Top Ten Literary Cities

I can’t find the original article, but here’s a list of the top ten literary cities in the US from Jessica Burkhart’s (fun!) blog. She got her list from USA Today in the book section of the paper.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Seattle, Washington
St. Paul, Minnesota
Denver, Colorado
Washington, D.C.
St. Louis, Missouri
San Francisco, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Boston, Massachusetts

I’ve found a few great articles on the literariness (is that a word?) of these cities. This article gives ten reasons why Pittsburgh is a “literary star”. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times which talks about how companies like Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon (all based in Seattle) influence what books Americans read. The article describes Seattle as a town that loves books. That’s nice!

So I’m left with just two questions: Where is New York City? And where is Los Angeles? This article offers proof of LA’s literariness, and do we really need proof for NYC?
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Chillin’ in Montauk State Park

The other day I was in Montauk State Park (again), just walking and writing and thinking. Ryan will be meeting me here in a few days and then we’ll be off to Wyoming for Rainbow. And I hate to fast forward like this, but pretty soon I’ll be returning back to the big city—maybe. I mean, I quit my job so I don’t have plans, but the more I try and escape to the woods and mountains, the more I find myself missing my family and friends who, as luck would have it, live in (or near) big cities. So I was happy to come across this article in USA Today called 10 great leafy getaways tucked away in the big city.

So, if you’re a city dweller needing respite from the hustle and bustle around you, try finding solace in these tucked away getaways:

  1. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, California
  2. Teardrop Park, Battery Park City – New York City, along the Hudson River
  3. Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois
  4. Zilker Metropolitan Park – Austin, Texas
  5. Balboa Park – San Diego, California
  6. Boston Common – Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Constitution Gardens – Washington, D.C.
  8. Gas Works Park – Seattle, Washington
  9. Loring Park – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  10. George Washington Memorial Park – Jackson, Wyoming

Why Central Park – NYC is not on the list… I’m not sure. As well as the Boston Public Garden. But it’s still a nice list. Hope it helps you city folk!

Literary travels

There seems to be a new genre of travel that has yet to be discussed in this forum, and that is, literary travels. There’s a book (and blog) called Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West that seems to be getting some attention. Novel Destinations, by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon, is a book for people who share a passion for reading and travel, and the only I can think is, for the millionth time…why didn’t I think of that book idea?! I know I’m only 17, but I think I’m ready to write a book, if only people would stop stealing my ideas…

And so prepare for my version of… ,

Literary Travels with Lacee Low

This week: Literary Travels in New England

1. The Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts – Home of the Alcotts (as in, Louisa May, of Little Women fame).
2. Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord, Massachusetts – Home of Henry David Thoreau and place of inspiration for his (and others’) writings. HDT lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1857.
3. Longfellow National Historic Site, Cambridge, Massachusetts – The home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was originally occupied by General George Washington during the Siege o Boston. Less then 100 years later, Longfellow took a room in the residence now bearing his name.
4. Robert Frost Stone House Museum, South Shaftsbury, Vermont – Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” while he lived here on a hot June morning in 1922.

Stay tuned next time for…The Literary South!
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Romantic New York City, take THREE

Here’s the thing about romance—it doesn’t really matter what you do. It matters who you do it with; and so, really, anything can be romantic if you’re with the right person. That being said, I suppose there are things which, with the right person, are more or less romantic. And I suppose there are things that EVEN if you’re with the wrong person, you can see how it’s possible that it COULD be romantic. (Jesus, there I go again.)

Meanwhile, I’ve FINALLY moved into my apartment in Spanish Harlem which is pretty sweet (I mean, considering the fact that my room is the size of an ice box and it’s got fake walls) and I started my temp stint as a paralegal. They’ve been working me pretty hard, (like sometimes til midnight—is that allowed?), but I’ve still found time to explore the great New York, New York.

More romantic ideas:

6. Orchard Beach, in Bronx, NY, is the only beach in the Bronx, located on the Long Island Sound, comes complete with volleyball courts, a boardwalk, and a band shell. Just so happens that the NY Times just came out with an article about Orchard Beach memories—Orchard Beach Journal; Slice of the Riviera, With a Familiar Bronx Twist.
7. Orient Beach State Park, in Orient, NY, is on Gardiner’s Bay where you can go swimming, fishing and kayaking. Nearby there’s hiking and biking along forest trails. It’s a few hours from New York City, but makes for a fantastic day trip.
8. American Museum of Natural History, in New York, NY, is one of my most favorite places on Earth. I love all the animal exhibits. Right now they have an exhibit on horses which is just breathtaking.
9. Hayden Planetarium – while you’re at the American Museum of Natural History, make sure you experience some romance under the stars at the Hayden Planetarium. I think this is one of those things where even if you’re not with the right person, you can sense the romance in the air. Beautiful shows.

Ok, gotta get some sleep. I hope you get a chance to experience romantic New York City!
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Portland: maybe I’ll relocate?

Would you believe it? I’m already in Portland…and loving it! So much time as past and all of it has been spectacular.

