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Utah (2) April 29, 2016

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Most of my adult life, I wanted to go to Utah. It was always on the list of possibilities, but when we’d head west, we’d always end up on the Pacific coast or going back to the Arizona desert and visiting friends. Knowing that Utah would have to be two trips and being unable to pick which way to go first (Arches and Canyonlands vs. Zion and Bryce) also played a factor. Then Bill and Susan moved to Castle Valley, outside of Moab, so Arches and Canyonlands (and Dead Horse State Park and Salt Lake City) it was! (And what about Capitol Reef? Well, there wasn’t time on the first trip…)

I will not do a better job writing about Utah now than I did two years ago, so I’m linking you to that post, complete with photos and a dog story. (Who doesn’t love a dog story?) It was an amazing trip, and I miss the landscape and my friends.

Been there?: Yes

Texas April 28, 2016

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In some ways, it’s ridiculous that I haven’t spent real time in Texas. When I began getting serious about birding, the Peterson guides sold one for eastern birds, one for western birds, and one for the birds of Texas.

It’s all about the migration, baby.

And yet, the only time I’ve been to Texas is that one time to Houston, with Dana, when we went to a conference for medical writers and editors. We were stuck out in a hotel/conference center wasteland, and Houston was a city clearly designed for people with cars, not for pedestrians. We took a tour of the MD Anderson Cancer Center—there must have been a bus or van from the conference site. The saving grace was that Dana’s brother lived there, and he graciously picked us up, drove us around a bit, and took us out for barbecue.

It gets tricky, this deciding whether you’ve really been to a place or not. And Texas is so big.

Reasons I’d like to venture back within its borders: Austin. And birds.

Been there?: Yes

Tennessee April 27, 2016

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My parents met in Nashville. So no Nashville, no Indigo Bunting.

I went to Tennessee once when I was thirteen (see Arkansas).

Then, after we moved to Vermont, Tim and I flew to Tennessee to visit my former coworker/line-o’-Lornas partner Dana and her husband Chris. By then, they’d had to get married. Twenty-plus years ago I knew several couples who publicly refused to get legally married, but then did, rather quietly, to ease the process of adopting a child or getting benefits offered only to the wedlocked. Chris was in a craft school, and Dana was working administratively at the university and getting him a tuition break. So: married.

Chris has since become a successful metalworker with pieces shown in museums and one in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. They left Tennessee long ago.

But we had a wonderful weekend there, and we wandered around downtown Nashville and ate yummy food and went to the Museum of Tobacco Art and History, which was surprisingly great, but sadly it closed not too long after that, before the turn of the century.

We weren’t there long enough to take in music. So clearly, we should go back someday.

Plus, that time I was in Memphis, Elvis was still alive, so I’ve never toured Graceland.

Been there?: Yes

South Dakota April 26, 2016

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I don’t know what to think about Mount Rushmore National Memorial. I mean, on the one hand, wow. Talk about installation art. On the other hand, wow. Talk about hubris. Who decides it’s OK to carve up mountain faces and replace them with the faces of a bunch of white guys?

Would I go see it if I were in the neighborhood? Well—yes.

I’ve never been to South Dakota. Sewa Yoleme, isn’t this where you once got physically/spiritually lost? In the Black Hills? or the Badlands?

Been there?: No

South Carolina April 25, 2016

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I’ve driven through it. On that trip to Florida, we saw all those South of the Border signs, and of course we stopped there. We were eleven. But does that count as being there? After all, I didn’t count driving through Nebraska and Kansas as really being there.

My neighbor, whose art decorates my house in multiple ways, is from South Carolina. “Do you know where South of the Border is?” he asks. Near there. Grew up in the same town as Vanna White.

My accountant moved to Myrtle Beach.* When he migrates north in February/March for a couple of weeks of northerly tax appointments, I marvel at his tan.

Some of my Maryland high school buddies have moved there in our old age.

I would like to see Charleston. And other snooty places.

Been there?: Yes but No

 

*I have this nagging feeling that I was in Myrtle Beach once. But maybe not.

Rhode Island April 22, 2016

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My mother grew up there.

When I was growing up, we’d sometimes visit my aunt and uncle and cousins at their Narragansett house. It’s the only place I really feel like I’ve been to in Rhode Island, although once our aunt took us to a famous fancy restaurant on the water in Newport, and my cousin’s memorial service was in an old church in Wickford.

This Blossom Dearie song often gets stuck in my head:

Been there?: Yes

Pennsylvania April 21, 2016

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Pennsylvania is my junior year of high school (that year my dad took a sabbatical) and me thinking I could be someone else for a year, but finding out that I was, alas, still me. State College, though, was a great town.

Pennsylvania is Gettysburg, just over the border, a half-hour or so away from my Maryland town, where Sue and I would see summer stock and eat cheesecake at the Lincoln Diner. It’s hanging out at Fantasyland when she worked there and with the whole cast between shows. It’s hours and hours at the battlefield with high school buddies and a candlelit picnic at Devil’s Den. It’s biking there later with Tim, in college, then sometimes on weekends when we lived in DC, and even twice in recent memory when we could steal away from family and rent bikes and make it happen. It’s that one time I got a serious case of poison ivy on parts of my body you would not think would be exposed to such a thing. It’s that other time we were resting on a bridge and the bird we’d been looking for—a red-headed woodpecker—landed on a branch above us.

Pennsylvania is college and camp counseling. It’s sugaring at the field station. It’s falling in love, or trying to, or trying not to.

Pennsylvania is my wedding day.

Pennsylvania is my husband’s family and holidays. It’s some beautiful fishing spots. It’s a lot of people I’ve loved since the day we met.

Been there?: Yes

Oregon April 20, 2016

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Oregon is sleeping in a hotel that used to be a school: our room an old classroom with chalkboards and a cloakroom, plus a brewery down the hall. It’s a wine tour and fishing the Umpqua. It’s the stunning Crater Lake and at last seeing crossbills. Oregon is the marvelous Metolius River and that glass of wine we had on the patio and our disbelief (not owning one ourselves) that a household dishwasher could run for way more than an hour. Oregon is splurging on a couple of nights at a resort on the Rogue River where we were the obvious hoi polloi. It’s beaches and sea stacks (but that horrific traffic jam that kept me from tidal pools). Oregon is Portland and Powell’s. It’s the Chinese Garden and that great photo of Tim and tea, and the Japanese Garden with Holly and Maggie. It’s Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville fish hatchery. Oregon is a well-loved twentieth-anniversary trip. Ten years ago.

Been there?: Yes

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Oklahoma April 19, 2016

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I’ve never been to Oklahoma. But that high school friend I keep mentioning, Sue, is involved in producing a new musical there this fall. So there is the slightest chance I will go to Oklahoma, assuming everything moves forward as planned.

After all, I’m just a girl who cain’t say no.

Should I see it in Tulsa or Oklahoma City? Discuss.

Been there?: No

Ohio April 18, 2016

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Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, several friends decided to camp in a forest in southern Ohio. They laid their sleeping bags on the soft pine needles and went to sleep.

At first light, one friend quietly woke another. He pointed upward. She, being near-sighted and astigmatic, put on her glasses. There was a tiny owl sitting on a low branch above them.

A tiny owl in Ohio once upon a time.

Been there?: Yes

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