Gap Travels

After 15 years of full-time work I was fortunate to have a long summer break for travels and visits, including Philadelphia, DC, Blacksburg VA, Asheville and Brasstown NC, Berea KY, Madison WI, and Minneapolis. Every so often I remembered to pull out the camera; here are a few of the fine people and places I visited.

My steed is a new Honda Fit; zippy, comfortable, and roomy. And 40mpg is a big plus on $3 gas. Note Teva sandals—after resisting throughout the 90's and 00's (late adopter) I got a pair and haven't taken them off since.

Big thanks to my workmates for getting me an iPod, shown in its place of honor clamped to the air vent. Having all your music right there is rather amazing (late adopter #2), and often inspires with the perfect track—fiddle tune, ringing vocal harmony, Beatles song, or Bach Partita.

My trip started in DC, where (left to right) Joanna Pernick, Ted Hodapp, Lynn Baumeister, Chloe Maher and I got a personal tour of the Library of Congress.

Our friend Sharon McKinley works as a music cataloguer at the Library; here she's showing off the fancy ornamentation.

They went overboard decorating most every square inch of the library, including this tile floor with a corn motif.

I tagged along when Ted's rapper team danced at Eastern Market, a nice outdoor venue where people actually watched the dancing. Hearing where the dancing was going to be a DC friend asked "Are you sure? It just burned down." In the ensuing email discussion David Roodman (afterparty host, hidden back right) replied "Oh, I forgot to mention our house burned down too. That sort of thing is routine around here so we often don't mention it. You are still welcome to come over and sing."

We enjoyed superb dance fiddling from Edith Coakley and David Knight.

The next day Ted and his friend Nadine hosted a big outdoor games party. When's the last time you played capture the flag?

I like living in a country where quotes like this are displayed five stories high. We have a lot of rights, even in these reactionary times. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Shots from the road dept—a cool pedestrian bridge near Woodstock VA.

At the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown NC I was delighted to earn my keep by helping extract 150 pounds of wildflower honey produced by the school's bees. Here I'm cranking the extractor, which centrifuges the honey out. Behind me, Charlotte (who supervises a crew of work-study students year-round) is using a hot knife to slice wax caps off full honeycomb cells. We kept the honeycomb as intact as possible; the bees use it again after repairing any problems.

Frank Clayton (holding the extractor with his non-sticky hands) was my host; he led a bird walk that morning. So this was my day to finally learn about the birds and the bees.

Some of the honeycomb does get damaged; here Erica (from Pensacola) enjoys squeezing out the honey so both can be used.

150 pounds is a lot of honey!

The final sweet step.

Brasstown is a tiny place but they have a great gang of morris dancers! Wednesday evening's Garland and Border Morris practice drew at least 45 people, including these 8 musicians.

In Kentucky I passed a sign for Levi Jackson State Park. Having danced the Levi Jackson Rag, I had to detour to the park to look for the legendary pole whose presence in the middle of the dance floor necessitated the dance's wonderfully quirky choreography. After looking in two pole-less pavilions I hunted down the park office, where there was still an old-timer who knew about the dance. She told me the pole had been in the old lodge, which sadly burned down in 1995. Oh well, still a lovely park, and dance.

A Kentucky stone wall, very different from its New England cousins.

Jan Pearce hosted me in Berea. Two of her longtime friends are horses, and I was happy to help Jan re-position the electric fence so they could enjoy the new juicy grass instead of the old well-munched grass.

Jan had been traveling so Eddie and Appendix (she didn't pick the names...) had eaten all the grass in their current spot and were making do with hay.

Pounding in a fence post.

Moving the (long) wire to a new spot in the tall grass. (I was helping, really.)

Hooking up the solar juice for the electric fence.

I wanted a picture of the horses enjoying the new juicy grass, so Jan got them heading to the new area. When they saw the grass they got all excited and started racing ahead—straight through our carefully-built fence! (Apparently hard to see in the tall grass.) After some sheepish discussion we put things back together and everyone was happy.

Interstates are the same everywhere and not particularly stress free, so I took my time with three days of back roads through Indiana and Illinois. My favorites are the gray ones in the Rand McNally atlas, and sometimes I like to try my navigating prowess on unnumbered ones. After a couple initial triumphs I got hopelessly lost in twisty Indiana farm roads. Slow! But maybe that's part of the point of this trip. And I saw some cool things, like this fading barn completely surrounded by corn.

In Madison I enjoyed hanging out with Carol Ormand, and when Rick Nagler showed up with his son Owen we took in the Henry Vilas Zoo. It's a great zoo! Here they are with the local ostrich, who kept chomping on the fence.

Flamingos at the zoo!