It’s hard to explain what I experienced at Red Rock Canyon. It was…mystical. There’s just something about the way the sun feels as it burns through my clothing. And I simply cannot explain the effect of the strong sun’s rays inexplicably tearing the clouds apart. But mostly, it’s the colors: the reds and browns against the blue of the sky is breathtaking and magical. I will definitely return to Red Rock Canyon. (And all this is coming from someone who lives just a few hours from Red Rock State Park in Sedona.)

My drive up to Oregon was beautiful and uneventful (just the way I like it). A few days ago I went museum hopping, to the Portland Museum of Art to the Portland Art Museum (both great) and then to the Portland Japanese Garden. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting Robert at his house for coffee and breakfast before his grand tour of Smith Rock State Park, where he promises I’ll be impressed.

Today I’m just hanging around my hotel and the neighborhood. I’ve treated myself to a stay in Avalon Hotel & Spa which is lovely. And I spent all afternoon in Washington Park, where I will certainly return between now and the end of the week.

I love it here. I feel relaxed and independent and happy. Check, check, check—goals reached!
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Rescued by some Moabites

I can’t even count the number of National Parks I’ve been in since I started my journey, the number of nights I’ve unzipped my tent and pulled my sleeping bag out so I could sleep under the starry night, the number of amazing people I’ve met who have taken me in for a night or shared some food or a shower (I mean, let me use their shower…we didn’t actually share…). And it’s on this last point (the people, not the shower) that I want to talk about now.

My most recent stop was at Canyonlands National Park which was beautiful. I hiked around for a few days and was just getting more and more tired by the second. I definitely should have stopped when I started feeling this way and should have headed right back to civilization. But I didn’t because I’m a trooper and I wasn’t going to let tiredness get the best of me. But then I must’ve passed out or something, because I woke up in the back of a pick up truck. There was another guy back there with me (his wife was driving) who told me that I was found outside my tent at the campground, unconscious. The guy suspected that I was dehydrated and they were bringing me to a hospital in Moab for an IV. Which they did, before bringing me to their tiny little home in Moab, right near Arches National Park for the night.

Let me just say: I am not a religious guy. I believe that there are some higher powers (maybe God), and I went to Sunday School when I was kid even though my parents were atheists. I have never thought much about Christianity or about Christian goodness, but these last few days, I have experienced it first hand.

Bob and Risa Berry and their 5 children took me into their home for three days, and it seemed as though this was something they were used to—taking in stragglers who they’ve found half dead in the parks. Two kids cleared out their room and moved in with the other 3 kids during that time and I got a room and access to a kitchen and bookcases filled with books until I recovered, from what was nothing more serious than exhaustion. Every night I had dinner with the Berrys and then the family sang hymns before bedtime that I was invited to as well. I felt like I was in a Christian children’s bible storyland.

I became particularly close with a nine year old boy, Johnny, who showed me all his secret hideouts on their vast woodland property and a treehouse that he and his 2 older brothers had built by themselves.

One day I went with Risa to the Dan O’Laurie Museum which helped me get a better understanding of the Moab region, which is known as a mountain biker’s paradise. So another day I actually went on a beautiful tour of the area with Bob on two of their bikes (does anyone work in Moab??).

And now I feel as strong as an ox. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to rent a car (even though gas will cost me my food for the next week). Apparently there are some scenic drives along the Colorado River that’ll bring me to Colorado. Probably just rent for the day and then get back on my own two feet!

Tim Groome is back!

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Alone on the road: South Dakota to Missouri

It’s been a long time…
Ryan flew back to Boston last week for his training and left me with the car and I drove by myself from Custer State Park to my sister’s house in Missouri, which was about 1000 miles. I did stop for a day in Omaha to visit my friend Tiffany who’s been begging me to come visit for years. And now I’m finally at Juliette’s!

Juliette is my sister and I love her so so so much and I’m so happy to be here! We’re 11 months apart and grew up as best friends, but over the last few years since she’s moved to Salem, I’ve barely seen her. She had a bit of a fight with our parents so doesn’t like to come back east so often…loooong story.

Anyways, she’s an artist and a musician and just keeps picking up new instruments and skills. I got the book smarts and she got the arts smarts (well, she really got both). What can you do?

I’ll be here for a few weeks until I head out to Wyoming for the Rainbow Gathering so have really just been taking it easy. She took me to Montauk State Park which is practically in her back yard and since Mark Twain National Forest is so close, we’ll probably be spending some time there as well.

