Month: August 2010

Finding My New Running Dog Guitar

I’ve been thinking about a smaller guitar for some time, to take my music in different directions and to help move beyond what has been a rather long plateau of musical mediocrity when it comes to playing.  But the time was never right, the funds were always tight, and I had other priorities. A couple of months ago I broke through a personal logjam, and in the process started focusing more on enjoying my music.  (I am good enough to know that I’m not that good, but I decided not to worry about it anymore.)  Candice and I talked, and I told her my dream of getting a new guitar.  She said, “Let’s go for it.” Of course I had a plan and even discussed it with some friends.  I had a builder in mind and even sought out some of their guitars to test drive. But then I stumbled across a beautiful Running Dog guitar and decided to seize the day. Two weeks ago we were in New England with our twins for college …

Eating Our Way Through New England

From Blue State Coffee in Providence, where Claire and I are enjoying a couple hours relaxation after an early morning wake-up and drive, here are some reflections on the good food found in New England on our trip. Sorry Blue State, but the best coffee we found – hands down – was at Bard Coffee in Portland, Maine.  (That’s not really fair to Blue State, since neither Claire nor I are actually having coffee here…she’s into a great blueberry smoothie and I’m having a delicious iced tea, so we’ll rate them best smoothies and tea…but I digress.) We had breakfast at Bard two days in a row and our various cups of coffee and pastries were terrific.  Everything is fresh and the staff is incredibly friendly.  Plus, when I came in on Thursday, they had Nickel Creek’s The Fox coming out of the speakers, and on Friday, it was Old Crow Medicine Show followed by Alison Krauss and Union Station playing the great Jerry Douglas tune We Hide and Seek.  How can you not love …

The Most Ignored Building on Campus (Tours)

Quick Quiz:  Name the most beautiful building on any college campus that student tour guides do their best to ignore. Answer:  The College Chapel.  (I know, the picture at the top gave it away.) Based on my experience now with 17 campus tours in the past year,  colleges are doing everything possible to ignore their chapels when selling their schools to prospective students and their parents. We’ve seen it time and time again on our most recent northeast tour as we visit some of the most beautiful and well-maintained campuses this country has to offer.  These schools just ooze heritage.  We’ve toured an amazing adaptation of an old swimming pool into a state-of-the-art concert hall.  We’ve seen an old field house turned into a lively student union.  Two historic structures on one campus are under complete renovation as they become 21st century academic buildings.  In every instance – no matter the school – we’re given the full fire hose of information about the reuse of these older buildings. But when we pass arguably the loveliest …

Snapshots

Snapshots (visual and otherwise) from the road, including… #1 – We all laughed when we saw the bumper sticker pictured at the top of the post in Brattleboro, VT – that hot bed of liberalism – which reads, “Caution!  I don’t Brake for Right Wing Nut Jobs!” #2 – The best food in America is being served in small, independent cafes and restaurants.  Our two-week streak of not eating in a chain restaurant is intact! #3 – Just about the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever eaten was made at Amy’s Bakery Arts Cafe in Brattleboro.  The turkey was perfect, and the cranberry chutney and sourdough bread only made it better. #4 – After hearing about the wonderful Ragged Mountain Club in New Hampshire from our friends John and Bizzy Lane for decades, we finally made a visit and found out they were right on the money.  What a great place to spend a summer!  Andrew swam across the pond, making that the second body of water he’s crossed on this vacation (the first being Lake …

A Few (More) Observations from the Road

Two years ago today, I was blogging during a tour of the American Southwest and made a few short observations from the road.  This year we’re touring New England and I have a few more observations to share. Observation #1:  Our family tends to gravitate to the food choices in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. I wrote a few days ago that we visited Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven.  Today we found Lickety Split ice cream store in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  I’m not sure how long our waist-lines can stand this focus of our travel.  Luckily, I’ve also found the fitness room every day along the way. Observation #2:  The Porches Inn in North Adams (pictured above and also listed in 1000 Places) is just about the coolest property of the 200+ hotels that are members of Historic Hotels of America (HHA).   The twins and I stayed here about 2 1/2 years ago, and we couldn’t wait to get back and show it to Candice.  As the marketing materials describe it, …

Just Another Wonderful Visit to Mohonk Mountain House

Any year is special when one has the chance to visit Mohonk Mountain House twice in a twelve-month period.  That makes 2010 a great year! I was last here in April for a business meeting, and I wrote about the experience on More to Come…. This weekend, it has been all pleasure with the family on their first visit to this unique place. So rather than write, I’ll just post pictures of the buildings and landscape around Lake Mohonk along with photos of the family enjoying the weekend.  We’ve been bouldering (well, Andrew and Claire took the hike that doubles as rock climbing), enjoying the fantastic spa and fitness club, touring the beautiful gardens, swimming in the lake, hiking to the tower where the picture at the top of the post was taken, and eating more gourmet food than I care to remember.   Luckily, if you can hike, run, and swim you feel you’re fighting back against the expanding waistline.   I think we’re ready to tackle a second week of college visits! So here’s my …

Architecture Old and New

Too often college campuses can be poorly designed landscapes for a hodgepodge of mediocre buildings.  So when you come across good – or great – buildings in the academic setting it is a real treat. On this year’s vacation/college tour, we’ve seen some of both, but I’m pleased to say we’ve been fortunate in visiting colleges that through the years have been thoughtful about their buildings and their settings. We’ve now become old pros at the campus tour.  Andrew and Claire head off with one tour guide so they aren’t intimidated (if they ever are) by having the folks in the same group.  Candice and I then follow a second guide.  Candice pays attention to what the guide is saying, while keeping her eye trained on the design and maintenance of the buildings.  I take pictures of the architecture and any landscape feature that strikes my fancy.  We all come together at the end and share what we’ve seen and heard. Hey, it works for us! At the end of week one, we’ve seen some …