Archive for March, 2010

Conneticut, Vermont, Massechussettes, and onto the Winter Olympics in Vancouver

March 1, 2010

So as you were reading in my last post I was now in Waltham ,  to attend the premiere of Gary’s sister-in-law Jeanne Taylor Shapiro’s cinematic debut.  The Shapiro’s house however was in a town named Bolton not that far from Worcester where Gary and I had stopped in at a bar which was having an event which seemed to be a nineteen twenties dress up party musical evening (and also when we saw the sign for the Holy Cross versus Army hockey game which we would later attend).

We were not originally going to stay over but having escaped winter storms in both the mid south and the midwest by making tracks I advised Gary we better leave early to go north of the deluge as to almost totally avoid it.  After a late night arrival and a little reading and a little tough breathing in the morning I enjoyed my first ever pistachio bagel.  Then after conversation with the filmmaker and her spouse we raced over to Waltham to see the film.  Most of the cast attended and the response was ecstatic it was a tour de force of mood, the light dwindling in the late summers caress of lost early love of the dream disappearing into the bitter~sweetness of what is yet to come and perhaps it is or was a bit more Fitzgerldian then what we are used to from a  Hemingway interpretation,  but, there is still a  lot of Greenberg mixed in.

On the way back I had my eye on the hockey game and in my mind with that Holy cross there was a cross burning on the hill a flaming beacon bringing me forth towards the arena and blazing in my presence.  After the screening where the three boys who had played the brothers in the film and their cousin ruled their roost as did Taylor Shapiro and as the cast and crew posed for photographs.  Then soon it was time for the lunch at the Tapas restaurant nearby, where, this blogger had Duck in pomegranate sauce and artichoke fritters.

When we got back Gary brought me over to Walden pond long ago the home of the naturalist and writer Henry David Thoreau and we surveyed as much of it as we could upon this frigid day.

On the way back to NYC  we had it perfectly timed to stop at Holy Cross to see the hockey game which was a little into the first period when we arrived.   Though the game was a decisive victory by the cadets  learned that Bob Cousy and Tom Heinson were holy cross alumni and much more later about the Healy brothers (one of whom was the first african american president of a US university (Georgetown) and had the famous hall named after him there.

Then I was home for a few days before I traveled to a motel 6 in Connecticut to watch the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver winter games.  I arrived early at the motel and with the few hours to kill ventured to see some of the sites that i had watch on the Mystic seaport tourist television program broadcast as part of the cable formatting in the room that this traveler had watched through many updates over the years.

The first stop was the Lyman Allyn art museum in New London or thereabouts really this museum was new to me as was going past the United states Coast Guard academy nearby.  here there were lots of regional and older American paintings as well as a survey of modern and contemporary art including that of Wilfredo Lam the Afro-Cuban painter who combined Cubism, surrealism, and magical realism at different times and counted Picasso among his compatriots in Montmartre.

Then this venturer went over to the Nuclear sub base and museum in Groton, Connecticut to see the museum and the historic Nautilus which is docked their permanantly。  Also Nyc tour wise I was able to learn about the Bushnell submersible developed by a Connecticut man andthe aborted attempt tosink  Admiral Howe`s flagship in New York harbor authorized by General George and executed by another Connecticut man, Ezra Lee. Next this motel room bound tv viewer went over to have the buffet (where they serve New England clam chowder) everyday at  Foxwoods.

So then finally after checking all my suff on the internet at the simulated apple store (with apple products but not owned by apple used apples not rotten to the core) conveniently just off the casino floor this television watcher to be drove back to the motel six somewhere in the vicinity of  Flanders and Niantic.Approximately four years prior this blogger had made it to Torino and the one event (besides the opening ceremony wich included a performance by Pavarotti which turned out to be his last) he had seen had been the luge (both one man and two man in the gold medal races), tickets had been available and the motto of the games had been “Passion Lives Here“  most had to work.   Nothing had ever been more exciting more fast the aerodynamic sits the blades on the ice the sliders moving faster then the eye could see a line of chroma blazing only to reappear and zip out of sight once again the swiss and Austrians slinging cow bells the tightly packed crowds the surge the mountain air the multiple cappucinos the executives from U.S steel explaining the corporate sponsorship of the metal edges used for the sport– but now these games opened with a acknowledgement of the first nations chiefs as equals to other world leaders but also the death in a practice run of a young Georgian luger named Nodar.   The luge run would not be the same the start was lowered to where the women’s race began and I could not make it there for soon I was headed with my oft named friend Neil to a farmer`s confrence in Burlington ,Vermont.

