Three quiet October days in Telluride. The place holds a special place in my heart.
I first visited Telluride on a media trip in 1999, just a couple of weeks after my Grandmother passed away. I was tired. My heart hurt from crying. And I ached to see her again, to talk to her some more…just a little more. While the rest of the group skied, I spent time in solitude…staring at the mountains. And in those moments, I found a peace that comforts me to this day.
So, when I realized that I’d be within a 6 hour drive of Telluride just a few days before my birthday, I decided to return.
The “6 hour drive” from Santa Fe turned into an 8 hour drive because I stopped so many times to admire the wide open spaces and the long winding roads through the pueblos and reservations of New Mexico .
I arrived in Mountain Village just before dark, threw my stuff in the room, and took the first of about a dozen gondola rides up and over the mountain into beautiful little Telluride.
I would spend only 3 nights there–waiting for the sun to rise and set on the mountain top, soaking up the sun on the streets of Telluride or my sweet little balcony, walking the side streets and trails with my camera, looking for the even numbered magpies, sketching and writing in the coffee shops, and savoring a little time in the spa. Good days.
On my birthday, I was on the first gondola to the mountain top. I walked across the ridge waiting for the sunrise, my boots crunching the frosted grass. Three elk stopped about 50 feet in front of me. I could see their breath clouds. After a silent few minutes of mutual acknowledgement, they returned to grazing and I to walking. I heard their antlers tapping together a few minutes later and turned to see two of them playing like puppies on the mountain side. Just after sunrise, I called my mother and father from the mountain top. I talked to several friends that day, had a massage, enjoyed some home-made ice cream and had a perfect little day. And as I went back over the mountain the final time that evening in the quiet dark of my own gondola, I whispered a few things to my precious grandmother.
I drove out of Telluride in the still pitch black morning…at one point a family of deer ran on the windy road alongside my car. Ah, Telluride…I’ll be back!
I’m am woefully behind in posting some of the things I’ve been working on these past six weeks. But I can’t be too sorry as it has been an extraordinary time filled with little journeys. Two weeks ago today, I returned from my first visit to my 32nd state, Washington. Things that impressed me?
The low, dense fog that covered the city when we landed. I thought it was a cloud. But upon clearing it, we were seconds from the runway.
The neon in the Public Market!
The gum wall in an artsy/gummy alley. How exactly does this kind of thing get started and “go viral”?
The Starbucks mother-ship…for my coffee-like blood, this was like mecca! Put this coffee with one of the chocolate croissants from Le Panier and a potato and cheese pastry from Piroshky Piroshky Bakery, and a bite of fresh made cheese from Beecher’s…and well, I could have stayed there all day.
The bar called Canon. Beautiful. Extraordinary light and atmosphere.
And last but not least? Where was that mountain?! The fog was thick for 3 days. I told friends that the only way I could possibly see that mountain was if I was standing on it. On the flight back home…I thought I had missed it, had sat on the wrong side of the plane…but lucky me! The plane did a U-turn and as soon as the wings leveled off…there it was! Mt. Rainier…massive, majestic!
Sailing Lake Michigan on the tall ship, The HMS Bounty – August 2010
Lately, we’ve been a little obsessed with tall ships–the beauty of the sails and the awe of the masts’ heights. So, we booked passage on a tall ship as it made it’s way to Chicago for the Tall Ships Parade and festival. Our ship was the HMS Bounty. The Bounty was built in the 60s for “Mutiny on the Bounty”. It also had a part in the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”.
Getting to the HMS Bounty
Our journey began on Sunday, August 22, 2010. We loaded up the backpacks and took the el into the loop, walking over to Union Station. We had tickets on Amtrak’s Hiawatha Express to Milwaukee. The Bounty was currently in Port Washington, WI and we were to meet her there.
We had to stop first to see the Great Hall at Union Station, famous to us from the scene in the Untouchables where Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia get Capone’s accountant and save the baby in the carriage during the shoot out. Such a Great Hall it is too. I wish the days of train travel were still just as cool as that Hall reminds us.
$22 one way/each. And packed to the gills on this Sunday afternoon. The ride was only an hour and a half, past the rail yards and the loop, into the suburbs, and with just a glimpse of the midwestern prairie before reentering Milwaukee’s suburbs.
Next step was to find transportation to Port Washington. Bryan negotiated $50 for a cab to take us there…only about 30 miles north. Arrived at the quaint little town on a crisp, sunny day around 3:30 in the afternoon. Stopped for a drink and a bite at a pub sitting just above the little festival. And there they were…the masts of the Tall Ships sticking up above everything else in the harbor.
On board the HMS Bounty:
We boarded, met some of the crew and got the introduction to life on board the Bounty. The crew works 2 shifts per day…broken into 4 hour increments. 12-4, 4-8 and 8-12. AM or PM, doesn’t matter, you work 12a-4a and again noon-4pm. We got the 8-12 shifts, though not required to do them seeing as how we’d paid $125/night per person and brought our own bedding to be aboard.
