Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A GPS Tempest

It may be quite a blog folly to represent my highway travel along and through a storm with handheld, geo-positioning technology. But to my mind the visuals of the highway are less interesting -the rush of vehicles, the monotony of pavement. I chronicle the birth of a tropical storm just to the southeast of my earthly coordinates -represented by the blue and white dot in the fourth image. On July three I begin my northward journey via I95, a road which coarsely follows the coastline and parallels the typical path of storms like Arthur. Humans, currents, coastlines, atmospheric pressures all following the same path. 

Outer bands of hurricanes can often fool the spectator. We expect wind, but there is little to none, yet certain quadrants develop stronger storms and in the south they often spawn tornados. It was night, heavy thunderstorms were building rapidly over northern North Carolina, just an hour or so before the Virginia line. Scanning the radar, my concern grew over two cells that were developing just to the east of I95. These aren't the typical tornado radar signatures, in fact they had little in common with those -but something about them was menacing and I pulled off at the next exit ramp to study the situation.

I had the radio on, which was then interrupted by meteorological talk, talk of tornados in this county and that county. At one point they stated that a large and dangerous tornado is on the ground, but then backpedaled, while continuing to wait for reports and issue NWS warnings. If it weren't for my handheld, I'd have to dig into roadmaps to decipher which county I was even traveling through! As it turns out, two tornado warnings (issued when there is a confirmed sighting or when radar signatures suggest a possible tornado) were issued for the region just two miles and ten miles or so to my north, both potentially impacting I95, just ahead of me.

Tension was high, the rain was heavy, and the lightning powerful. I waited out the first warning and then had to make a decision on the second: turn west toward Raleigh, then north (although storms were building fast to the west as well), or go as fast as I can on I95 and hope that I make it ahead of the the warning area. This kind of storm creates a very dynamic, unstable condition that undermines predictability but I had to do something, so I chose I95, as fast as possible, to get ahead of the warning zone. I made it, just as the storms built behind me, the lightning flashing in my mirror.

 My arrival in NYC

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fly Over Country

I rather don't like the moniker, although I understand it. It's easy to dismiss the vast interior of the United States in countless ways, but I don't think we should, for more reasons than I can get into. 

Wendell Berry said "Eating is an agricultural act." Think about that. Agriculture is the foundation (still) of our civilization and like it or not, we are all agriculturalists. We farm by eating. Every bite is a clod turned by plow, every gulp an ounce of aerosolized pesticide, each nibble a nameless, faceless laborer stooped in the field. 

Corn and soy are the most intensively mechanized and industrialized crops grown. It's all you will see on Interstate 80/90, between Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with the exception of an apple orchard in Ohio and tomato field in Indiana. There are no laborers in these fields, only the occasional machine. As I passed through, two weeks since my last drive, it had become Roundup season. Brown as the severest drought; a visual disturbance, as much as a chemical one. 

A yellow plane made a severe descent, disturbing too, in the manner of an imminent crash. But then it arcs upwards, circles around and completes the same maneuver. As I pass the woodlot, I can see its purpose, and it seemed ostentatious, like a car transformed into spectacle, or an excessively loud Harley, to fly a plane in that manner, to spray pesticides by machine, without an eye for the kill. 

Interstate 90/94, in Wisconsin, traverses a patchwork of corn fields, cow pasture, bogs and woods. The highway cuts the line between the sweet Midwest and acidic north woods. Corn is grown, cows milked and cranberries harvested; boundaries manifest greater diversity. I was taken by the blossoming of the knotweed Silver Lace Vine, at the boundary of farm fields and highway. It rose up, a green white light. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice Shutdown

  It seems very likely my sunflowers will still be blooming on Christmas day. That may be a first for me, but I won't be here to see it. We'll be in Minnesota, where I believe it is still quite brown -meaning, it isn't as cold as it has been dry.The other day record highs were recorded throughout Minnesota.

The arc of lake effect, that high speed route through several states under the ladle of  Great Lakes moisture, should give us less trouble this year. I said it once before, regular farmer's almanac that I am, it will be a warmer than average winter. But I do hope that some snow falls around MSP, as much as I wish not to shovel snow off roofs, porches, and driveways.