It was a long drive to Burlington , much longer than I had thought.  I had passed the sign for the ferry across Lake Champlain several times on the way back and forth to Montreal but this was the first time that this blogger would be here.  The conference which Neil would be attending (he wants to start a farm) with I tagging along would be at the University of Vermont.  Upon arriving it was almost as if a Japanese wrestling match sumotaneous he was at the bus station but couldn’t wait so he told me what hill to drie up to find him where.

Where was at the U of V and soon we walked across the street from a large church where they were ending one program and setting up for nother to a question and answer session across the street which was followed by a Vermont farmers celebration cake with heavy icing of which I but not he took part.  After this event which took place in a wonderful wood paneled room which had a hemispherical like shape we talked in the hallway with a man who built and sold moveable greenhouses.  Then I (we) had the first of many cups of Green Mountain Coffee which almost seems to be the official Java of the state ( as is Ben & Jerry the ice cream).

Then we walked across the street and Neil said some senators would be talking (and who knew) and now the whole church was filled as it was both of Vermont’s United States Senators (Patrick Leahy(D) and Bernie Sanders (I) but caucuses like Joe Lieberman with the Democrats and was as a congressman the first socialist ever elected to the US House and is also a former mayor of Burlington) as well as Vermont’s lone United States congressman and lo and behold the United states Secretary of Agriculture, former Iowa governor and presidential candidate Tom Vilsack.

this was the Vermont farmers annual meeting and much of the crowd was interested in this issues pertaining to independent and small family farmers versus huge agri business.  They bombarded the affable Vilsack with questions and suggestions and one angry man screamed at him about the Yankee nuclear power plant and perhaps got questions by the  some feds.

Next it was time to do something else and Neil wanted to go to a young farmers event after a meal and some lectures in University of Vermont classrooms on subjects like the future of soil and farm rehabilitation camps.  Still I ate more apples but played it easy on the coffee after a health screening indicated that perhaps I should.

There was a main area in alarge building on campus which featured vendors selling things such as live worms and beekeeping paraphernalia, and meanwhile there were members of the Vermont secessionist movement in the abound (they even have their own Vermont republic flag).  Free ice cream was being given away while sing along guitar music was being played.

The first night we had to stay in the nearby town of St. Alban’s because everything in Burlington was seemingly booked.  First we got the hotel and then we went back to Burlington for a young farmers party where we partook of various refreshments and saw a film about the move to get young people to return to farming.  This was in a multi story building in Burlington on the second floor while on the first floor there was an exhibition opening about the video game in contemporary art (but it was mostly ho hum).

I had wanted to see the University of Vermont Art museum while there but it was closed on this weekend.  Seeing lake Champlain was lovely and now this blogger felt relaxed enough after finally getting all his mileage points from Emirates air posted to his Continental account to book his flight to the winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia with a stopover to help a friend and a friend of this friend with an art escapade and to see the CIty by the Bay to which he had never been before.

Meanwhile somewhere whereabouts on the way back into Burlington from St Alban’s this writer and his friend stopped at the Goodwill store and this blogger got a pair of Paul & Shark linen yellow pants for $5 and a Helly Hansen suit for a similar price.

Meanwhile this blogger had heard an advertisement for the Von Trapp family lodge and was determined to stop there for what turned out to be breakfast in Stowe in the snow on the way out of town.

Meanwhile in town the second morning we were there and the first to eat together we ate in the Blue bird cafe which had many fattening things grown by local farmers but also some healthy choices in lovely wood surroundings and a pleasurable if not expensive breakfast.

