Chinatown Bus

Chinatown Bus

I first heard of the Chinatown bus years ago I was intrigued, but had no idea how to find out more about it. The name conjured images of people traveling with caged chickens and goats. I knew that wasn’t true, but the price– under $100– was certainly attractive.

In December I saw this poster in the window of a Chinese restaurant on Buford Highway in Atlanta. It lists the website and phone numbers and the price– just $60 from New York to Atlanta or from Atlanta to New York– and the name, I now realize, is not Chinatown bus, but W&G Bus.

Read More

Views from Little Switzerland

2014-09, Blue Ridge Parkway 054, Crop

When I was a child, my mother took the family for a drive on the mountain roads near our then home in Asheville, North Carolina. When we passed a ramshackle inn perched on the edge of an escarpment, I instantly fell in love with it.

Alpine Inn, Crop

I’ve always wanted to stay there, but never managed, even though I’ve been in the vicinity hundreds of times. I think the reason was mostly because I didn’t remember the inn’s name, but perhaps also I wanted to wait and savor the moment when I finally visited.

Last week I cruised the length of the 450-mile-long Blue Ridge Parkway, which passes through Little Switzerland. In this age of the internet it was easy to find an image of the inn I remembered and determine its name.

I timed my trip to put me in Little Switzerland at about 4:30 pm, and arrived as planned. Traffic was light on the Parkway (it will be bumper-to-bumper a month from now, when the leaves have changed color), so I expected there to be a room available. I wasn’t disappointed. I got a room– musty-smelling, but clean– for only $60.

Read More

Back to the Catskills

2014-05-03, Catskills 041

Today we drove past hundreds of abandoned resorts in various states of disrepair.

I’ve left the photos I took in (very) large format. You can examine the image above and some others
in great detail by clicking on them. A new tab will open, so you won’t lose your place here.

This was to be our weekend of leisure: sleeping late, french toast for breakfast, lying in bed watching movies, naps, reading, more of same. So naturally, as soon as Heather awoke this morning, she was after me to pull on my shoes on so we could leave for the Catskills.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Woodstock. We told one another we would be returning one day; we just didn’t realize it would be so soon.

Read More

My Vicarious New Car Buyer’s Experience: III: Enjoying Heather’s Car— Or, By the Time We Got to Woodstock…

My Vicarious New Car Buyer’s Experience: III: Enjoying Heather’s Car— Or, By the Time We Got to Woodstock…

On Saturday, Heather dropped the dime. Frustrated by game-playing by car dealers, anxious about getting in over her head, and experiencing hybrid anxiety every time she thought of going cheaper and getting a gas-powered car, she came to her decision and left with a 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid with a lustrous pearl white finish.

Hybrid Sign Crop

We’ve been getting 47 mpg on the highway and a little better than 50 mpg in town. This is a car that actually exceeds its advertised gas mileage!

The Accord is beautiful, has plenty of torque, and is more complicated than an F-15 Strike Eagle. It’s at least as much mobile computer as automobile. The owner’s manual is hundreds of pages long and it’ll be months before we figure everything out.

We’re getting used to the keyless entry and push-button start. We’re getting hooked on the right lane view and backup cameras. We’re enjoying playing music and audiobooks and making hands-free phone calls over Bluetooth. And best of all, we’re enjoying the high gas mileage.

2014-04-19, Heather's New 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid  003

Heather’s Accord on the lot at the Honda dealer, just before we drove it home.

We slept late on Sunday (because we were wiped out from a week of car shopping) and drove up the freeway to Woodstock, New York. Were there hippies there still, we wondered?

When we hit the town center, our questions were answered. Forty or more mostly older men sat in a circle, banging on drums.

2014-04-20, By the Tme We Got to Woodstock, It Was Two Thousand Fourteen  022

There were dancing groupies:

2014-04-20, By the Tme We Got to Woodstock, It Was Two Thousand Fourteen  017, Crop

There was even a bicycle dude.

Bicycle Dude

“Score!” Heather said.

Woodstock is a picturesque little village in the Catskills, about 100 miles from New York City. Today it looks like this:

Read More

Trips into New York City

Trips into New York City

From my girlfriend Heather’s house in Rockland County, NY I can travel to Manhattan quickly and easily. Seniors pay half price. I, who Heather has called a hippie with a pension, quality for that rate. For less than ten dollars I can ride either train or a nicely-appointed Greyhound-style bus to, respectively, Penn Station or the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

I’ve been to the city at least a dozen times in recent years, sometimes alone, sometimes with Heather, and sometimes with my friend Jan Brown. I’ve seen two Broadway shows (revivals of Hair (five stars) and West Side Story (two stars), and two off-Broadway plays (Cole Porter’s Mexican Hayride; four stars) and, today, Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser’s Under My Skin. I’ve spent a day each in four museums (The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, The American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art), hung out at Zucotti Park in the Financial District with the Occupy Wall Street folks, taken a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park under a big warm blanket with Heather, visited the Apple Store and the F.A.O. Scharz toy store on the Upper West Side, viewed an exhibition at The International Center of Photography, heard a presentation at the LGBT Community Center of New York, and attended a reception for authors of the forthcoming book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. I’ve walked through Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park, Greenwich Village, Times Square, the meat packing district, the theater district, and the financial district. I’ve eaten $1.50 slices at hole-in-the-wall pizzarias and fine food at a half-dozen restaurants. I’ve learned a lot about the city and how to get around (often the hard way). It has all been fun.

I suppose I really am a hippie with a pension.

Hair

Hair on Broadway, 2009

Read More

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!

In August 2011 a young Irishman named Sean Dillon shipped his 25-year-old 75-lb. Honda C90 Super Cub motorcycle from Dublin to Anchorage, Alaska. His goal: to ride his tiny 90cc bike from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of South America.

Read More