The captain began prepping for departure in the morning on Monday, 8/23. He started by quizzing the crew on “how would we sail out of here…no motor?” We were docked between 2 other ships and the wind was light, but in the wrong direction vs what we needed. Lots of debate and discussion about the location of the anchor, the direction of the sails, and the ruddering to avoid the dock, the other ships and squeezing through the breakers.
Anchor up and sails down around noon as we pulled out of the harbor. The crew climbed the ropes and unfurled the sails from high above deck. “Ease Out and Haul Away!” “Two. Six. Two. Six.” “Don’t give any back.”
Miles and miles of rope, reaching up to the sails and wrapped around pegs on deck. There’s a special way to coil the ropes so that they are “belayed”–neatly stowed, but ready to go. I heard terms like mizen, bosun (the boatswain, responsible for the rigging), mainsail (said man-sail). I watched people tie-off knots and climb like monkeys up the rigging and then stand like tight-rope artists on a rope while folding and unfolding sails.
And holy cow…what a gorgeous sight when those buttery yellow sails came down and caught the wind! The sheer height of them stretching into the blue sky and catching the sun behind them so that only rays peered around. They covered the ship in shade. Life got quiet once we sailed. Work began on tarring the ropes and finishing a yard.
I sat in the sun–staring up at the sails and snapping away. Bryan got harnessed up and climbed the ropes into the crow’s nest. A long peaceful day of sailing–quiet, breezey, and a warming sun.
Golden Hour was about the best ever. The golden orange on the wooden deck floors, the passing colors over the parchment and butter sails. The moon rising in a baby blue sky. A Maxfield Parrish sky as the green sailing lights were lit beneath the sails. The white of the sails against the darkening blue sky as the crew climbed up to lower the royals for the night. Magic. Just magic.
That evening, we took a juice with our flask of rum and had a nip. And slept like babies with the gentle rocking of the boat, with the rum and the day of sun easing us to sleep.
I should mention Dina and the galley. This woman cooks 3 meals a day in a galley where everything moves. She made bacon, waffles, eggs, roast pork, etc. over the 2 days we were there. Delicious food. Everyone washes their own plates. Those on duty pass the line and someone else washes for them. Coffee is always available.
I awoke before dawn. Dark and cold on deck. Red, safety lights lighting the galley and the navigation shed on deck. It was a cloudy morning, trying to spit some rain. Fortunately for us, it never mustered the strength and the day turned into another sunny, cooler day.
Today, we watched as the crew hung the yard on the stern mast. A process that took over an hour, with 3 crew members up in the rigging.
As we entered the Chicago area around 1:30, we could see Evanston, and then the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. The crew was getting excited…some of them had never been to a city this size before.
Arrival in Chicago and the Tall Ship Parade:
Small boats approached us–“Welcome!” they’d shout and snap some pictures of the giant Bounty. As we entered the Chicago area proper, more tall ships arrived too…as did more small sailing boats and motor boats and coast guard and police and fire boats. Everyone who had a boat appeared to be in the area between 2-5p as the tall ships arrived. We tooled around waiting for all the tall ships to arrive so we could line up for the 4 p.m. Parade into Navy Pier.
A gilligan boat brought 3 “media” guys to the Bounty to do stories. They had trouble getting close enough to climb up and over. But finally made it. One guy came with a 1960 National Geographic and asked about the original nail from the original Bounty that was supposed to be on ship somewhere. Jesse calmly and without drama told the guy that the nail was in the scrapyard. Broke his heart, that did.
It was crazy crowded in the water. The Coast Guard and Police boats had megaphones and kept announcing “PLEASE STAY 100 YARDS AWAY FROM THE TALL SHIPS”. Still, some sailboats passed dangerously close–perhaps not realizing that we could not turn or stop quickly enough to avoid hitting them if something happened. It’s amazing how many boats were around us–and how many of them I snapped taking pictures of us.
Around 4, we began lining up. Our Bounty was the finale, behind the Flagship Niagra. We sailed into the breakers and past a crowded Navy Pier. Ships firing whatever “cannons” they had on board in a salute to Chicago. And the Chicago Fire Department boat giving us a water cannon salute as we turned and headed back out of the breakers to drop sails. Really proud moments…the city looked beautiful, the ships were amazing and seeing this all from the deck of the best ship of them all was too much!
We motored around while the sails were furled, and then we entered the breakers again as the sun was going down, and made our way over to our dock on the North side of Navy Pier. I heard the Navy Pier dock crew ask over the radio if we needed a guiding boat to dock. The Bounty captain politely declined. As did Niagra. We motored past the lighthouse as the light turned it pink.
Again, people welcomed us and clapped from the dock. The crew threw ropes over so the little navy kids could catch them and tie us off. The docking process took maybe 20-30 minutes as we eased into the space and tied off. Bryan exited quickly…he was already nearly 2 hours late for work. I left about 30 minutes later. I turned in the near dark to take one last photo of the Bounty resting at dock.
POSTSCRIPT 10/30/12: She sails no more. Strike the Bell slowly….
On 25 October 2012, to avoid Hurricane Sandy, the Bounty left New London, Connecticut, heading for St. Petersburg, Florida. “A ship is safer at sea,” wrote Captain Robin Walbridge. Initially the Bounty was going on an easterly course to avoid Hurricane Sandy. Later, the ship would turn towards the category II hurricane, which was not turning towards land as had been expected. According to crew, The Bounty was motor sailing—using engines and sails. “We were moving as fast as I’ve ever seen the boat move under power,” said shipmate Faunt. “We worked those engines hard.” Waves grew to 20 feet, wind was gusting at 70 mph and it took two people to hold the wheel.
The initial request for Coast Guard assistance was sent in an email by the captain to the vessel’s organization. At about 8:45 p.m. EDT on 10/28, the organization relayed the request to the Coast Guard about Bounty’s situation. The ship was taking on water, had lost electrical power due to water flooding the starboard generator, and the crew was preparing to abandon ship. Some of the 16 people on board had been injured from being thrown about by the crashing waves.
The C-130 rescue plane had equipment outages on its rescue flight, including its anti-icing system and its weather radar, and because of the turbulence caused by the Hurricane, the crew was sick. Because of the poor visibility conditions, the pilots conducted the search at approximately 500 feet in an attempt to locate the vessel visually. Shortly after midnight on 29 October, the Bounty was discovered. “I see a giant pirate ship in the middle of a hurricane.”
Bounty was listing at about a 45 degree angle on its starboard side. The plane dropped life-rafts but had to leave the vessel and crew on their own in rough seas and 58 mph winds because they ran low on fuel. It would be more than an hour until the first Jayhawk helicopter arrived to begin the dangerous rescue attempt around dawn. The storm had washed the captain and two crew overboard—one of the latter had made it to a life-raft, but the other two were missing. Claudene Christian, one of the two missing crew members and who claimed to be related to HMS Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian, was found by the Coast Guard. She was unresponsive, and later pronounced dead at a hospital. The other missing crew member was long-time captain, Robin Walbridge.
A formal investigation into the sinking concluded that Captain Walbridge’s decision to sail the ship into the path of Hurricane Sandy was the cause, a “reckless decision”. The ship had persistent problems with leakage, “bondo Bounty” some would say. But the ship was considered to be “in the best shape of her life” in October 2012. Walbridge had tempted fate before. In each instance, some combination of bravado, skill, and luck had returned the ship home safely.
Got here safely yesterday afternoon and hit the beach for about an hour. Killer daiquri, great dinner and early to bed.
So, what do we say about Miami Beach? Small dogs with sequined sweaters. Thongs–Thankfully NOT on dogs. Hummers. Too many air conditioners. Nothing–not even the Starbucks–opens before 7 a.m. Well, we did find one Starbucks open at 6:30…a white rooster (on a bike) outside cock-a-doodle-doo’d for us too.
On the beach this morning at 8 a.m. Breezy, sunny, high 70s. Think we got a little sun.
Wasting time in a Starbucks in trendy Miami Beach…a few blocks from our Hotel Marseilles. Sad to be so jaded…but it’s “just” Florida–we are so anxious for the Antarctic. 😉
Got to be at the airport soon for an overnight flight to Santiago.
That should be fun. 8 hour 20 minute flight. And Bryan’s already restless–getting up to wander 3 times in just 3 hours on the beach. Atlantic Ocean today, crossing the Equator tonight and will see the Pacific Ocean tomorrow. Cool. Thanks to you all for your nice notes!
Puerto Rico! I only had 1.5 days there for a meeting (February 6-8, 2007). But no complaining about that! It was 80 degrees and sunny (vs. 10 and snowing back in Chicago!) I got about two hours to roam and take photos. Somehow, I lost the very first Blackberry I ever had. I’d had it for less than 5 weeks. Oy!
I wandered around admiring the colors, and the dark, inky-black brick streets.
I stumbled around snapping picture-after-picture of all the buildings. Like crayons in a box, so many colors–bright or faded, some roofless, some with ferns gracing the balconies, some with comforting yet exotic lights on inside. And then I saw the reflection of the church in a window.
Found a pigeon park…I’ve never seen so many pigeons in one place. Cooing. Walking, Watching. Waiting. They parted slightly to allow you to walk through their masses. If you bought food from the vendor, you were mobbed!
