Archive for February, 2010

Aunt and Cousin on the Coast

February 12, 2010

My apologies, dear commenter Hieronymous, for not keeping up with your blogging demands.  It’s a tricky thing this blogging.  When one does too few things, as I did in Miami, one runs quickly out of things to write.  But if one does a lot of things, as I have done bopping around for the last month and a half, then writing of them becomes tiring.  I wonder what the properly balanced rate of travel is?

Anyhow, after San Antonio I went to the Texan gulf coast.  My aunt and cousin just moved from Hawaii to the town of Rockport, TX.  I don’t think I’ve seen this family since I was twelve.  My one time two-year old cousin is now herself twelve.  Oy. Aging.  We did a lot of puzzles and cooked some fresh gulf shrimp.

Now, here’s something fascinating about Rockport, TX: it’s the winter home to the Whooping Crane.  This bird is the tallest in North America, with a wingspan upwards of seven feet.  Each year, the cranes migrate from northwest Canada to the small town of Rockport.  Actually, to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  They are extremely rare.  Only about 260 of them exist in the wild, and another 140 or so in captivity.  We went to Aransas and, I think, we saw some, though we couldn’t get close enough (on foot or through super-high-powered binoculars) to confirm.  I did, however, get within 10 feet of this alligator:

big gator

And this one:

little gator

Sorry about the poor quality images.  Cell phones.

San Antonio

February 9, 2010

Spent three days in San Antonio.  Seventh largest city in the country, just a step larger than Dallas (assuming you don’t lump in Ft. Worth).  Granted, it’s less populous than Brooklyn, than Queens, than Manhattan, than the Bronx.  Still, it’s a big city.

But not one that made much of an impact on me.  Good Mexican food.  And I’ll always remember the Alamo.  Ian and I were still together, and both of us were rather travel-weary.  Our hosts, Justin and Krista, were noble folk.  Took us out to a screening of Teen Wolf at a movie theater that serves beer and dinner to its patrons.  But really, we spent most of our time sitting in a coffee shop (actually, an ice cream parlor), eating breakfast, and watching streaming Netflix videos.  Some advice: avoid Big Fan, Good Dick, Spartacus (the Starz series, not the one with Kirk Douglas).

The morning of the third, Ian and I said our good byes, he hopped a plane to DC, and I my car to the Texan coast.  Once again, after a month of accompaniment, I’m on the road alone.

Austin, TX

February 5, 2010

I was planning on finding a place in Austin to sublet for the month of February.  After so much bumming, it was time to work.  Master planner that I am, I had perfectly arranged my Austin-month to coincide with Abby’s wedding on Feb 13.   But alas, the Austin campaign office shut down sometime in January.  I must have been TOO absorbed by Southern culture to check-in with the bosses.  Nearest open offices?  Albuquerque, Denver, Atlanta.  Oops.  Can’t leave Texas before the wedding.  The bumming continues.

Ian and I stayed in Austin for three nights.  We stayed with a UT junior named Drew.  Beer pong, college basketball, and amorphous conversations about Kierkegaard.  COLLLLEGE!

Went to the LBJ Library.  Far more subdued than the Clinton Library.  Its main point is, I think, pretty commonplace today: LBJ passed a LOT of great, progressive legislation.  Had it not been for Vietnam, the people would have loved him.  Obama should just LBJ it.

I bought a bunch of old campaign buttons, including one marking me as part of Nixon’s silent majority.

We had a blast in Austin.  But bbq and Mexican food aside, we could have just as easily been back in NYC.  I guess, big-city, hip, liberal culture ain’t too different any place you go, be it Austin or be it Brooklyn.

Tulsa, OK

February 4, 2010

Tulsa.  Land of my dreams.

I stayed with Roni, a Tulsa couchsurfer.  Alexi stayed with Nate, a friend from Columbia, and Nate’s family.  Ian joined us from Mexico.  Basically, Tulsa was crowded.

Again, I caught some great music.  Again, it was very un-New York.  A dive bar with a fireplace.  Everyone seemed to know each other.  The band covered John Prine and Prince.  Can’t go wrong.

The tourist site highlight was Oral Roberts University.  Oral Roberts was an early televangelist.  The buildings were all white and gold and looked like the future, if you’re into the Jetsons, or Heaven, if you’re into highly-symbolic, literalist interpretations of the Bible.  Nate asked questions about the dining facilities (happily answered by our all-too-friendly tour guide), and Alexi asked questions about their intellectual justifications for their faith (met with blank stares).  We left annoyed.

Alexi flew back to New York from Tulsa.  So ends our Southern Tour.  Ian and I slipped out early before an ice storm.  Caravan-style.  Texas-bound.

Little Rock

February 3, 2010

Left New Orleans, went to Little Rock.  I knew nothing of Little Rock before arriving.  Not even a Johnny Cash Song.  Bill Clinton.  I knew about Bill Clinton.  I had heard a lot about incest.  Otherwise, nothing.

We were charmed beyond our wildest dreams.  Our hosts Maggie and Jay, lovely folk that they are, took us out for music both nights we spent in town.  The music was great fun: dive-y, spacious bars with small stages and folky girls playing songs they wrote to a crowd that they mostly knew.  Not a New York scene, but certainly a reminder that there do exist good ways of living far away from that fair city.  And, believe it or not, you can’t beat the Arkansan women.  I think Alexi’s considering a move.

We hiked in the Wachita Mountains.  Twelve miles.  Reminded me of the Northeast.

The Bill Clinton Library was horrifically depressing.  It rambles on and on about the great achievements of his presidency: budget surpluses, record-low unemployment, international acclaim.  Clearly made in 2005, before recession and all, the place reads like an image of prosperity past with little mention of Monica or of Clinton’s own failed attempts at health care reform.  It also costs seven bucks.  Come on Bill, do you really need to nickel and dime us?

Oh, apparently the “national food” of Arkansas is cheese dip. Watch: