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Journal for 30 May 2006


Well, we’re on our way to Maine.  We just finished up a brief visit to Concord–following our visit to Vermont’s capitol, Lisa wanted to visit New Hampshire’s–and are now southbound on I-93.  I came down with a pretty nasty cold yesterday morning, so aside from one brief drive I’ll mention later, Lisa has been handling the driving today.

After a surprisingly stressful time doing laundry in Burlington (how were we supposed to know that the guy in jean shorts and a ripped T-shirt–the one Lisa at first was a street person–was actually the laundromat attendant?), we headed east to a number of scenic drives through the White Mountains, most notably the Kancamagus Highway.  The drives were pretty, although in retrospect I wish we’d had more information going in.  While we stopped at a number of the scenic overlooks and took a number of exceedingly short walks of the highway, it would’ve been nice to do something a little more substantial, like the hiking we did back in New York.   (We’re currently in a section of the trip that was originally planned to have us in Nova Scotia, so we’re kind of making this up as we go along right now.)  Then again, whatever kind of cold it is that I currently have was already making itself evident, so maybe it’s best that we stuck to driving.

We spent last night at a KOA near Twin Mountain, New Hampshire.  The folks running the campground has originally planned on putting us in one of the secluded tent-only sites, but due to recent visits by “the neighborhood black bear,” decided to move us closer to the main building.  While walking to our site we passed a little yellow sign stating “trespassers will be eaten,” with bear tracks painted across it.  Lisa was not amused by the sign, and, as it happens, became even less amused early this morning when she encountered the bear while walking to the bathroom.

(Lisa just told me she now thinks the bear was cute.  While I earlier told her that her initial reaction to the bear–to scream and run–was not appropriate, I guess I now have to deal with whatever implications finding black bears cute may involve.)

After packing up this morning, we headed out for a few more drives around the White Mountains before heading to Maine, including a spectacular drive up the Mt. Washington Auto Road.  While the price of entry was steep ($27 for car, driver and passenger), it was completely worth it.  The view was spectacular, and the drive right up there with the Needles Highway, one of my all-time favorite drives.  (Lisa has a thing about heights, so it was the one time of the day I drove.)

From there, it was down to Concord, kind of a long drive, but we had nothing else planned.  It was cool to see the state house–we squeaked in eight minutes before it closed–and found a quick dinner on the mostly deserted Main Street.  (It looks like Concord’s downtown closes up at 5:00.  Not sure where the locals go.)

And now comes Maine.  More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 6:20 am

Journal for 28 May 2006, Part II


Well, we’re back in Vermont, Burlington to be exact. As it happens, the city has a municipal campground, and that’s where we are now. It’s kind of a party camp, and many of the neighbors are juvenile and noisy (and, apparently, lesbian–I just heard “she was so hot until she started doing guys and heroin, I completely would have done her before that”), but considering it’s the Memorial Day weekend and we didn’t have reservations, I’m happy we found this reasonably good place to camp.


Today was a fairly low-test day, all things considered. We checked out of the Hyatt at noon and headed over to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, which I’d like to call the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum, except no one actually calls it that. We didn’t find it too interesting, but neither of us are the biggest modern art fans, so don’t take that to mean much. (That said, the Brian Junge plastic-chair whales were pretty amazing.) After a quick fast food lunch in the food court under our hotel–Quebec has plenty of chains, but most seem unique to the province–we headed out and back to the US. We almost didn’t get lost this time, but at least in this case the route to fix me missing an exit was pretty easy.

We drove down to Burlington across the Champlain Islands, a beautiful drive briefly interrupted by two friendly seniors standing in the middle of the road looking for donations to the local fire department. (They were protected by huge orange road-constructionish signs proclaiming “Coin Drop Ahead.”) Just over an hour later we witnessed a rather extreme case of road rage right before entering the city, but decided to ignore it and pretend that Vermont is as quaint as it generally seems.

Church Street in Burlington

After setting up camp, we drove into downtown to check out the city. As it happens, there are two Burlingtons. One is scenic, touristy, and generally enjoyable, and the other is run down and somewhat frightening. (And by frightening, I mean 300-pound-women-wearing-sports-bras frightening, which I regret to say we encountered more than once.) As with the earlier case of road rage, we decided to ignore what we saw and focus on the good.

We spent much of the evening on Church Street, and ended up eating at a cool little restaurant called Smokejacks. I had Alaskan salmon, which was paired with the most delicious asparagus I’ve ever tasted. (The salmon was good, too.) Regrettably, I can’t say the dinner was all good, as Lisa’s meal of seared tuna was chewy and in some cases borderline indelible. Kind of surprising for a restaurant that has gotten a fair amount of good press, but I guess that stuff happens.

From review, I really should’ve tried their burgers. Damn.


Well, it’s getting late, and I’m expecting this place to get very noisy very early tomorrow, so I should turn in. The next entry will likely be from New Hampshire, and after that, who knows.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:48 pm

Journal for 28 May 2006, Part I


Sunday morning in Montreal. We have to check out in less than an hour, so this has to be quick.

In retrospect, maybe Memorial Day Weekend was the wrong weekend to be here. This is an odd thing to say as we’re tourists, but there are too many tourists here. The last time I was in Montreal the city was relatively quiet, and Old Montreal was borderline vacant. That was kind of the city I wanted to show Lisa, and it’s nowhere to be seen this weekend.

That’s not to say the weekend has been a wash, however. Lisa did like Old Montreal, we’ve had some good food (notably some Indian food on Saint Denis last evening), and today we hope to piggyback on a free museum day going on throughout the city. But beyond that, there’s not much to note.


We rescheduled some of our plans Friday plans due to bad weather, mainly cutting out the northern Champlain islands and just heading up on the Interstate. We hope to hit those today instead, ending in Burlington, where we may be camping or hoteling depending on weather. (Some sources say 85 and sunny, others say 85 and thunderstorms.)

Next entry will be from who knows where. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:23 am

Flickr Problems in Montreal


Well, maybe I won’t be posting photos to Flickr from the road after all. Due to an Uploader bug, the only way I can seem to get photos to Flickr is to upload them manually through the web interface. Since I’m on vacation, and since using the web interface takes a lot of time, I’m not going to post any photos until I get back to Minneapolis.

And with that, we’re off to see Old Montreal. More later.

Posted in Site Admin,Travelog at 8:46 am

Journal for 25 May 2006


Well, we’re more in Wilmington than we are Lake Placid, but I’m not complaining as we got a really nice drive along the Ausable River as a result. This is my second night in a row blogging from a campground, only this time I’m by a very pleasant campfire. There’s a KOA wireless network available, but I’m not using it. Posting can wait until we’re in Montreal.


It was a pretty good day today. We had a lazy, comfortable morning at Hearthstone Point, followed by a trip down to Glen Falls to find a coffee shop with wireless access so I could download some of the traveling material I’d forgotten to print out. (Looking for good day hikes between Lake George and Lake Placid, I talked the exceedingly friendly girl manning the check-in booth at the campground. “There are mountains up by Lake Placid,” she said earnestly, but not following up that obvious bit of information with any details. “OK, thank you,” I said, and with that headed off and started plotting to get online.)

Between a Starbucks and a New York State information center, we did get some good information, and from Glen Falls headed up US 9 and then across NY-28n to Goodnow Mountain. The drive was really pretty and worth taking even if not going anywhere along the route.

Lisa on Goodnow Mountain

We spent about two and a half hours hiking up Goodnow Mountain and back, and it was easily the highlight of the day. The climb was kind of tough at points, but we made it, and the view from the old fire tower at the peak was spectacular. Lisa called the climb her own personal version of hell, mostly due to black flies attacking us every time we stopped, but in the end she really enjoyed it. It took her almost 15 minutes to climb to the top of the fire tower–did I mention she doesn’t like heights?–but once at the top had no real interest in leaving. The walk down was expectedly easier, and in a way something like a bit of a victory lap.

From Goodnow Mountain it was a relatively quick drive to our campsite, where we rushed to set up our tent before darkness enveloped it. (Lisa’s turned into quite a pro when dealing with tents.) After that we headed into Lake Placid for a bite to eat. We both wanted something healthy and substantial after a few days mostly consisting of crap, but due to the late hour had to settle for pizza at some Olympic-sized pizzeria named Mr. Mike’s. It wasn’t good, but then it wasn’t really bad, either, and since we’ll be in Montreal tomorrow we can probably make up for our food misadventures while there.