Old San Juan during the golden hour right before twilight is simply amazing. Great old buildings with fantastic colors. I was dumbstuck by the colors and the light. And it smelled like somebody was cooking something good right around the corner…
Five hours in Memphis, Tennessee on Friday, April 28, 2006
This quick trip was designed around 3 things: the Maxfield Parrish exhibit at the Brooks Museum, Sun Studios and BBQ ribs.
We left Nashville around 8 a.m. on a Friday and pulled into Memphis a clean 3 hours later. First stop, the Brooks Museum to see the Maxfield Parrish exhibit.
Maxfield Parrish’s work is a wonder of colors and details. It’s full, dreamy, magical. Blues of every nuance…and that’s just the mass produced prints. Standing in front of the actual 1922 Daybreak oil on panel was like looking into a window of heaven. Blue, violet, periwinkle, cerulean, lavender, mauve and the light. It was as stunning 10 feet away as it was with my nose nearly pressed against the glass.
Some things I learned: Parrish never mixed colors, he instead painted in layers–60+ sometimes–layering in gouache, glaze and more color. He photographed friends and family in the poses and then sketched them onto his paintings to get the details. And he kept rocks in his studio to “model” for the backgrounds. He was a perfectionist with an eye for light, color and nature–and a keen sense of humor. He aspired to be considered more a fine art creator versus being the illustrator.
Next stop was Sun Studios: recording home to Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash during the 1950s. The studio tour starts with a memorabilia tour next door. They have early recording equipment, scratchy recordings of Howlin Wolf, Elvis, Johnny Cash and more. Plus, they have Elvis’ social security card and high school diploma (on loan from Graceland), and some pre Ed Sullivan video of Elvis’ hip shaking. Back downstairs, you enter the Sun Studio reception room from the side. The studio itself is behind the reception room. It’s much smaller than I’d imagined. But not so difficult to imagine a young Elvis coming in one afternoon to record a song for his mother. The very intuitive receptionist, running the studio solo that afternoon, smartly made a copy of Elvis’ first recording for her boss Sam Phillips. It’s the stuff of legends! Old microphones, pianos, photos, and guitars line the walls. And it is still a recording studio…for $75/hour, you too can record at Sun!
Next stop, Blues City Cafe on Beale St. for ribs. A no-nonsense kind of place with huge portions. The full rack of ribs was moderately priced and some of the meatiest ribs we’ve ever seen.
We walked down a few blocks to pay our respects to the mighty Mississippi River and then headed east on I-40 back to Nashville. Wishing we could have spent the night on Beale St…they were gearing up for that music in the streets. Next time…
For Bryan’s birthday, we went to Washington DC. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in Dupont Circle and spent a lot of time riding the subway and walking around to absorb the place.
From the Washington Monument lawn, we saw the President’s helicopter land on the White House lawn…escorted by a few other helicopters and with several sharpshooters positioned around the rooftops.
The Lincoln Memorial…he’s got a great view.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: subtle story in the escalation of the wall’s height as it digs into the earth. The names are in chronological order by date of death. Stunning volume of names.
The U.S. Capital: We contacted our congressman for an escorted tour, and it saved buckets of time. We tried whispering in the whispering spot in the old Senate chamber. The House of Representatives chamber is smaller than it looks on TV. But we got to sit in the upstairs galley, like the President’s family! And we learned that on CSPAN, when you see someone up at the podium speaking, he/she may or may not actually have an audience in the room…Speaking on camera there is a way to go on record, but it doesn’t mean they got to call a meeting!
The Supreme Court: nine chairs facing the door. And next door to the Library of Congress.
The museums: In the darkened Archives museum we saw The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, one of the last surviving Magna Cartas, and Nixon’s resignation letter.
Other museums: a room full of shoes from the Holocaust victims, Lincoln’s assassination night clothes and the gun that killed him locked into the same display case, the 1812 flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner stretched out for some TLC, the Spirit of St. Louis plane dangled from a ceiling, a moon rock waiting to be petted, Dorothy’s Ruby Red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Jackie’s pearls, Fonzie’s jacket, Archie and Edith’s chairs…it is a treasure trove of history, of culture, of inspiring things and of events we ought never see again. Light a candle in the Hall of Remembrance.
Washington National Cathedral: We tried to identify the flags as we walked the two miles up Embassy Row. At the Cathedral, we heard the peal bells but not the 10,000+ pipe organ. The church welcomes all–the Dalai Lama has spoken here, and Buddhist prayer beads and Jewish menorahs are sold in the gift shop. I didn’t see Islamic items–but I’m sure they are there! Helen Keller is interred in the lower level.
Georgetown’s Bistro Francias has great ambiance and tasty food. The New Orleans place in Adams Morgan is good for gumbo. Ethiopian restaurants abound. We could have stayed a month and not seen it all. One day we’ll go back…or move here!