So hard to find my way
Now that I'm all on my own
Van Morrison said that.
It did take me a few days to beat out a good rhythm for the trip.
Today is both a sightseeing and a travel day.
I will go for breakfast coffee and roll, work on blog, and late morning head out to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.
I may stay a day or even two.
Today is Sunday, September 16, 2018
This is my 159th consecutive daily posting.
Time is 4.25am and the weather at the Grand Canyon is 81 and partly sunny.
Last night I had a local dinner: chili and barbecued chicken. And a small hot fudge sundae.
Thursday was my first Motel 6.
Friday my second and tonight, Saturday, will be my third.
Probably would have booked it anyway.
Their slogan is “Lowest price of all national chains.”
Their slogan is not, “A bedbug for every room.”
Although that’s what I found last night.
Did not keep me awake although it did remind me of an unfortunately long time spent in Section 8 housing in the company of large numbers of the critters.
After the sleepless night, on Friday morning I head out to Salt Lake City early in the morning aware that the effect of sleep deprivation may present a real and present danger to my driving.
Fortunately, Route 20 west had many pull offs of which I availed myself nine times. Six of those times I closed my eyes for 5 minutes. Twice for ten and once for 15 minutes. And those cat naps were plenty to forestall any heavy-lidded driving.
The drive was fine.
Sorry I haven’t posted more pictures.
Hope to rectify that.
Don't forget to communicate with me @
Sally Chetwynd did:
I wish you hadn’t posted the picture of that black raspberry sundae. Black raspberry has always been my absolute favorite flavor, and it’s far too hard to find. The rivers of saliva now pouring from my mouth rival those that Hercules diverted to clean the Augean stables.
Let this be a lesson to me not to check out your blog before breakfast.
Traveling mercies to you, my friend,
Web Meister responds: Sometimes a large ice cream plain or concocted provides a great moment.
Of course, the photo to which you refer belongs to Howard.
Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital and the most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Utah.
With an estimated population of 190,884 in 2014, the city is the core of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a population of 1,153,340 (2014 estimate).
This region is a corridor of contiguous urban and suburban development stretched along an approximately 120-mile (190 km) segment of the Wasatch Front, comprising a population of 2,423,912 as of 2014. It is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin (the other is Reno, Nevada).
The world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is located in Salt Lake City and the city's street grid system is based on the temple constructed by the Church at its center.
The city was originally founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, and other followers of the Church, who were seeking to escape religious persecution in the mid-western United States.
These Mormon pioneers, as they would come to be known, at first encountered an arid, inhospitable valley that they then extensively irrigated and cultivated, thereby establishing the foundation to sustain the area's large population of today.
BTW: Apropos of my visit yesterday to Temple Square, they offered tours of Brigham Young’s home.
Generally, I don’t do tours of homes since I’m basically interested in using walk-arounds to ingest the gestalt of a city, I find myself in agreement with Maggie Smith in her role as Robert Crawley's mother Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, when she classically mocks the concept of tours of houses: “And this is where they sat for tea.”
Temple Square is the great walking route for the pedestrian-tourist.
Temple Square is a 10-acre (4.0 ha) complex, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), in the center of Salt Lake City, Utah.
In recent years, the usage of the name has gradually changed to include several other church facilities that are immediately adjacent to Temple Square.
Contained within Temple Square are the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument, and two visitors' centers.
The square was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964, recognizing the Mormon achievement in the settlement of Utah.
Striking about Salt Lake City is the height of the buildings (not skyscrapers) and the width of the streets (wide.)
Da Vinci wrote about the distances of buildings from each other and he would be thrilled by Salt Lake City.
Also striking about Salt Lake City is the imposing presence of the Wasatch Mountains, so close to the city as to add an aesthetic element and a fine accompaniment to driving to and from.
Despite the sleepless night the structure of this day was terrific.
I stayed in my hotel room until 10.00am working on the blog and on several pieces of personal business, all of which turned out well.
For example, running out of data, Verizon gave me 8gigs of additional data per month free for a year.
After the walk around Temple Square I had a passable lunch with a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
The five hour drive to St George was gorgeous, the Wasatch accompanying me all the way.
Knowing I was driving while St George was sweltering added a touch of smugness to the trip.
