Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Notes about Places

1. The little Rancho Santa Veronica, not far from Tecate, is in inland Baja California. The golf course has but three holes; for years, they've said they'll build six more when they solve the water problem. Sunset Magazine did a feature on what a joy it was to stay in the quaint hotel, but the hotel wrote the magazine to say "it's too soon, we're not ready--tell them to stop coming". The hotel is never quite ready, but always attended by loyal patrons.

2. On the streets of Guadalajara, the little storefronts sell soda pop in plastic baggies, because the bottle deposit is more than the cost of the drink. You wander the streets, which remind you of a cleaner, more traditional downtown LA, sucking a straw placed in a baggie.

3. In Sudbury, Suffolk, you walk a trail where a railway used to be, from town out toward Long Melford. You take the little bus to a house called the Beatrix Potter House, which is filled with sketches and little paintings by Ms. Potter. The cathedral at Long Melford is imposing and has an imposing looking box in which the congregants may donate sums for upkeep.

4. In Magnet Cove, Arkansas, the natural magnetite sends all compasses reeling. Folks flock there to find the knife-sharpening flint.

5. In the toy museum at Bethnall Green, the Victorian toys ceaselessly enchant. You walk through rows of tin soldiers, puppet theaters, and mechanical devices, all behind glass--you have the place almost to yourself, because right thinking people are all at the British Museum or some kind of palace.

6. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, you stop to use the first Automated Teller Machine in history. In Tyler, Texas, you drive on the first "adopt a highway". In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, you find the birthplace of the parking meter.

7. In Mesa, Arizona, planned elder living in giant manufactured housing parks abounds. You do guided water ballet while others go to take French lessons, but the buzz through the complex is that everyone is so looking forward to the big dance that night. A new man moves in, a farmer from Nebraska escaping winter, and your friends girlfriends all tell her--"if you don't take him, I will!".

8. Along the highway as you drive north in inland Florida, the fresh oranges are available in season all along the way. You've never lived until you've bought pure, fresh oranges and poured juice from rind into your mouth using only hand and teeth. In the south, you see alligators in drainage ditches and ponds everywhere. Sometimes the fish you see is not native, but an African refugee from Lake Victoria, dismayingly "successfully" transplanted into suburban ditches.

9. In Camden, Arkansas, a postman lobbied Congress to put "In God We Trust" on the coins. In Gurdon, Arkansas, forty miles away, you go out late at night along the tracks to see the headless railroadman ghost light. In Hot Springs, Arkansas, you look at the surrounding mountains and eat pancakes at any of a number of old-fashioned Euro places. Then you ride a military amphibious vehicle, called a duck, in the local lake.

10. In New Mexico, outside of Carlsbad, you stop in the evening to watch thousands upon thousands of bats surge from the caverns, and fly out into the night, harvesting bugs. You drive through miles of parched shrubby remains of ancient coral oceans, until you reach Sitting Bull Falls. There the waterfall splashes, the trees have leaves, and you see little fish, in little pools, in hidden canyons in the desert.

11. In McKinney, Texas, you can eat dinner in the old county jail, but you lose your appetite when the menu tells you about people hanged there. In the hill country of Texas, near Fredericksburg, you climb up Enchanted Rock, which reminds you of giant pink chewing gum, grown rock hard and way high.

12. In Thomas Hart Benton's home in Kansas City, you're struck most by the way that little girls etched angels in the windows. In Unity Village, people wander the maze painted in the asphalt. You tire, mid-meditation, and cross the lines.

13. In La Canada, California, January finds you deep in a forest of blooming camellias. Visit the garden in the morning, and you'll see deer spring like slinkys, and canyon mist everywhere. For an exquisite twin-bill, you drive two towns over to the Huntington Garden, and drink in a succulent garden in Heaven, plus a blue boy and George Washington with those wooden teeth.

14. In the Columbia River Valley in Oregon, you walk in dense, rainforest-like fernwoods, while the mists of falling water bounces off the waterfall. You see a quick slither of orange or other neon tails, as the local snakes clear for your passage.

15. In Belize City, they called me something like "kaffir! kaffir! White caliph!" as we walked through the streets, but the cokes used real corn syrup. The man with the hidden brass knuckles asking for beer money was less of a thrill, but on the other hand, the johnny cakes for breakfast hit the spot. The cabman had to check out the cafe before we went in to eat, and then to watch for our emergence, which was unsettling. Later, they issued the travel advisory. In the countryside, everyone was friendly and non-threatening, and we saw howler monkeys and coatimundis by the pyramids, and ate lobster egg rolls on real rolled eggs in a Chinese cafe in Orange Walk.

16. Our friend who managed the now-closed Chinese restuarant in LA's Chinatown, where they made crab with special salt to die for, used to have to watch to ensure that extra dishes were not listed in Mandarin on the check by waiters using the linguistic advantages of writing a bill of sale in a tongue the patrons did not speak.

17. The little chapel on the hill overlooking Tonala, Mexico, is filled with flowers and candles, like an imaginary church in a graphic novel.

18. Billboards advertise the broken cookie factory in the Oklahoma mountains for miles, but the broken cookies always seemed to be closed.

19. On White Oak Lake, where I love to fish, the issue is not when you'll see a poisonous water mocassin snake--only how many, how big, and how close to you.

20. The college girls wear bear bells in Jotliffe Provincial Park, in British Columbia, and you hear a tinkling as they approach. You scan the rocks for rock rabbits, but sometimes you see a huge marmot sunning himself. You see a bear and her cub cross your path, but your spouse makes you leave before you get a good snap. Whiskey jack jays, used to tourists, pretend to dive-bomb you all Hithcockishly, but they want you to hold up chips and fries for them to snatch.

21. In Norwalk, California, the bookstores have used books nobody ever finds, and the Good Will has an art work made entirely of gluing gravel scenically on a canvass. In Hollywood, you're enrapt by the store that sells nothing but wind-up toys and cheap kaleidocopes. At the Long Beach Coin Show, people write ten thousand dollar checks as if they were ten dollar checks.

22. In Victorville, in the California desert, you could go to the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, where Trigger stands, stuffed.
In Rockhounders' State Park, in the New Mexico desert, you pick up things that might be geodes, if only you had a diamond saw.

23. In the La Brea Tar Pits, in Los Angeles, you see the natural asphalt, and all those saber toothed and mammoth bones, and you feel so small and insiginificant and suffused with joy, because that was only thousands of years ago.

24. In the 19th Century church in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, you pause for a moment, because people are inside, praying quietly and yet you imagine fervently, and you feel the spirit of something apostolic and universal.

25. As to the Museum of Jurasssic Technology, you remember all the
planned absurdity, but then you wonder if your life is not already absurd enough without the benefit of exhibition. Then you remember you keep a weblog, and quiet down a bit.
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