My daughter and I recently took a day off and went for a walkabout in the city. We had no plans and no agenda. We didn't even know where we were going. We were just going.
We rode the train into the city, got off when we felt like it and started walking. We visited a used bookstore with books stacked to the ceiling. I've never seen so many paperbacks in my life. We visited an art museum and saw Rembrandts and Blochs and all kinds of really inspiring pieces of art. Do you know how cool it is to stand in front of a 500 year old painting? It was really fun - we saw paintings worth $450,000.00
All that inspiration made us hungry and we decided we'd stop at the next eating joint we saw that looked interesting or quirky. It ended up being Lambs cafe. Lambs is well over 100 years old and the decor is straight out of the 1920's. If Derringer or Capone swaggered out of the back room with a flapper girl under one arm and a tommy gun in the other he would not look out of place in Lambs. We ordered eggs benedict and hot chocolate. Both delicious. The hot chocolate was swimming in whipped cream. We found out later that Lambs is a popular place for politicians and downtown businessmen and that more than one deal has been made over eggs benedict.
We checked out the Lion House, downtown construction, the Gateway and walked until our feet hurt then ended the day on a glorious note...
I had herd of a magical place that serves THE ORIGINAL pastrami burger. I, like George Costanza, am a connoisseur of the Salted Cured Meats (WITH capitols). So we ventured to the mighty Crown Burger to have a stab at what has been praised as the finest burger on planet earth. I'd never been there before.
The praise is right. If you do nothing else before you die you absolutely MUST have a Crown Burger. Seriously. The only regret you will have is that you haven't been going there your whole life.
The Collinsville Axe Factory straddles the Farmington River in north-western Connecticut. In it's heyday it produced it's own hydro-electric power and the factory made axes and hammers that were shipped all over the world. Today it's empty except for a few struggling artists running small studios in the dark corners of the factory.
The factory supported the small town of Collinsville, built into the hillside above the river. It reminds you of something from a Washington Irving story. Nooks and crannies in the woods beg exploration, the river lulls you as it laps the granite bank and candles illuminate pane windows framed with colonial shutters. Tall hardwoods diffuse the sunlight and render a warm fuzz on everything in sight. The cemetery, complete with crypts, obelisks, massive tombstones and rusting wrought-iron fences looks down from the hilltop. The stone steeple of the church and smokestack from the factory are all that break the treetops in the valley below.
It's one of the most calming and soothing places I've ever been. Everything is familiar: the streets, houses, the riverbank – even the sandwich shop. It all invites you to stop and...tarry. I spent three days shooting rivers, bridges, old buildings, cemeteries, houses and historic districts.
It was one of the best three days. It felt like going home.
I recently dug a bunch of photos out of the archives. Actually, the photos are only a year old, but in terms of the camera and my abilities they might as well be from a lifetime ago.
I've since replaced my camera and lenses and I now shoot exclusively in manual mode. All photos were taken with a Nikon D70s in automatic, so the camera made a lot of decisions for me. The ISO was set at 1000 (who know WHY?), so the images are grainy, but it adds mood and I kinda like it.
These images were shot along the Rhode Island coastline in mid October. Only weeks before, the beaches were packed with people – the Kennedy's and Carnegie's (and the like) call this home in the summer. The annual migration of the nations wealthiest and most political families was over and we were completely alone on the beach for 3 days.
To all three (Ok, maybe five if I count my kids) of my followers, I have finally moved my website over to a new ISP and gave it a face lift. There are some new, recent images that I like. You might to.
When I was a kid, M.A.S.H. was the biggest thing on television. My dad watched it faithfully. One of the characters, Colonel Sam Flagg, was a strange and mentally imbalanced intelligence officer who would frequently appear out of nowhere and then disappear in an equally mysterious manner. He was like the wind - no one saw him come, no one saw him go.
I have a friend who has been traveling the globe rather extensively in the last few years and he showed up unexpected in my office the other day. I was unjamming the printer, back to the door, and I turned around and there he was. Just like Colonel Flagg. Scared the hell out of me. After my heart rate dropped, the kid in me kicked in. I bailed on work and we clipped bolts and pulled cobbles in our old stomping grounds – Maple Canyon.
We've both put on 10 years and twice as many pounds since the last time we were really "active" climbers. It makes me a little sad to think of how it used to be. Man, we were on fire. Now we are "old guys" surrounded by a generation of scrawny, super-fit teen uber-climbers with attention deficit. They belay with one hand, text with the other, and send 5.13 like it's casual jogging. My friend, who was always stronger, bolder and more cut that me (and still is) is now past 30 with a wife, kids and a career. And it shows. I guess we really are twice the men we used to be. The consolation is that we were pulling hard when the current gen was still in pampers and they are earning bragging rights on routes we bolted and established 15 years ago. It's STILL cool to be first, isn't it?
The important thing is, that as short lived as the afternoon was I had a ball. And if climbing days and coolness come as Coloner Flagg then I'll embrace this new oldness and ride the wind. And turn off the cell phone.
My friends kids are part of Wild Child – a local gig that teaches kids the ins and outs of being a "rock" musician. I was a band geek and never did anything as cool as play the electric guitar or sing, but I can appreciate the amount of work and dedication it takes to pull off a good musical performance.
I was proud of them. They must have performed in front of 3,000 people - a scary thing when your that young. My hat is off to them.