thanksgiving at the cabin

thanksgiving at the cabin, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

We celebrated our first west coast Thanksgiving together in the new cabin with Nick's mom and dad and Jupiter, who is sulking under the windows in the photo above. There are more photos of the feast, the ingredients, and the beautiful setting on belle's flickr page.



nails, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

. . . And straight to work! We couldn't wait to jump into our new project: the renovation and construction of our new shop space and apartment! Right now we are knee deep in demolition phase 1, which is not very photogenic. I managed to take some photos of the nails that were the object of my attention for the past two days. Them and all their little friends: Rusty, Curly, and Really Really Nailed in There. Here is what Nick looks like when he's trying to load bags of sheetrock rubble into the truck while I take photographs and ask when lunch is:


days twelve and thirteen: san francisco

at the deYoung Museum, Golden Gate Park

In Santa Cruz we stopped for a decadent Italian lunch at the home of our friends Jody and Terry. We sampled delicious olives, bread, and soup, surrounded by Terry's beautiful collection of blue willow china in their cozy dining room. We ate figs and apples from their garden. Afterward, we visited Terry's studio where she is working on drawings of apple boughs. It was great to see some of her most recent landscape paintings and drawings in real life. We felt so at home, and it was hard to leave! What a warm welcome to California.

San Francisco is a beautiful, moody city where each neighborhood not only has distinct shops and street life, but its own weather. We couldn't wait to meet up with Nick's oldest brother, Cody, at his Potrero Hill restaurant, Lingba. Since our last visit he renovated the bar and restaurant, and it looks fabulous! He continues to experiment and update the Thai menu, with luscious results. Our favorite thing to do in SF is hang out at the bar and sample something spicy.

These photos are from our visit to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The photo above looks across the plaza at the not-yet-completed earth science museum. On Saturday, we spent the whole rainy afternoon in the cavernous galleries and twisting observation tower of the city's newest architectural adornment. The space is perfectly suited to their current exhibition, the sculptures of Louise Nevelson.

Famished from looking at art, we went to a Japanese mall for noodles, soup, and hot tea. And to watch crazy hordes of teenagers dressed up like cartoon characters. There were several Totorros. Totorri? Cody treated us to a sumptuous feast at Oola, the restaurant he is a partner in, later that night. By Sunday morning he practically had to roll us back to the rental truck -- we were stuffed!


day ten and eleven: pacific ocean

click on the photo for a closer view!

After we left the Grand Canyon, we drove and drove and drove across the Mojave Desert and spent the night in blah blah blah blah . . . and on the eleventh day of our road trip we saw the ocean! We wove our way through the mountains that divide the desert from the orange groves and there it was: the Mighty Missipific. California's coastal highway made for great views and intense sport driving as we slowly made our way toward Big Sur.

Q: Have you ever heard of Big Sur?
A: Is it a new fast food chain?
Q: No.
A: Is it the new west coast rap impresario?
Q: No.
A: Is it Paul Bunyan's lumberjack boss?
Q: No. It is a forest teetering on the undulating coast of California. Also it is a national park and hippy haven about 3 hours south of San Francisco.

We planned to spend the night at a famous old lodge inside the park. After about 2 hours driving along the magnificent coast, we witnessed a stunning sunset (see photo above) and continued making our way north in the twilight. A strange red light appeared in the distance, and as we grew nearer it grew more intense. A half hour's drive further and we halted in front of a raging fire that seemed to cascade down the mountainside to the tumultuous waves below.

A dozen or more cars were parked ahead of us, including several emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Firefighters told the gathering crowd that the fire was under control, but traffic would not be permitted for a few hours. Most people, like us, returned to their cars and settled down for a nap, although one guy had a dvd player in his dashboard, and he and his friend were watching Clerks when we walked by. We woke up 45 minutes later to see that the fire had doubled in size, consuming all of the trees that formed the dark barrier in this photograph. Many of the other cars had already turned back, and we had no choice but to carefully turn the truck around and drive, painstakingly slowly, back the three hours down to our starting point. The only other traffic we encountered were seven more firetrucks headed toward the blaze.

We learned that the fire was only three miles from our destination; when we called the lodge they said they could clearly see it and that they were overrun with travellers stranded on the other side. When we finally reached a two-stoplight town, we begged the clerk at the Motel 6 to give us a room, even though he already had his coat on and keys in hand, ready to lock up. It wasn't until the next day that we heard the cause of the fire: a car gone over the cliff.

day nine: the grand canyon

Click on the photos to get a closer look!

Every sign, guide, pamphlet, and ticker tape leading up to the Grand Canyon warns against trying to hike down to the river from the rim of the canyon in one day. Peril lurks around every bend, hikers! Death be imminent for fools with inappropriate footwear and ye of little water bottles! Turn back now! And leave the rest for us!


day eight: acoma pueblo, new mexico

acoma pueblo, nm, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

There is a lot of sky out here. In fact, the people that live out here built their cities up on top of mesas to be closer to the sky. Acoma, known as Sky City, sits 400 ft above the rippling desert floor on a stone pedastal.

After paying $10 dollars to assuage the photo copyright gods we travelled by minibus to the summit of the mesa. They don't let the white man roam over Acoma freely anymore (The Duke filmed some bad westerns up there), so we attended the tour, led by Gary, of the Eagle clan. Gary was great, he was pious and insightful. Acoma is the oldest continuously-inhabited settlement in North America. They are a city state with their own symbols of hard-won religious freedom: the white painted ladders lead to the next mesa, invisible.