So now back this traveler already had his ticket to Vancouver and now made his way to the airport and even got to San Fransisco on a cloudy day (so the Golden Gate from the sky would and the city by the bay from the heavens would not be seen on this day but the views later of Washington state and Vancouver as approached from the Ocean would be magnificent) early and was able to catch an earlier flight by sprinting through the airport once his continental flight was done and his United from SF to Vancouver was to begin.  On the flight a lovely couple from Canada on their way back from Florida and the Caribbean made for great company and thought the flight was delayed some wine freebies were given up for it and so the trip proceeded well.

Once in Vancouver he was very happy that he had made it there he was amazed by the massive Indian sculptures there from the Tribes today called the First Nations (including the one that is on the Canadian twenty dollar bill as he would find out later thought this one done by a single artist)

"First Nations" Airport Sculpture

This blogger then made his way furhter throught he airport while stopping to take photos of  the arriving olympic airways and worked   to change his flight to stay longer and then began to find out how to navigate his way down to the Olympics themselves in other words Canada Hockey Place.  So he took the train and switched at the appropriate station and then came out by the entrance to the arena and there he had two hot dogs acquired with the loonies and the toonies which had ben tips for him as a double decker tour guide over the years as well as some given to him by tour guide Traci and tour guide Steve.

Soon somebody said that if I wanted tickets that someone was selling them right over there.  And the price was great sixty dollars for what turned out to have been a $200 dollar face value seat in a luxury box for Sweden versus Germany in the opening round robin.  The luxury box was lovely and even came with pitchers of ice water with lime refilled and refreshing   The game was mostly lackluster and a 2-0 win for the swedes but the colorful crowd of Scandinavians and supporters dressed in blue and yellow was a delight.

At Canada Hockey Place Swedes Face off against the Germans

After This I needed to find the bus station which was right nearby a walk away though I took the Train one stopped and past the provincial pavilions glowing in the dark there I went and bought a bus ticket to Edmonton and a Train Ticket return through The Canadian Rockies on Via Rail.

Meanwhile I had seen brightly lit structures including one which said Sochi world which upon walking back turned out to be the Russian pavilion highlighting the next city to host the winter games Sochi, Russia.

Sochi World Looking FoRward to the next Winter Games

So now I walked back to them bus and rail tickets in hand (or pocket) and found the Russian Pavillion (Sochi World) closed but many Russians in the abound. So now I walked across and went to a bunch of pavilions with time on my hands about four hours including the crowded Quebec building

The Quebec Pavilion

which included an electric house concert

Quebec House Party

and some acrobatic act (beers were about ten dollars and I abstained) next I made it into the Saskatchewan Pavillion but when it cam to posing with a Mountie this blogger balked.  I saw the Canadian hockey Pavillion it was a hundred some odd dollars to eat and drink all day there and this was not what I came to do get fat at a sporting event and also did not put this on my calendar.  meanwhile the line to enter the Ontario pavilion was to long and so I headed for Chinatown.

This was lovely and the thought of the Canadian Western frontier mixed with Chinese design tickled my designs on the exotic inside my mind.  The streetlights with the maple leaves on the red Chinese shade for prosperity especially did it for this blogger.  After passing on a first dining choice I found an astoundingly colorful place

Vancouver Chinatown

where I had some seafood soup and who knows I cannot remember but it was good.  Here this traveler watched more of the early olympics and then headed off for the bus.  The wait for the bus in the mixed train and bus terminal seemed like forever but I was there way before the hour recommended that one should be.  I had taken minimal bags so I was minimal maintenance and passed the time having Coke refills at McDonald’s.

Once on the bus I headed straight back for the twenty four hour ride.  I was in the three seater by the bathroom next to a Mexican man with a seat in between.  I also talked to the man in front of me who also turned out to be Mexican as well so I introduced the two Mexicans who bonded so the first left the adjacent seat to me and joined the other so then I could sleep.