Tomorrow looks pretty exciting. We’re going to spend an hour or so in Lake Placid, take some scenic routes over to Lake Champlain, take another ferry across it, and then drive across the islands to Canada. Since we’ve cancelled Nova Scotia, we won’t have to cram nighttime Montreal into just one night, making for what I hope will be both an adventurous and laid back day.

The next post will likely be from Montreal. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 10:21 pm

Journal for 24 May 2006


Well, we’re in the Adirondacks. I’m typing away in our tent this beautiful, dark evening. My laptop is the brightest thing at this campsite, followed by the stars. I remember what the sky looked like when we lived up in the woods of Upper Michigan two decades ago, but it’s always nice to have a reminder.


Today was a pretty good day, a pleasant change for the rolling disaster that was Tuesday. I’m avoiding the word “unmitigated”, as we did eventually get to our hotel, just two hours late and with a different kind of car than the one I reserved. I don’t want to get myself riled up this evening, so more on that clusterfuck (and that stupid thick-necked blonde bitch at Budget) some other time.

Ben & Jerry's factory

Today got off to kind of a slow start. Our interest in Stowe, Vermont pretty much came to an end as soon as we left our hotel this morning. There was nothing wrong with it, per se, it was just better suited for old women wearing clothing from Chico’s than it was two Midwestern 30-somethings. We stopped for the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour on our way to Montperlier, which regrettably was basically the opportunity for ice cream lovers to pay to be advertised to. The time overlooking the factory did give an amusing side show, though, as a worker dropped a bunch of ice cream cartons on the floor, looked up at the observation room, saw me watching him, and then spent a minute and a half trying to get rid of them. First he kicked the cartons, then putting them on top of one of the machines, and then wandered around for 30 seconds trying to find a garbage can. The fact that he didn’t know what to do with them only told me one thing: In most cases, when tourists aren’t watching what the workers are doing, those cartons go off the floor and right back onto the assembly line.

Remember that next time you eat Ben & Jerry’s.


Vermont State House

Things got better as soon as we got to Montpelier. It’s a cool little town, sort of like a college town without a college (I think). We had a decent lunch, ran into a couple of exceedingly friendly Vermonters, toured the Vermont State Capitol (it’s very small) and generally wandered around a bit. From there we drove across the Green Mountain National Forest, stopping for a brief hike up Lincoln Mountain. It was a cool little hike, but it almost made us late for the last ferry across Lake Champlain to New York. A quick change of route and some aggressive driving got us there just in time for the last trip across. Drama, yes, but of the fun “we’re on vacation” kind. (The race was vaguely reminiscent of Ben and I racing to get out of Olympic National Park before road construction locked us in for the evening.)

After that, we headed down to the Hearthstone Campground, where we are now. It’s a very pretty place to camp. After setting up our tent we wandered around the campgrounds for a while, and then headed to Lake George to grab dinner and catch the finale of American Idol. And on that note, I’m going to turn this blog over to tonight’s guest writer, Lisa:

Even though we’re camping and being rustic, I still couldn’t help wondering…who will be our next American Idol? Surely we could drive into the cute little town we saw up the road, find a bar, grab some dinner and watch the finale?

Well, not quite. Lake George only had one Irish bar with four old guys watching baseball so we took the Interstate down to Glen Falls, and eventually across the Hudson River to South Glen Falls to see if there might be any better prospects. We eventually found a college bar with some kids hanging out front and sure enough on one of the TV screens was showing the finale. Of course they stopped serving dinner right as we walked in and Mark was starving so I knew he wouldn’t have the patience to wait another hour. We got back in the car and drove around to see if there was anything else, even wondering if Pizzaria Uno or the local Olive Garden might be showing it in the bars. At first I thought it would just be fun to catch the ending, but the more challenging it became, the more I wanted to see it. Seeing Mark getting frustrated though, I gave up and figured we could just eat anywhere. At that point however, every restaurant we pulled up to closed the minute we got there until we decided on a local roast beef fast food restaurant called Mr. B’s Best. We grabbed our food and we still had 20 minutes left of the show, so I turned to Mark and said, I know I’m crazy but we’re going back to that college bar! So we sped back through the town and made it to see the last 10 minutes.

Even though I felt a little ridiculous, it was all worth it to see Taylor Hicks win over that yucky Katherine (McFever-my A$%). Anyway, I guess there is a fox outside our tent now, so I better get going. Bye, LM.

So, as Lisa said, we went from watching FOX to seeing a fox. I preferred the latter, but to each their own.

