information on what you can do here.

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Traveling Books

9 07 2009

Literally. I just discovered bookcrossing.com and am fascinated. The site allows for the sharing and discussion of books in an organic, wholly amusing way. Here’s the quick version: sign up for an account here (for free), then register a book and write the BookCrossing ID inside. “Release” the book (translation, leave your book on the train, a park bench, on someone else’s doorstep…), then wait. When someone finds your book, they can come back to BookCrossing and enter the ID, then hopefully, make some sort of journal entry about said book before re-releasing it.

While I’m not ordinarily one to “release” my books (call me a pack rat, overprotective “mother” or whatever else you will—if I like a book, I want it to stay with me), I’m into this idea. I love the idea of setting something free into the universe for someone else to find, and the idea of them being able to track it. Who knows? Perhaps your book could make it around the world. Stranger things have happened…





Rushmore Addendum (and more on girlfriends)

7 07 2009

I realize now that I was mistaken about the name of said creepy Texas town. After writing the post, I quickly dashed off an email to Kristi and Christine, noting that the town of Leprechaun became even more creepy when it failed to exist. Both remembered said town and the fear and speed with which we passed through it. But Kristi made a good point: the town was not named Leprechaun at all. Here I will quote Kristi, because she captures the sentiment well:

I saw the blog post of the road trip! And it got me thinking more about that lovely stop in Texas we made and realized that it was actually Shamrock, TX that we went to (hwy 40 goes right through it). Aside from the creepiness factor, I remember joking that leprechauns were going to jump out of hiding places and kill us (probably where you got the idea that the town was Leprechaun, TX). I also remember a lot of neon signs and a lack of people. There was some food court area or county fair area and nobody was there – it was empty – like a ghost town. So instead of eating dinner there, we drove to the next town.
To further underline the “FREAKIN CREEPY” aspect of the town, she included a link to this image:
My point here is twofold:
  1. Shamrock, TX remains just as creepy a prospect as Leprechaun, TX would be if it did in fact exist, even though its Economic Development site makes it seem rather quaint( but does the happy waitress on the front page look as though she’s missing an arm??)
  2. Shamrock, TX is a “Legend of America,” which is a nice way of saying that even if it doesn’t have leprechauns waiting to prey on young college girls, it certainly has its share of ghostly lore. (Why, now, do I somehow find this aspect fascinating?)
  3. Most importantly, Shamrock, TX, and my “mis-memory” of it, sparked a whole new round of reminiscing about said trip, with this response from Christine: What a good trip that was, can you believe how young we were?? We couldn’t even drink. And why didn’t we bring any alcohol around with us to drink at night? What did we do for entertainment?…

Her list goes on, as could mine, but I’ll save more stories from the road for another day. Nearly 10 years later (gasp!) they still haven’t gotten old, and they are a sign of the strength of gal pal bonds and the thrill of travel that solidifies them. Perhaps that Shamrock was a little lucky after all…





Oh Schmap!

6 07 2009

I recently discovered that two photos I posted on Flickr were selected to represent Woodlawn Cemetery and the New York Botanic Garden on Schmap, this new, nifty interactive map guide. This was exciting because: a) someone likes my pictures! and b) I discovered Schmap, this cool new digital travel guide, where users can publish schmaps (with photos, reviews and trip itineraries)  and access maps and guides from anywhere. Yet another reason I need to invest in a smarter phone than the jenky one I currently have.





Fun Rushmore Facts, Road Trip Nostalgia and Girlfriend Trips

3 07 2009

Yesterday I received an email titled “Rushmore facts for my fellow visitors” from my friend Kristi. She sent it to me and to Christine, the third part of our road-trip-trio that spent a month one college summer crossing the country in my silver Saturn, the original Squirrel (named, incidentally, on that trip, by Kristi). The email contained a link to an SF Gate article, Mining Mt. Rushmore for trivia, which gave some fun facts about the notable but bizarre South Dakota landmark.

The article itself was fun, but what was more fun was the memory of seeing the mountain in person. Though Rushmore itself pales in comparison to the idea most Americans hold of it (it’s far smaller than one expects), there is something thrilling about the idea of actually having been there. It is, after all, in South Dakota—which means that, while iconic America, it’s not nearly as widely seen as, say, Lincoln Memorial or the Statue of Liberty. It seems as though Rushmore is one of those landmarks only visited when one lives close by or, like us, is simply passing through.

Which makes the fact that we’ve seen it even more exciting. One fact in the article was particularly gratifying: “The sculptor…Borglum…had devoted years to a Confederate commemorative carving at Stone Mountain.” Okay, so the fact that said mountain was financed in part by the Ku Klux Klan is somewhat upsetting, but the fact that we saw both huge carvings, Rushmore in South Dakota and Stone Mountain in Georgia—more than 1,000 miles away—in the same trip is pretty gratifying.

The most gratifying of all, however, were the memories that this very short article brought rushing back:  the shoddy campgrounds, the long detours, the rush through strange dark places like Leprechaun, TX (which, it should be noted, does not show up in Google searches, but I am certain we drove through it) and the whole state of Arkansas… And all the laughs and ridiculousness that stemmed from it. These days I don’t get to see those ladies as often as I’d like, and I remember that trip far less than I should, but no matter how far apart we live, or how many girlfriend trips I do, I’ll always cherish Road Trip 2000 as my first foray into girlfriend travel, and extensive travel in general.

It was that trip that instilled in me a love of travel, and showed me what it might mean to (literally) hit the road with your buddies. Not only is it a growing experience in general, but it changes the nature of friendship. We’d known each other some three years by then, but the things we learned and the conversations we had during those long hours in the Squirrel could not have been had anywhere else. And to this day I can’t imagine sharing that experience (or that tiny car) with anyone else either.