We also met Gary's friend Rupert, a local dog who had a crush on us. After the tour we climbed down the 1000 year old stone steps all the way to the bottom of the mesa (if mesas have bottoms) and we walked together to the visitors center where Rupert boarded the minibus and rode back up to the top.

You should visit Acoma. Here's the wiki on Acoma.


day seven: texas panhandle and east new mexico

Do you have any idea how many states have panhandles? We thought America was more about love handles. Anyways, this might actually be the pan handle itself. They say when Paul Bunyan passed through Texas on the way to Seattle he tripped over the boot of the giant cowboy along the highway in Amarillo and dropped his favorite cast iron pan and formed . . . this thing. Or maybe that was Pecos Bill?

Like the Pecos River meandering through this great land, Route 66 is all dried up. But whereas seasonal flooding brings the Pecos back to life each spring, the town of Tucumcari, NM, is like the hopeful, buzzard-pecked gazelle waiting along the banks of ole 66 for the lifegiving flood of tourism that will never come again. Except for us in our large yellow moving truck. We had the frito pie.


day six: oklahoma

abundant life, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

Upon Sunrise in Henryetta, we were greeted with this pastoral scene in both senses of the word. We think the font is called "Hand Saw" (that was for you, Jenny + Erik). Oklahoma lived up to the postal abbreviation. Everything here was OK: the food, the gas prices, and the night life. (Did you know that prohibition is alive and well in some counties of these united states?)

In Oklahoma City we visited the OKC National Memorial and the National Cowboy Museum. The OKC National Memorial honors the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the Oklahoma City bombing. It really did tear apart the heart of the city, right in the middle of downtown. We hope that someday soon New York City will be able to assemble a monument of its own like this one.

At the Cowboy Museum, which is bigger than the Met and has a huge garden attached to it, we saw The Duke's eye patch, Trigger's bridle, and some stuff from real life, too.

Travel Stats:

other nations visited: 5 (including Cherokee and Creek)
plant passengers: 4 (including two new ones from Aunt Juanita!)
funny smells: 17
cows: herds and herds
oil derricks: 12

day five: arkansas, the natural state

nick's bbq, carlisle, ak, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

If Illinois is the land of Lincoln, Arkansas is the land of Clinton. Although the people here don't wear it proud on their license plates like up north. If they could have license plates that read "land of bbq" people would have that.

Arkansas is a continuation of the friendly belt across America's waistband - the mid south region. We travelled across the bayous west of West Memphis after dark, and settled on Forrest City as our stopping place for the night. When the lady at the front desk saw that we came from New York, she exclaimed, "Ew I want to visit New York! What's that food y'all are famous for there? I can't think of it! Is it phillycheesesteak?"

So friendly!


day three and four: tennessee landscape

tennessee landscape, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

Basically, Tennessee is great. Dolly's from here, Loretta's from here, Isabelle's dad is from here. Gillian Welch isn't from here but she had the sense to move here. And so did the King. Nashville is here, which is just the coolest town, and it's where Isabelle's family has lived for a long long long time. We had so much fun running all over town with her Uncle Charles and Aunt Juanita Fentress and their daughter Karen. There is never enough time to hear all their stories that take place here, so we may just have to move here for awhile.

We stopped by our favorite print shop, Hatch Show Print! The printers inside were hard at work, sort of, and totally inspiring and welcoming, as always. The city was in mourning for Grand Ol Opry star Porter Wagoner (see the sign below Ernest Tubb's guitar).

Uncle Charles was on the Nashville City Council for many years, but with his encyclopedic knowledge of the place, you would think he was the mayor. We had a great time learning all about what Nashville used to be one time, and looking at all the new life sprouting up all over the city. Here he is with Sam Jones Fentress, named after Isabelle's great grandfather.

We visited Karen's work, where she is an assistant DA. If you have ever seen Law and Order, it's just like that, Fred Thompson even comes around from time to time. Aunt Juanita fortified us with a meal usually reserved for Christmas morning: her special casserole, delicious cheese grits (cheese grits!!!), and fresh baked Amish Friendship bread.

We were sad to go, but we had to forge ahead to Memphis. The gates of Graceland were closed for a private party, but we were welcome to stay in the parking lot "long as yall like". Even the security is hospitable in the volunteer state. We arrived at the banks of Old Muddy at sunset and crossed over that beautiful river into unknown territory: Arkansas.

day two: baltimore, md to bristol, tn

nice rig, originally uploaded by isabelle gr.

We chose the very best time of year to travel through the Shenandoah Valley alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves are just beginning to change and they are amazing.

We stopped for luncheon in old-timey Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stanton). The Staunton Railroad Station in tucked up on the hillside. Trains still run through the beautifully restored station, and they have a nice restaurant called The Pullman.

We hated to leave the Victorian gobbledy gook of Staunton, but the siren song of the highway called us . . . or maybe it was the travelling cd that Katy made us. (Katy, we sang along very loudly to the whole thing. Your cd confirms that you and Isabelle have identical musical taste.) Then we had miles ahead of the hard drivin. The life we love is singing music from our friends. We can't wait to be on the road again!

Bristol, Tee Enn a see, was a respite from the heavy strumming of that ole road song. We relaxed, watched Tee Vee and ate at Out Back Steak House. Yall whant more sweet tea?

walmart count: 7
plants in the front seat: 2 (maple ate one in baltimore)
hours on the road: um, nine or something