OK, time to go out and look at the beautiful, starry night. The next entry will likely be from Lake Placid. (And no, I’m not talking about the stupid alligator movie.)

More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 10:16 am

Journal for 23 May 2006


7:50 Eastern Daylight Time. We’re about an hour outside of Boston. This is a cramped, packed flight (even by Northwest standards), so as a result I’m typing this on the laptop without looking at the screen, for which there is no room due to the seat in front of me. (Thankfully Andre the Giant-ish guy in front of me switched seats to the exit row. Otherwise I’d really be fucked.) Hopoefully my fingers are hitting the right keys. Anyway, our flight was delayed for over an hour due to strong winds at Logan, meaning we’re going to be getting into Stowe well after midnight. That’s unfortunate, but hopefully we”ll get to bed soon enough that we won’t be wiped out tomorrow morning–and have enough time to wander around Stowe a bit before heading west to the Adirondacks.

It was very warm in Minneapolis before we left today. While it’ll be sweltering back home, much of our trip out here will should see highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. (One might may dip down into the 30s, but we’re prepared for that assuming Northwest doesn’t lose the luggage with tour camping equipment in it.) There’s a slight chance of snow one night, but I’m not telling Lisa that. Besides, frozen precipittion when camping builds character.

I haven’t driven in in Boston before, so that should be interesting. It’s not like the city has a road system that can be easily internalized by glancing at a map, not to mention Boston’s reputation for drivers who are a bit lacking in social skills. But I’ve survived LA and Detroit, so I’m not too frightened. Yet.

50 minutes to Boston. The next entry will likely be from the Adirdoncaks.

More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 8:13 pm

Journal for 23 May 2006


1:56 a.m. We just finished packing and getting ready, so I guess we weren’t as prepared as I thought Sunday night. Despite all the rushing, it still hasn’t really struck me that we’re embarking on a huge air/road/ferry trip in less than 12 hours. That’ll probably happen while we’re standing in the airport, I guess.

Due to weather and logistical reasons, we’ve decided to scrap the visits to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We’ll take a financial hit for the change, but it’s the right thing to do. The Atlantic Provinces should be their own trip, not a detour on an already aggressive vacation. (Besides, I’m 14 years overdue for seeing the Bay of Fundy, so what’s another year or so?)

I spent almost a half hour securing our home this evening, which is kind of ridiculous considering the condo will actually be occupied every night we’re gone, but that’s the kind of thing paranoid homeowners do, I guess.


15 hours to Boston, 19 hours to Vermont. I’ll try to drop a few posts while we’re on the trip, plus add some photos to the Flickr account. (Good thing I don’t have a GPS-enabled cell phone. One can only imagine the kinds of travel-blogging stunts I’d attempt if I had technology like that.) And on that note, I’m outta here.

Posted in Journal at 2:21 am

Journal for 21 May 2006


It was a pretty busy weekend. Friday brought another bad movie, while Saturday brought a graduation cookout for one of Lisa’s coworkers and a visit to the phenomenal new Minneapolis Public Library. (It’s a great building, if not one that’s completely finished with construction.) Today was mostly consumed by efforts at cleaning the house, shopping and packing in preparation for the trip out east. (We don’t leave until Tuesday, but being ready today means tomorrow evening won’t be one long mad rush.) There’s still a little bit of packing to do, and the living room could definitely use a visit by the vacuum cleaner, but other than that we’re ready.

This time two days from now, we’ll be in Vermont.

Posted in Journal at 11:55 pm

MovieLog: The Da Vinci Code


While The Da Vinci Code is by no means the unmitigated disaster some have portrayed it to be, it’s by no means good, and in that sense it didn’t seem that odd that the guy sitting next to Lisa and I fell asleep about a third of the way through the movie.  All the actors seemed to be on sedatives–especially Audrey Tautou, who’s character had practically no response to learning she was related to Jesus–and in the end it kind of felt like we’d just watched an action movie that had forgotten to include the action.  Robert Langdon’s cop-out speech near the end of the movie was annoying, too, especially since it was worded broadly enough to basically endorse the behavior of the bad guys in the story, not to mention those taking part in religious practices ranging from ritualized paganistic sex to, oh, human sacrifice.

If the book is even half this bad, I don’t want anything to do with it.  5/10.

Posted in MovieLog at 11:26 pm
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