Sleep I did and woke for good early the next morning still in British Columbia but not yet in the high Rockies, though here they came.  These were the most amazing peaks I had seen since the ranges is like the Remarkables on the South Island of New Zealand.  We went through them for most of the day before traveling along the Albertan prairie at night.  At the stopover to change buses  in Calgary there was quite a show as some ridiculous type street-walker kept walking and taking the attention away from the butch security guard set up to check people before getting on the bus.  Then when on the bus to Edmonton for an early morning arrival there was a mildly drunk chatty Indian Canadian chic who had met some guy from the oil services center and she wouldn’t shut up or stop moving around.  When I arrived in Edmonton this blogger went right across the street and checked into the nearest  hotel (across the street), which turned out to be a dive.  The next morning after spending the breakfast voucher plus at A&W back at the bus terminal on multiple hash browns and orange juices I took my stuff and made for the West Edmonton Mall hopefully to stay at the West Edmonton Mall Inn where I had stayed once before in 2003 in hopes of getting a whole big shopping mall novel done.  I got directions left the dive and made it over there to scope out my surroundings and make plans to play horsey later.

I went to the apple store therein and checked email and flight plans had spring rolls at the Vietnamese restaurant on the theme eatery mall road Bourbon street which had moved across the hall from my last visit earlier in the decade and then walked outside and across a main access road to the West Mall inn to find that there rooms were about $200 a night. So I called and called to the Comfort Inn downtown and made a reservation there. Next I returned to the mall to check out the large water slide park.  Then at some point I returned to the apple store and read on wikipedia that Emillio lavazza the head of Lavazza coffee had die and then went to a middle of the mall hallway expresso cafe and had a dopio in his honor (trying to remember all the Italian art fairs and Venetian visits where finishing an Italian  shopping mall poem was to supposed to be to be all about my business).

Meanwhile once  I got tot the hotel in downtown Edmonton this tired traveler began to settle in for the next couple of nights doing yoga by the pool watching the winter olympics on the television, and going to the sauna.  His room looked right out on the great atrium which seemed just out of biosphere with the pool several floors down but tiers of rooms looking out on the space rising. There was a Chinese restaraunt in the lobby named Bird’s Nest of Beijing which I could tell right off the bat just was going to be excellent.  When eventuallyl I returned for lunch on my last day in town this bloogger remembers having the sauteed bok choi and  a spicy Mongolian lamb dish (though the memory of the meal is now  hazy but at the time all of the wonderful food was well explained by the affable and and informative owner maitre d what have you who made the establishment such an unepectedly  charming place).

While in town I took the time to go over to the brand new home of the Art Gallery of Alberta, a geometric freast done by a one time acolyte of Frank Gherys but now creative force of his own, Randall Stout.

The New Art Gallery of Alberta Building by Randall Stout

Here there were exhibits of Goyas , etchings, works by Degas, and a survey of the work of the Candain portrait photographer Yousef Karsh.

Also playing in Edmonton was the dramady I Google myself (which I frequently do) but time had run out for me here. I went over to the chateau like Fairmont hotel at some point for the last time this traveler was in Edmonton he had been given an icy once over there.

The Fairmont, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The next morning it was time to go on VIA rail back through the rockies after a trip on the prarie through to Vancouver.  The train was late inleaving and this writer thought this would reduce the time we had in the national park in Jaspar (but this fear later turned out to be unfounded).  The wait in the depot listening to a coupole carry on about having had their home robbed as they went on and on about all the places they went or were going to.

Meanwhile once on the train Isnared the fared four across seats let my stuff there and as the train was underway made my way for the dining car (while scoping out the bubble domed observation car as well).  Once ther I was seated there for breakfast with a young woman just back form a stint in South Africa who had done a degree in journalism before traveling abroad.  This done I settled in the watch the long haul through the Albertan prarie to the foothills of the rockies and our late day stop for about an hour in Jaspar ( a town which lies inside a national park)-One thing I did to sharpen my skill as we trekked along was to notate all the differnet things we saw as differntiated nouns so as to build up the use of the words to describe things later (and partially erase the  going around and around on the bus which I partially counteract by even citing that experience here).

On the way in once we hit the Rockies Mount Robson, the highest peak in the range

Mount Robson fromthe Observation Train Car on Via Rail

was pointed out and observed by most including moi.  Further along once the national park was entered a large group of big horn sheep was cited and announced and fast enough this blogger snapped a photo of the herd.

