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.





September Highlights

7 10 2008

It’s definitely autumn in New York. The air is crisp, some leaves have started to change color, and I’m left bewildered and wondering what happened to September. Oh right, September was that quick little month during which I: started a new job at the Harlem Children’s Zone, scurried around Fashion Week, and curated a major literary extravaganza.

Somewhere between the sore feet and the frantic running, I managed to fit in two of my favorite things: travel and girlfriends. I got to take a little trip to the tiny town of Altoona, PA, where my dear high school friend Rachel, whom I hadn’t seen in a frightening five years happened to be for a wedding. My travel time of six hours each way about equaled the waking hours I spent in Altoona. The trip itself consisted of crashing the wedding, brunching and talking the following day at Friendly’s (east coast staple) followed by a long and thorough exploration of Target (more talking) before re-crossing the highway and returning to the hotel to lounge and talk some more. It was a simple trip and an amazing one, the kind that proves it does not matter where you are, or how long you travel, so long as it’s to meet a good friend.

And speaking of long trips, my lovely and amazing friend Liz made a huge one across the pond to visit me in New York. We walked all over town, gorged on sweets, and talked until it seemed we must have sucked the air out of the room. And still had so much left to say. It was fun to see New York through unAmerican eyes, but the best part was the realization that over a two week stint in Argentina I had made a lifetime friend. The wonders of travel.

Even more amazing, that in the midst of the chaos of September, I managed to fit in quality time with two amazing women and two great friends (old and new) who, in vastly different ways, are something of kindred spirits to me. I wonder what October will hold?





Hey June

4 06 2008

Today is June 4, and I’ve finally gotten around to changing my calendar. Not because I enjoy fashionably late but simply because it’s behind my door (near the shoe rack) and I happened to forget it was there. And so, in honor of June, some assorted, random musings (in list form, of course):

  • On June: June’s photograph on my Elliot Erwitt calendar happens to be one of my all time favorites: laughing woman kisses man, as seen through the side window of a car parked on the beach. (I would go into the social commentary ramifications of said photo, but I like it too much to go there). I find it serendipitous that it’s the photo for my birthday month and was taken in my home state. June will be a good month.
  • On the letter E: I seem to gravitate toward that letter, or specifically that letter in pairs. There’s Edward Estlin Cummings (also known as E.E.) whose quirky poetry style I adore, and there’s Elliott Erwitt, whose black and white photography is hilarious, thoughtful, and all around amazing.
  • On EE 1: Cummings has been my favorite poet since since high school, when I mimicked his quirky, artistic grammatical style in a paper. The only book I have of his, 100 Selected Poems, was given to me in high school by my dear friend Rachel, who shares my love of all things quirky and artistic. The well-loved volume made the trek to New York and contains my favorite poem, “anyone lived in a pretty how town,” but not my second favorite: “One winter afternoon,” which I love for the line “(at the magical hour/when is becomes if)” (enough, even, to talk about it here in a blog about my beloved summer).
  • On EE 2: I first discovered Elliot Erwitt and his lovely photography when I stumbled upon a special exhibit of his at the Prado while traveling with my college gal pals. We were obsessed, and now I look for him every once in a while to see what he’s doing lately. There’s something incredibly uplifting about his shots. And, of course, they’re quirky and artistic.
  • On friends: Since both EEs seem to make me think of the ladies with whom I (at two very different life stages) discovered them, and since (ahem, a confession) I saw Sex and the City this weekend (the new roomie twisted my arm), an homage to girlfriends and their incredible knack for being quirky and artistic.
  • On SATC: Since I’ve now confessed to seeing it (though will still see it again on Friday), a second confession: I cried unabashedly through most of it, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who know me well and know that I am, on all accounts, a crier. Nevertheless, Hollywood-ized though it was, it didn’t lose those three fantastic components: girlfriends, girl power, and New York City.
  • On New York City: Since I seem to be as SATC obsessed as all those countless fans who traveled to my city to see the movie, I’ll end with movie and city. My buds at EuroCheapo had SATC fever last week too, and posted a great blog about how “Cheapo Bradshaw” might see NYC. Great tips Cheapos!
  • On shoes: Alas, the gold stilettos are sick. I just discovered that they are breaking, so it’s off to the shoe doctor. Please oh please, nice shoe miracle worker, help my gold stilettos! But today, because, it’s rainy (and hot) it’s Havaianas for me.




Everything I Need to Know…

30 05 2008

…I learned from Sex and the City?

New York has Sex and the City fever this week. Movie theaters all over the city have had signs up all week advertising pre-sale tickets, the papers are all buzzing with the hype and anticipation, and I must admit I’m not immune. I discussed it yesterday over lunch with a friend, have been emailing about it with Liz (my Buenos Aires buddy) in London, and the girls here have been playing email tag all week to decide on a move-viewing date and post-movie outing. We won’t be in the throng this weekend, though, mainly because Libby will be out of town, and we can’t see the movie without one of the girls. That would be something akin to sacrilege.

But today, when I saw a group of women standing out in front of a movie theater, all dressed up and ready for the show, I got to thinking: what it is about SATC that gets us so excited, that makes groups of women not only plan seeing the movie, but plan travel so they can see it in New York?

The other night, when a friend mentioned she’d love an alcove apartment, “like Carrie’s,” another (male) friend commented on how strange it is that the show has influenced women so much. And sure, it has stimulated the way we dress, the places we eat, even the way we talk, but there are a few things far more important about the show (and now, I think, movie) than the really great style.

There’s New York, for one, which SJP has called the fifth character. The show is as much about New York as it is about the girls, and living here now I actually understand it. (At least in the summertime.) There’s something about New York City that captivates and overwhelms. It’s not just the Empire State Building and Central Park, but the Shake Shack, and the Union Square farmer’s market. It’s a crisp fall day, or better yet the first warm day after a brutal winter, when everyone comes out of hibernation and the parks literally hum with excitement. It’s the feeling that you’re part of all this, that in a city of nearly 20 million people from all over the world and all walks of life, you’re part of a community. Not to mention that New York (and SATC does likewise) makes the perfect companion for the single girl. Just ask Carrie herself.

And the reason that New York is a single girl’s companion is yet another reason we love SATC: New York, and the show, stand for independence, risk, and being an individual. I often tell people who ask how I like it here that my favorite thing about living in New York is that eight out of 10 people I meet are transplants, and not only are they transplants, but they moved here to follow some sort of dream (even if that dream was just to live in New York) and they took a huge risk in doing so. The SATC gals are grand because they refuse to be “tamed.”

But most the most important reason we love SATC is what it says about female friendship. Strong, unafraid (and stylish) females are what Around the World is all about, and my favorite part of that is celebrating girlfriends. The ones who help pick out date night outfits, and are there the next day to rehash every detail of said date, the ones who celebrate our triumphs and help clean up our messes, the ones who join us on trips, to stuff our faces or climb a mountain.

And with that, as a strong, risk-taking female and New York resident (and a Sex and the City tour veteran) myself, I welcome all the girls (and girlfriends) who have come to celebrate the movie. (Before, that is, I climb under my rock so no one spoils it for me.)

Oh, and did I mention that SATC is also about shoes?