Beautiful place, Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City: a really nice urban park with magnificent views. The early Mormons tried to raise and process sugar beets here, which didn’t work too well, and the sugar factory became a prison. It had to have had as much sorrow and anger as any other prison, and on at least one occasion it was the site of a gross miscarriage of justice – when Joe Hill was executed for murder as likely retaliation for his labor organizing activities. Now the former prison ground has trees and ducklings and kids on bikes and couples picnicking on the grass. A stream runs through it that’s cold on the hottest days, because it’s snowmelt. Places can be redeemed.
My car developed small round blurs in the middle of the front windshield – visible and annoying only when the sun angle was low. After being puzzled for a while I remembered that I’d driven up to Dallas and met my friend Kristin at DFW and after we navigated through Dallas and returned to Houston, she borrowed my car to go around town; and she has a portable GPS. And it has a little suction cup to attach its antenna to the windshield. Aha. This was like when you park your car and come back to see by the paw prints that a cat has strolled up the windshield, except these were in the inside: GPS paw prints.
One interesting sight on the Mt. Vernon Trail in Arlington, Virginia last week was where a branch of the trail went under a roadway beside a tributary of the Potomac River. There were a couple of young guys with fishing poles doing the fishing thing. That’s always rather nice to see in an urban area. What they were fishing for turned out to be feral koi that could be seen finning around in the murky shallows. Some of these giant goldfish were more than a foot long in all their orange, black and white glory. Happily the guys were doing catch-and-release on the koi.
Staying in the Washington, DC area for a week can a fascinating experience. I went to help a friend in Arlington while she recovered from surgery. Part of the recovery was walking – always good and good for a body! – and there’s this amazing Mount Vernon Trail that flanks the Potomac River for miles. It’s a hike-and-bike trail. People bicycle a lot in our nation’s capitol and its outlying areas. There’s even a bikeshare program where members can grab a bike at any conveniently located dock, ride to work or wherever and deposit the bike at a dock on the other end. People not bicycling can often be found walking to and from the Metro or the bus or even the airport. The Mount Vernon Trail has a branch to Washington National Airport. My friend told me that some people save cab or Metro fare by using the trail to and from the airport. Sure enough, along came a guy rolling his suitcase and carry-on at a fast clip to catch his plane.
Not all the trailways are official. The Mount Vernon Trail has tributaries where people’s feet have worn steep little dirt trails up to roadways or residential areas. We found just such a side trail up to a couple of blocks of three-story apartments and our destination, a Harris Teeter grocery store under some of the apartments. As we went up the trail, down charged a man in full business regalia, charcoal suit and white shirt and tie, carrying a briefcase. Steep dirt trail + business suit and briefcase = hurrying to the office is not a visual equation I’m familiar with, but it was a rather delightful sight.
Seen on I-85 South in north Georgia: hot pink ragtop Mustang. It sounds like a contradiction in terms – hot pink/muscle car? But hot pink turns out to be a great-looking color for a Mustang. It was being driven (fast) by a chick with a ponytail.
Noted on every Interstate everywhere I went: the unintended consequences of cruise control. Used to be there were flocks of cars going 60, 70, whatever. But now cruise control comes with incremental accelerate and decelerate as well as cancel and resume. You get an unpredictable mix of cars that imperceptably speed up or slow down with the drivers behind belatedly reacting. If you come up on somebody going slow the simplest way to bleed off speed is cancel cruise control and resume or reset it at a slower (or faster) speed when able. So on a busy freeway, cruise control goes like this: CRUISE ON, SPEED SET, CRUISE, NOTE SLOWDOWN AHEAD, DECELERATE, NOTE TRAFFIC SPEEDING BACK UP, ACCELERATE, CHANGE LANES AROUND SLOW VEHICLE, ACCELERATE TO MATCH SPEED OF VEHICLE AHEAD, NOTE SLOW-MOVING TRAFFIC IN *BOTH* LANES AHEAD, CANCEL! CANCEL! BRAKE! SET LOWER SPEED THAN PREVIOUS. CRUISE, NOTE TRAFFIC SPEEDING BACK UP. ACCELERATE….
This was a driving trip and I ran short of prep time so I flung everything I could possibly need into the depths of the car’s trunk. I spent most of the trip feeling over-equipped, since I didn’t need all the stuff I brought. Among other items, I had a short extension cord that just went along for 3000 miles of the ride – until last night. This otherwise adequate Best Western lacks a wall outlet near the bed. The outlet is eight feet from the bedside table, too far for the clock-radio cord. The room’s clock-radio was parked on a dresser clear across the room. Well, I like to listen to a clock-radio at night, and I like to have it on the bedside table. So – extension cord deployed, clock radio in desired position, pleasant night’s rest had.
Before this trip I invested in a Netbook computer. Good thing. It’s been helpful. Like this morning: thanks to the Netbook and Wi-Fi, I’m holed up in the Best Western room, blogging in cool comfort, instead of being on I-10 east of Baton Rouge where traffic is moving at 0-10 MPH. Seems there were one or more accidents or stalls on the freeway. Local traffic map on the Web indicates situation improving. So I’m soon off.
Washington DC – wonderful place. Monuments and memorials. Peal (change-ringing) bells at the National Cathedral AND the Old Post Office, where the Congress Bells are pealed in the Clock Tower. There’s a Clock Tower observation deck; this is one of the views.
And this indicates that Washington (Georgetown) has some of the same urban pestilences that Houston does….
I’m staying with a friend in Crystal City, on the other side of the Potomac River from Washington DC. When a new job brought her to the DC area she chose her residence VERY well. Not only does she live across the street from where she works, but her seventh-floor apartment balcony has this view. From left to right, note Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, airliner departing National Airport, and US Capitol Building on the on the far right.