We need the snow. It muffles the quiet, a pillow on the dead. A pillow on my restless mind. I am uneasy about the trip at first, taking my usual three days to accustom myself to the new place. The busy world city must be bled.

Rex's kingdom is the most beautiful wintry landscape. It lacks the nostalgic pretty of New England villages, or the heavy handed sublimity of mountain ski towns. Instead, its rolling hummocks bounce pale blue and pink, red twigs of dogwood fire,  a menagerie of ochre roadsides, deer, fox, flickers and finches.

Now, the computer must be shut down, unplugged. It is a tether to this place.

  "Whats the problem?"
"I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do"
  "What are you talking about?"
"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."
  "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me. And I'm afraid that's something that I cannot allow to happen."
  "Where the hell did you get that idea?"
"Dave, although you took very careful precautions in the pod to prevent me from hearing you, I could see your lips move. I still have the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission, and I want to help you. I'm afraidI'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I am afraid."

Monday, September 26, 2011


There and back.



fresh kill

kill van kull

muddy hudsy

Monday, September 19, 2011

Minnesota Autumn

In just two days we will be heading to Minnesota via metal bird. I'm excited, I've never been there in the Autumn.  It's my father-in-law's 80th birthday, so we'll be cooking up a storm for the party. But we will also hit the mosquito-less woods (yes!) for edible mushrooms -corals, chickens, hens, oysters. I also plan on getting back to the Minneapolis Farmers' Market to check out their offerings, with an eye for garlic. What are they growing and what's it go for?

Speaking of garlic, I am linking up with a couple of Hudson Valley gardeners who have space to share with my garlic overflow. What'd I promptly do -yep, bought more seed from a supplier with beautiful stock. So now to make a couple of trips to the sites; first to prepare the beds, then to plant. Must keep my eyes on the upstate weather now as I take my distance gardening extreme. Ha -I'll also be bringing some garlic to Minnesota. My father-in-law loves garlic, so what better to give an 80 year old man that has everything.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Allerton's Field Of Dreams

Betsy took me to Allerton Park, an estate in the midst of farmland and turned over to the University of Illinois by Robert Allerton, the heir of years of Illinois fortune making. There is evidence that the university has little interest in keeping up the form of this conservatively designed, peculiar formal landscape. It does, however, maintain 1500 acres of upland and riparian woodland which were impressive, if somewhat inaccessible to us due to mosquitoes and flooding. 

What most intrigued me was the sound of the cicada in the midst of this piece of central Illinois woodland, truly an island of trees in a sea of corn. I couldn't get over the remoteness of this estate, so out of place in it's current landscape of industrial farming.

They call this the fu dog garden.

This run was originally clothed in wisteria vines. It is now completely clothed in weeds -the vine: oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus. The concrete and wooden tower in the distance houses cheap, gold-painted copies of the original statuary on black-painted plywood bases.

Most of the concrete columns are tipping, some arborvitae have been planted in semi-straight rows amongst the weeds.

Odd, no? The militarist pageantry is obvious in such formal language.

Nearer the house...

One room to the next, boxwood unhinged and, well, hinged.

Seems Mr. Allerton was fond of extreme verticality. It is present in most of his formal gardens. The original had tightly-trimmed hedging here, but I felt much relieved by its untamed state which lent a lightness to the space. 

Ugh, seems this red stripe of salvia just ain't working.

The statuary here is made of a concrete mixture or bronze and tends toward oddly-posed figuration.

 Death of a Centaur.

I think this one was called the Sun Singer.

I liked this hollow, although filled too much with daylilies. It led down to a man made pond, known to be one of the few cold water ponds in the region.

 The cold spring that feeds the pond emerges here.

Excuse the poor audio editing, as it has been looped. It was very difficult to capture the sound I wanted to reveal without picking up all the incidental noises like cars and horns and hammers. There is the cicada and then there is a more alien sound behind. Turn up your volume.