 

Big Horned Sheep on the Rocks

So once in Jaspar the town within the park thought told elk would graze by the train depot there were none there upon this day.  I was feeling like a traveler filling up time on the open road and seeing a bread store this blogger went wild and  got two , including the Hawaiin pineapple bread and then there was no need for the overpriced gourmet diner with assigned seating for singles in the dining car.

Meanwhile as time went on this tourist became obsessed even more than he had been with sighting a moose.  This person asked many about other moose sightings and sat and sought out the site of a moose or moose site.  Finally a man who had been studying a detailed map of the area as we coursed along back country rivers said there was a moose see him and I looked and then he said across the river and then he was gone and he inferred that he had heard the train and got up or perhaps now after long reflection and making the joke over and over on my Nyc tours that this is museum mile named that for the abundance of cultural institutions which like to display things otherwise known as museums including the mooseum the moose see him and that comes from this now perhaps there was really a moose and perhaps he was leading me on and laughing to his wife somewhere else- but then later they called everybody over to the freight car where a wildcat caretaker had to lion cubs about seven weeks old in the fold being transported back to his compound and which we were allowed to hold and this beat a moose with a two of cubs.

Lion Cub on Vancouver Bound Via Rail Train

So after this I though the day had been complete and lay across the four seats across and slept.  Upon waking the moutians were sparse and soon we were back in Vancouver and this traveler had the day to spare.   Being that the train station was(is) in the same building as the bus station this blogger decided to go to Whistler which was easily accessed from there and arranged to then metro it to the airport to sleep there in advance of his flight to San Francisco the next day.

So ticket in hand this voyage went back to the provincial pavilion park with the intent of arriving with an hour a spare to go by bus along the famous sea to sky highway to the olympic alpine village of Whistler.

On the bus he met a local biologist who specialized in fish and past Squamish and the beautiful vistas along the road now well traveled. Upon arriving in Whistler he checked out when the medal ceremonies would be investigated the village got in on the media computers and attended to drinking at the Slovenia hospitality suite at the Whistler Westin.

meanwhile much of the enjoyment this writer had inteneded to partak of was to be the high flying dynamics of the luge.  Unfortunately the practice run for the mens single was a scen to tragedy plus this itinerant typer could not leave in tiem to make it there.  Though when in Whistler he was able to sign the condolence book for the Young Georgian slider

Nodar Kumaritashvilli Memorial and Condolence Book

Nodar Kumaritashvilli Condolence Book

Still walking around this blogger passed the injured U.S skier T. J Knight hosting a tv spot and eventually made it to the media center at the Whistler Westin and then went onto to crash the Slovenian Hospitality suite where he  had more than one hearty Eastern European Brew and very nice chicken dinner.  Later he waited on line to get into the medal ceremony , took some picture of mounties

Mountie

, danced sang” tonights gonna be a good a night” with Norwegian revelers

Norwegians

and saw among other the German two man bobsled team

Crowned German and Russian Bobsled Duos

and the Austrian ski jump team receive their medals

Austrian Ski Jumpers Wolfgang Loitzl, Thomas Morgenstern, Gregor Schlierenzauer and Andreas Kofler, receiving their olympic gold medals

.  Nervous about making it back to the last bus to go back to Vanocuver from Whistler to make it to the airport to fly to San Francisco the next morn he left early during the time that the Austrian team took off their snow hats to show off their locks blonde and otherwise to go aslong with their gold medals which look liked warped compact discs and missed the concert by Devo, but, able to convince those on line with him to allow him to hold his space to run up to briefly catch the group on one of the many large video screens.

So the bus ride back was swift having been almost the very first passenger to board and soon i was back at the bus station .  Next I simply walked across to the street to the rapid transit station and mad it back to the airport as the train filled with hordes of Olympic hockey fans coming out of the stadium.  Once at he airport I made a survey of the  Tribal sculptures in the terminal and then mad it over to a Starbucks couch where I slept.

The next morning after ana rdous trip through customs this travler boarded the flight and this time coming into the bay area saw the Golden Gate Bridge and what he thought to be Alcatraz. California here he came, California here he was.

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