Juliette just made me blackberry tea and we’re going to go sit out on the porch. laters!
(Ryan I miss you!)
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Romantic New York City, part II

I figure I should start with this: New York is a romantic city. And I’m not just talking about the Marriott Marquis and the Empire State Building. Here are some more creative, romantic ideas:

  1. Besides for the above, I recommend taking the MTA #7 Train. It travels out of Manhattan and through Queens through different ethnic neighborhoods. Go hungry and get on and off the train, sampling different cuisines as you go. It’s a fun, romantic excursion, giving you a chance to spend quality time together as well as distractions around you (if you need to fall back on them during your date).
  2. The Chelsea Market is another unique date place, and with the smells of fresh baked cookies and gourmet foods all around, you’ll never want to leave. The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) was established in this area in the 1890s and the Oreo cookie factory is now a block-sized market with food, flowers, art, and shows. We went the other day and sampled some delicious samosas and had fresh squeezed OJ. yum yum.
  3. Another unique hot spot is the Jazz Museum in Harlem. There’s something about Jazz history that I find romantic. The Harlem Renaissance, Duke Ellington, African American culture—I find it all beautiful. And Matthew’s grandfather played with Willie Smith and Matthew grew up in the Afro American music scene, so he’s particularly passionate about this museum and the whole subject in general.
  4. Coney Island Boardwalk, Brighton Beach, and the New York Aquarium. Matthew planned those other days, but this one was on me. My dad grew up in Brooklyn so I know these places by heart. We spent the whole day (a Sunday, since believe it or not, Matthew actually works) walking around, eating cotton candy, and relaxing on the beach.
  5. Top of the Rock – Rockefeller Center Observation Deck. Ok, so maybe it’s just as cheesy as the Empire State Building, but it’s a little more unique. Also, once you’re in Rockefeller Center you can also do the NBC Studio Tour. (Go 30Rock!) Put all those things together and you’ve got yourself a romantic outing!

So there you have it. I can be happy and in love and I can give practical advice! Who would’ve thought!

P.S. For a great list of free things going on in NYC, check this out


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Maybe Vegas isn’t for everyone…

Well, I’m not so sure Las Vegas is for me. I played some slot machines and even tried my luck at Texas Holdem. And you know what? I came out ahead! I wasn’t interested in spending too much money gambling, so I set aside $200, and walked out with $230! While that was fun, and while it does seem like I’ve got a knack for getting down and dirty in the game rooms…I just felt a little out of place. First of all, I don’t drink (at least not more than the occasional glass of wine), and there were so many young people there drinking and drinking and just throwing away their money—I got a little uncomfortable. My mother instinct came through full blown and I had to hold myself back from taking drinks out of hands and putting money back into pockets. The other thing that saddened me was the fact that you can tell who has the serious gambling problems. There are some older folks (my age and older) who look like they haven’t showered in weeks and you just have to wonder how much in their lives they’ve thrown away that got them to this point, where they spend night and day and night and day in a casino. And then I was standing at a Roulette table and some guy got a lucky spin and turned around and kissed me flat on the mouth before I had a chance to protest! Is that what people do in real life? I found it offensive and strange.

I’ve spent most of my time walking up and down The Strip, and that really has been the highlight of Las Vegas. I enjoy peace and quiet and national parks, but I’m a city girl at heart; I always have been. And the lights and the bustle and the diversity of people thrill me to no end. Vegas is so different from anywhere I’ve ever been, and that was exciting. But I kept thinking of the streaked limestone at Valley of Fire State Park, and now I’m aching for more of a natural setting. Maybe even though I love cities, I feel as though this trip is intended to relax me and center me after my divorce. Perhaps deep down I believe that the natural balance around me will kick in and force-balance me, though I suppose that’s probably not the right attitude.

And do I’m ready for the next phase of my trip, for the quiet and the solitude. I’m looking forward to Red Rock Canyon and then the long drive through Nevada and then California and then Oregon, up to Portland. I don’t have specific plans at this point. Will take my time driving up there, will stay at some cheap motels along the way.

Oh, by the way, is it possible to become addicted to massages?? I’m already ready for my next one!

Martha


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Attack of the falling veils!

I swear to god I was looking up the Bridal Veil Falls and not playing out some sort of childhood wedding fantasy…and I came across the fact that Bridal Veil Falls is a really unoriginal name for waterfalls in America, as there are quite a few. The one I was looking at is in Nantahala National Forest which is not as close to school as I thought it was. So I got distracted and read about all the Bridal Veil Falls in the country…oh, procrastination!

The most famous Bridal Veils are at Niagara Falls. It’s the smallest of the three major falls, but still looks beautiful (never been, but looking at gorgeous pictures). The Cave of the Winds tour (not really a cave) brings you 20 feet away from Bridal Veil Falls. I want to go!!!

There’s the Bridal Veil Falls State Park on the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway in Oregon. I’ve actually been to the Columbia River Gorge, like when I was 6, my mom took me to visit a college friend of hers. So there are pictures of me in front of some waterfall, but don’t know which one, and neither does my mom.

Utah has it’s own Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon (called bridal veil park).

There are Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park.

I thought maybe I was being really ditzy and that maybe Bridal Veil Falls is like a specific type of falls, I dunno something to do with rock formation or atmospheric something or other. but they’re just pretty falls that look like a veil.

Wikipedia has a huge list. Here is a sampling:

I dunno. Maybe that’ll be of some use to someone. Ok, gotta do my hoooooooooomeeeeewooooork! Stop distracting me!


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