January 14-19, 2004

Back From Whence We Came

At some point along the line, Vi realized that it was now possible to attend an art workshop in the Catskills in which she was interested that she figured she'd have to blow off because of the trip, so that kind of set our agenda.

Wednesday, January 14

Leaving Tennessee and heading north left us with mixed feelings. On the one hand, north meant cold; on the other, north meant decent beer. Surprised that I haven't mentioned beer much? That's because, the further south we went, the lousier the beer got. Back on January 6th, at an otherwise decent Italian restaurant in North Carolina, the waiter proudly announced that they carried the entire Budweiser product line. "That's it?", I queried. He answered in the affirmative, so we had wine. And on January 8th when we were in Florida, we went to a local barbecue joint, sat down, looked at the menu, asked about the beer, and were told that the choices were Budweiser or Michelob Lite. Barbecue without beer? We left, and went to the Mexican restaurant where Vi got her Margaritas, I got my Tecate & lime, and we decided to shorten the trip.

Back to the present. We did have plenty of time to make it to Ashokan, NY for Vi's class on the weekend, so we found some nice, winding, scenic roads up through western Virginia (and, indeed, West Virginia). Nice as the Saab is, roads like this made me hunger to be behind the wheel of one of my Alfas:

This was farm country, and we saw a lot of this kind of thing:

Thursday, January 15

However, the further north we drove, the more the scene changed to this kind of thing:

With temperatures plummeting up north, several of you had written to inquire what the hell we were doing heading in that direction. Good question, but the die was cast and we pressed on northward. We watched the temperature readout in the car descend gradually from the thirties through the twenties and teens, until it was reading 3 degrees as we unloaded our stuff into the final motel among rows of strip malls just off the interstate in central Pennsylvania. We blew off plans to go out to dinner in favor of chicken wings and nachos in the Best Western's crappy sports bar/restaurant because neither of us felt like getting into a frigid car before and after dinner. (At least they had Yuengling on tap at the sports bar.)

Friday, January 16—Monday, January 19

After a slow start on Friday that included Vi going to a couple of art stores for supplies she didn't have with her (and to Wal-Mart for long johns, since she was going to be staying in a bunkhouse in the Catskills for the weekend), we bee-lined for Tivoli, New York and lunch with friends Louise Kalin (an artist whom Vi convinced to also take the workshop) and her poet and professor husband Louis Asekoff. Here's a shot of Louise in both her studio and her pajamas:

From there, I left Vi to spend the weekend with Louise and the other workshop participants, and boogied home. I was a little concerned that, with the arctic weather while we were away and the furnace turned down, I might return to some frozen pipes, especially since our friend Mike Counihan was the one we'd asked to check the house while we were gone, and the pipes in his own house froze and dumped two feet of water in his basement. But all was well. Vi returned via a convenient bus connection on Monday evening after a successful and fun workshop.

Click here for a parting, representative, panoramic shot with the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. (Use your browser's horizontal scroll bars to pan back and forth.)

In summary...

We hope you weren't too bored, or disappointed that we didn't make it all the way out to New Mexico. Sorry—it was just too damned far! Once we made the decision to cut the road trip to a reasonable length, we actually had a good time. Who knows—we might even travel together again sometime.............

Back to the Road Trip 2004 title page