scribbles tagged ‘USA’

Moving decisions

Monday, April 28th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Minneapolis city skyline at dawn I’ve been driven around different desirable areas in Minneapolis (thanks Peggy Pearl!) and will get some home choosing advice from a professional realtor. For now, these are the things influencing my likely choice of Wendy House in Minneapolis.

Warehouse conversion in downtown Minneapolis as a home because:

  1. Meeting neighbours.  Making friends, in lifts, in corridors, in the shared facilities - garden, gym, swimming pool, garage, other social spaces
  2. Managing structural maintenance. Apartments have management companies. I won’t need to find, interview service providers and make arrangement to let them have secure access then check their work and follow-up if there are any problems.
  3. Size appropriateness: Not too big, not too small, not too many bathrooms to clean, no huge basement or loft to fill with stuff that I don’t need or use. Under the bed is enough space for unused stuff….
  4. No snow shovelling to get my car out. A warehouse apartment must come with some form of covered, maintained garage.
  5. In home Sampo care. Some apartments provide a service for caring for your pet while you’re away
  6. Walking places. The sidewalks downtown will allow me to walk to places (temperature permitting) like a range of restaurants, shops and galleries
  7. Bus services nearby. The Minneapolis bus services were pretty good, the city centre provides a central hub enabling me to get all over the place easily, not just use the ‘local’ route that goes through the village.
  8. More people like me. Single, no children living with them and elderly.

Arts and Craft’s house in a village style location in suburbia as a home because:

  1. Commute time and traffic. My work place is in a suburb with some very nice villages within easy distance with relatively light traffic (compared to Berkshire or Seattle)
  2. Can’t hear neighbours. I love living in a detached home, though I’ve had a lucky history in town homes (terraced housing)
  3. Garden for Sampo. Sampo has always been an indoor cat, but she does enjoy a wander in the current Wendy House garden and watching the other cats and birds play there
  4. Property space for the price. I can get more square footage for my dollar. Feels like more of an ‘investment’.
  5. Gardening. The relaxing pleasure of planning, planting, caring for,  and watching my own garden grow

Have I missed anything that you think it’s important to consider? How would you rate the value of things. Not hearing the neighbours is a fairly weighty requirement…


3 bits of fabulous banter »

perspective

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Truch clearing snowBar staff: where are you moving to?

Wendy: Minneapolis

Bar staff: (raises eyebrows, furrows brows looking perplexed)

Wendy: It’s in the USA

Bar staff: Wow! I’d love to move out of Reading


2 bits of fabulous banter »

transfer

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Bus ticketwendy: I’m a stranger in your town, how do I use your bus

Bus driver: where do you want to go?

He explained that for $1.75 I could travel anywhere in the city for 2.5hrs. Brilliant. I can get on and off any bus I want to. Luxury. I wanted to spend a day travelling on the busses but instead focussed on the more socially acceptable activity of going to a local art gallery.

The bus driver reminded me when I got to the stop I needed to get off at. He was very helpful. We met again on my return trip and he remembered me, greeting me with a warm smile hello. The bus drivers that I met were all very helpful and friendly. Very impressive.

 


1 wonderful musing »

far from the madding crowd

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

video exhibit engagement boothsI was able to explore some artsy stuff on a Sunday during my recent Minneapolis visit. The Walker Art Centre was a real pleasure. I found myself enjoying the building almost as much as the exhibits. First, they had a brushed-suede alcove for watching film exhibits.

Empty.

Next, for visitors suffering from Museum fatigue they’d provided plenty of comfortable seating with views of the local scenery rather than the thought provoking exhibits. I watched children sledding down the hillside. Apart from myself the seats were…

Public spaceEmpty.

DSCN2700Each corner that I walked around provided a new and interesting view of the architecture. There appeared to me more docents in the museum than visitors. I felt guilty looking at, and photographing, the building.  There will be another post on the fabulous exhibits, to compensate for my guilt. The corridors were….

Empty.

Normally I have to wait, twist, and stretch to find a view of a building without people messing up the view. Not in the Walker Art Centre on a Sunday in March. It’s a place where you can be alone.

Maybe even lonely.

Definitely

Empty.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

at the gate

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

iPads in airport by the gateInternational flights invariably mean a couple of hours at the airport. It doesn’t take long to tire of airports, expensive shopping, expensive food, controlled air, controlled people.

Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.

iPad iPad in airport bar, swipe paymentKid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.

iPad in airport bar - menuI’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….


4 bits of fabulous banter »

meeting bloggers

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Present! - 2 booksSome good reading for my long flight home from Minneapolis, courtesy of the talented Peggy Pearl who gave me an exciting tour of the snow-bound city.

We took in a classic Diner, a funky bar, some creative driving, the Matisse exhibition and the Minnesotta Institute for the Arts.

I’m now full and cultured.
Icicles growing on carsThe cars develop their own icicles while they’re waiting for the owners to return. These icicles took about 2hrs to form on a warm day.  Things happen fast and frostily here in Minneapolis.


1 wonderful musing »

reflections

Monday, February 24th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

The sky reflected in the bonnet. Cruising at 20mph. Not a car, or person, in sight. Look at the quality of that road, beautifully surfaced. This is a drivers paradise.

route 66, Texas grasslands


1 wonderful musing »

mystically beautiful flatlands

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

The beauty of the flat Texan grasslands was awe Inspiring. A mystical beauty. I stopped the car and stood in the wind watching the clouds gently roll around the huge canvas above. The peace in such a place is invigorating. To be able to walk and live with these skies must make it easier to feel close to a god. It’s the sort of place I close my eyes and think of when I’m seeking peace and sleep after a crowded day in a busy world. Slow down, smell the grass, feel the breeze, see the clouds. I had some unexpectedly wonderful times alone on the road. This photograph captures one of them.

grassland in Texas


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Laundry ship set to sail

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,  |

Laundry ShipAnother stormy weekend chez Wendy House.

A temporary break in the flood production system. No rain this morning.

Laundry to be washed and dried. No modern tumble-drier accessories. My laundry its catching some rare sun rays in the Wendy House wind-swept garden.

Extra ballast had been added to the ‘airer’ to prevent it attempting a take-off garden tour. Bricks.

The ships that carried lumber from Seattle to San Francisco, to build the beautiful houses there, carried stone back to Seattle as ballast to weight the ships appropriately on the return journey. The stone was used to build many of the Historic buildings in the Pioneer square area of Seattle. Awesome.

Sampo stretchSampo is staying in.

The RSPCA has warned that cats are likely to take-off in these strong winds. Despite her own substantial personal ballast, Sampo’s a cautious cat.

Sampo’s not risking any unplanned flights.

 


7 bits of fabulous banter »

county road k – somewhere over there…

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

route 66 isnt actually a road in this part of Texas - according to GarminI’m still on the road, but my Satnav doesn’t think so. Where am I going, will I find a place to stay, and eat, before sundown?

My worry levels were slowly, but surely, rising. Maybe I should get back on the Interstate, the nearby I40? No, I’m here for Route 66 and I’m going to drive it with, or without my Satnav’s road recognition.


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no inn at the grain store

Saturday, February 8th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

This is a Texas town in the panhandle. I’d seen a couple of ghost towns so this is positively thriving with its new fangled grain store technology and a couple of big cars. But no motel. No café. I was beginning to learn that Texas towns marked on the map could be ghost towns,  a couple of shacks with no facilities for travellers, no cafés, no gas stations, no corner stores. Seems like a shack would qualify for a name on the map.

grai. store in Texas


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Roses’ cafe – closed tonight

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

typical cafe and motel - that are still openThe Office to this motel was open, doors to rooms were open, guests’ SUVs showed the place had life. I was still suffering from Texas chainsaw film hangover and I was hungry but Rosie wasn’t around to fill me up for the night. Plenty more nearby towns on the map. I’ll try their facilities. I didn’t know it yet, but I was in for a long night and would soon regret not taking hospitality from this motel…


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not the Bagdad cafe

Friday, January 31st, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

typical cafe motel - unclear if it's still open...On my drive through the Texas panhandle, I hadn’t booked a place to stay in advance. As dusk began to fall I started pulling into the forecourt of roadside motels. This sign attracted me. As I drove closer it was difficult to tell if this place was open or not. I drove a long slow loop around it and left without getting out. I shouldn’t have watched the “Texas chainsaw massacre” it’s skewed my perception of run down, isolated places in Texas


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midgets, geese, guns and cycles

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Day 6: October 26th

mgmidgetDSCN1002 (2) 1) Classic cars, an MG midget rattles around in the SUV sized road lanes.

2) Laid-back wildlife, a flock of Canadian geese wander around a suburban road (I’d lost the route again)

DSCN1014 (2)3) My guns bigger than yours, a big black SUV demonstrates the owners gun-toting capabilities with a big gun box.

Sapulpa (12)4) Cycling families, bicycles on board the carry-all car

The drive through Oklahoma was mainly overcast, threatening rain. The weather reminded me lf British summertime, comfortably familiar.

 


2 bits of fabulous banter »

nice ride

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Day 7: October 27th

Friendly Americans on the street, and the owners of places I stayed, spontaneously enthused ‘nice ride’. They meant my hire-car, a soft-top Chevy Camaro.

The ride is all show and no punch; a fairly average drive. I did like the impression it had on the public, I imagined it was like driving a Ford Capri in the UK in the 1970′s. I felt like a big kid driving it. I loved it.

My first choice for a car had been a classic 1968 Ford Mustang. How much?!!!!! The price for that, or a classic Cadillac, had been in a different galaxy from my budget. The Camaro rocked it, more than fine.

Texas (10)


1 wonderful musing »

state lapse photography

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

I took 100s of photographs on my Route 66 tour by balancing my camera on the top of the steering wheel without looking at the viewfinder. Point and click.

The sense of ‘space’ and ‘freedom’ with so few obstructions like traffic jams, traffic lights, people crossing the road was striking compared to the crowded mainland island of Britain. One photograph from each State might help you see this and the variation in the atmosphere created by the varied climate, vegetation and landscape

Route 66 by state

Route 66 by State

 


1 wonderful musing »

ghost road

Saturday, December 21st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 6: October 26th

Route 66 Oklahoma, rinning next to the new road

Much of route 66 has been replaced by a newer road  Often the newer road is directly next to the old road. The original road is left to nature, gradually becoming impassable. I quite fancied trying this old road out, but I would need a car with higher clearance than my sporty little Camero to really do it justice.

Learning for next time: Hire a white pick-up truck that’s suitable for ‘off roading’ and carrying stuff picked up in antique stores


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Sayre

Thursday, December 19th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sayre, by the train stationDay 6: October 26th

The small town of Sayre has many of the qualities of the small towns on the route:

  • A small railway station used by local businesses to transport their products across the USA. Often the equipment is antique, working but gradually decaying
  • An impressive and well maintained courthouse. Some places had old and new courthouses. The law has a prominent place here in city buildings
  • A very wide main street where cars can park bonnet pointing at the curb on both sides of the street still leaving room for about 4 lanes. The majority of ‘cars’ parked on the street are pick-up trucks (mostly white)
  • A secure looking brick-built ‘National Bank’ at the corner of a main downtown street
  • At least one antique store and often several thrift stores. Guns are available in the antique store. This one in Sayre appeared to have an unusual variation on a gun decorating the sidewalk
  • A local newspaper, often called ‘The County Record’ 

Sayre bankSayre, outside an antiques mall
Sayre record - local newaperIt reminds me of the old western films – a bank, the law, the train, guns, and newspapers.


2 bits of fabulous banter »

cowboys and indians

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

DSCN1027Day 6: October 26th

Leaving Oklahoma city, driving west, I start seeing signs of cowboys (large trucks for transporting horses) and Indians (gift stores). These Indians were Cherokees.

The lack of tourists during October is painfully obvious in empty car parks and stores. I’m often the only potential customer and I failed to buy anything in any gift stores. I’m a pathetic gift shopper. I was tempted by many colourful cowboy boots and moccasins, the head-dresses, jewellery and pottery bowls didn’t capture my attention.

DSCN1020 (2) Other local industries appear to include some sort of mining, is this ‘fracking’? It certainly looked like some form of gas or oil drilling.


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don’t start

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Road Crossing InstructionsUsing a pedestrian crossing in the USA is a complicated process that requires the pedestrian to be English literate. I suspect I’ve been doing something wrong because I’m prone to not reading instructions until after something has gone wrong….


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Sapulpa Oklahoma closes around 2pm

Friday, December 13th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sapulpa (4)Day 5: October 25th

I stopped looking for an all day breakfast. All the food places close at 2pm, reminiscent of Britain in the 1980s. Instead of a late lunch I browsed the local antiques mall and walked up to the drive-in ATM (UK = cash machine).

USA small town antiques malls are fascinating glimpses of everyday life in days gone by.

Learnings for next time:

  • Eat lunch before 2pm
  • Hire a car with a big boot to carry purchases of strange thing’s found in antiques malls
  • Buy an extra suitcase while travelling to carry all the antique mall purchases

Sapulpa (6)


2 bits of fabulous banter »

roundabout convention

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

RoundaboutDay 5: October 25th

Within a 5 mile stretch of road

While on one of many unintentional detours off route 66

I encountered 3 roundabouts.

That’s all the roundabouts that I saw on my journey, all together.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Chelsea, Oklahoma

Monday, December 9th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Oklahoma (5)

Day 5: October 25th

Blue skies with no airplane trails. this was the way across most of the trip. The silence and ‘size’ of the skies were awe inspiring and made me remember how noisy, grey, crowded and obscured the skies are in England. Take a deep breath. It feels good.

Oklahoma (7)I don’t seem to have gotten far in my 5 days on the road. This Chelsea sign doesn’t mention Kansas, understandable, I guess Dorothy found her own way home to the farm.

Oklahoma (6)Chelsea is quiet.

I guess everyone is indoors cleaning their guns and stuffing things

Oklahoma (8)


3 bits of fabulous banter »

more cyclists than motorcyclists

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

It was in Kansas that I realised that I’d seen more cyclists on the route than Motorcyclists. This trend continued for the whole of the route, with the one exception of the village of Oatman in Arizona. These cyclists often appeared to be going somewhere, rather than ‘just’ exercising, with backpacks or paniers. Route 66 is often cyclist-friendly because of the lack of cars, large patched shoulders, and directness of route between towns.

The cyclist below is crossing Kansas where farming appears to be a major industry:
Oklahoma (3)


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lost the route

Thursday, December 5th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Kansas (16)Day 5: October 25th

During the journey I lost Route 66 on multiple occasions. Illinois and Missouri provided well placed, easy to read and understand signs. Things started going wrong in Kansas where I would get to a road junction that had no sign for route 66 so I’d choose to keep going in my current direction.

This proved to be a poor strategy. In this photo you see the view a couple of miles after a junction. I could be on an unsurfaced part of route 66 or I could be off track. Your guess is as good as mine. I was using a hire-car provided Satnav (GPS) who was later named ‘Francine’. Francine only wanted me to use Interstates to get between towns, even nearby towns. I tended to program a route through towns and then ignore her until I got lost. I was also using a set of essential maps which numbered the interstate exits where route 66 crossed the interstate. I used these junctions to rediscover the route.

Different States label the route on different ways. Kansas was my first, not last, experience of poor signage.

In Illinois I learned that the route often forked, taking different roads during different time periods. Often I’d have to choose between different roads based on when they were officially route 66.

Learning for next time: find an App or SatNav service which has been designed to enable traveller to follow the many route options for route 66


2 bits of fabulous banter »

water towers as cultural icon

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Towns and small cities proudly display their name on their local water tower. 3 examples from 3 States:

Cuba, Missouri

Missouri Hicks BBQ Cuba MO (13)

Commerce, Kansas Kansas (19)

Norman, Oklahoma

Norman (2)


3 bits of fabulous banter »

a quickie in Kansas

Sunday, December 1st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 5: October 25th

The Kansas leg of route 66 is very short, cutting a corner between Missouri and Oklahoma. I stopped in a small town called ‘Commerce’ to enjoy some of the well maintained services for travellers, before I lost the routeKansas (20)


2 bits of fabulous banter »

Carterville cafe

Friday, November 29th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Day 5: October 25th

Driving in to Carterville I’m looking for a BIG breakfast, I found one in the Carterville cafe where the staff are cheerfully friendly and even gave me an extra t, on the bill:
Carterville (7)Carterville (8)

The Carterville website is worth a visit to see photographs of the old town and hear how the township sees itself. Here’s an extract copied from their website describing the town’s history:

Visitor’s from  the U.S. and overseas seem to be especially interested in the older and smaller towns that reflect the values of America’s Main Street and Route 66, and Carterville, Missouri is just such a place.

    Having celebrated it’s 125th. Anniversary, Carterville’s colorful history was born in the early 1870′s and later prospered during the lead and zinc mining boom of the turn-of-the-century. In those days, the town’s population soared to over 5000.  Two trolly tracks ran down the middle of Main street, and business thrived. Overcrowding and wealth, full employment, social clubs and the rowdy miners were common in those days, but the city did not diversify and depended on the mining industry for it’s survival.  By 1920 the boom turned to bust, and Carterville’s miners moved on, leaving a dwindling population to deal with closing businesses and fewer income opportunities.  The Great Depression  would have finished the town off, except for one thing,  a new federal road known then as Highway 66.
    Carterville’s Main Street bustled once again with automobile and truck traffic.  In spite of losing over half of it’s population, the town now had ten filling stations in operation.  Old buildings that once housed department stores, newspaper offices and banks were converted in hotels, auto service garages and cafes.  Even though the town suffered another set-back when Route 66 was decommissioned in the mid 1980′s, Carterville had evolved into a quiet, friendly community…and seemed to be content.   It can also be said today that Carterville owes it’s very survival to the Mother Road, Route 66.
    Today, interest in this most famous of all  American highways is surging, and Carterville wants to show it’s pride in, and respect of, Route 66. Local residents display the symbol of Route 66 on their homes, businessmen have placed Route 66 banners on Main Street poles and painted the shield on the pavement for all to see.  A Route 66 flag flies beneath Old Glory and events are held in the Fall to celebrate being a part of America’s Main Street.
    Carterville is now home to “Superman on 66″, a Superman memorbelia museum and ice cream parlor.  The first Route 66 Visitors Welcome Center in southwest Missouri opened it’s doors this year in a 1937 era filling station, and several other old buildings have been purchased for  a Route 66 themed Bed and Breakfast and restaurant.  Plans are also underway to purchase a city block for use as a Route 66 Festival site to attract more regional visitors, and other Route-themed activities are being considered by the new “Festival Committee”.
    Everyone seems to be jumping on the Route 66 bandwagon, including the town’s police officers whose uniform shoulder patches sport the Route 66 emblem.  Could it be that Carterville has the same spirit as the fictional town residents of “Radiator Springs” in the Pixar movie “CARS” had? 

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the road to Kansas

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Missouri (7)Day 5: October 25th

A lot of the drive through Missouri was like driving through south western English woodlands. Except for the almost completely deserted roads. To drive on such empty roads was a real luxury, I could drive as slow or fast as I wanted without worrying about irritating the car behind me….

Very beautiful

5 days on the road and I’m only in my 2nd State, despite not exploring St. Louis or Springfield Missouri. It feels like slow progress and missing way too much….

Learning for next time: plan at least half a day each day for stopping to enjoy and photograph the local nature and small towns


1 wonderful musing »

Halltown Missouri

Monday, November 25th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Mansion at Elfindale (3)Day 5: October 25th

As sundown approaches, driving west becomes more difficult

  • the low sun obscures the road with its bright golden glare
  • I’m getting tired as we reach the early hours of the UK morning

I’ve taken to rising early and getting on the road at day break with the sun behind me. Missouri is already feeling like it belongs in the wild west. I pulled-up in the small roadside town of ‘Halltown’ to enjoy the morning light and architecture.

Halltown (13)The small, sleeping town, captures much of the feel of Missouri. The strong church presence in everyday life with multiple churches and a large cross on a store-front. A mix of old decaying buildings and modern immaculately presented buildings. Trees, telegraph poles and empty roadway…


2 bits of fabulous banter »