But I must say that the highlight of the drive, the Wow! was seeing a Starbuck’s logo on a sign for a rest area.
Four hours into the drive, dragging, and then the shot, the double shot of caffeine? What a morale booster.
Got into my room about 7pm and went out for dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant.
I have a bunch of photos from my trip into the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.
I have decided to slow my travel, take an extra day here in Williams, at the entry to the great site, and get caught up with the film.
And now for Howard.
(Or why I have never been a tourist on my native soil)
Based on notes from January 2008
I was born and raised for the first part of my life in New York City. Not quite to the age of consent, but long enough still to remember. I pride myself with a perverse pride in that I have yet to visit in 72 years any of the iconic attractions—dare I say tourist in proximity to that last noun?—of that city. The only destination of note I ever did visit was the World Trade Center back in the 90s, and indeed traveled to the roof of which tower they permitted such a thing. The rest is silence.
Pretty much the same pattern manifests itself in me while at my second home in France. Dodging the greatest attractions of Paris is easy. So far, no Eiffel Tower, no Pantheon, no Montmartre, no Montparnasse, etc. Why play with the destiny of these august destinations? In Provence, it's a little more difficult.
You drive around, even aimlessly, and the next thing you know, you're smack dab next to some ruin or some well-preserved monument that's been there for a couple thousand years and untold millions have gaped at after traveling kilometers untold out of their way just to see it. My own little village continually surprises me, embarrasses me with its unknown treasures. Indeed, hidden in the very word "embarrass" is the source of one major surprise. In this tiny out-of-the-way unpronounceable village was born the guy, Count Barras, who, essentially, arranged for Napoleon to be Emperor. Thanks a lot Count.
But even I will allow myself a grudging pride in every lichen covered stone that probably graced a wall several millennia ago, built to defend a Roman encampment. I'll even allow myself the fantasy of seeing well-muscled centurions, having spent a refreshing day beating a bunch of Gauls into submission, doffing their leather armor, watering their horses, kicking back for a well deserved snooze and a snootful from that skin of wine.
But what I won't allow myself is a visit, especially now that I can entertain the more sustaining and satisfying fantasy of being a genuine tax-paying, mortgage-holding French landowner, to any of the myriad sites and sights for which the French themselves scrupulously, if not sedulously, plan for months prior to the skimpy four weeks (out of a total of six, not to mention all the three-day weekends, and other jours feriés(bank holidays) of summer they get to go anywhere they please. They are hardly to be blamed that the whole damn country is chockablock full of tourist attractions. They've been collecting them, hoarding them, building more, year after year for centuries, millennia.
But you won't catch me going. No sirree. No Mont St. Michel for this homey. No Carcassone. OK, OK, so I and my late wife did go to this ridiculous pile, restored to an inch of its life, with only about two or three million anachronistic errors by a narcissist with the laughable name of Violette LeDuc (and this is a guy we're talking about), but I plead "tourist;" I was a tourist, honest. Owning a house there wasn't even a fantasy at the time. Same with a few other medieval rattletraps, mammoth stones picturesquely strewn about, the now eternally silent cloisters of a clutch of monasteries, now bereft of monastics. But I swear, I had never set my baby blues on one field of lavender — not until 2009. Still have never haunted a trail in the Luberon. Never dipped a pinkie, or a baby toe, in the miraculous fonts of Lourdes.
Most important of all, though it's practically right up the road a piece, until 2008, I never ogled the vaunted Gorges du Verdon, the so-called "Grand Canyon of France." Ha! I say. I say it to your face. Never ogled, boggled, or blanched at the (testimony abounds) splendors of the natural marvels of what, after all, I ask you, is anything more than some river meandering, do-se-do-ing its way like some whacked out switch-back mountain road, wearing the rocks away for what, like, thousands, maybe it's millions, of years? I mean it's nature doing its thing.
I do my thing. And my thing is not natural wonders.
But then there's the problem of house guests. Essentially a special variety of tourist, on whom I lavish affection, love, and not even grudging them gobbets of time, driving, shopping, cooking, whatever, and all for their pleasure. And all I need do is silently chew the insides of my cheeks to raw flesh in mortal anxiety that they might take it into their heads to go and see. Yup. The freakin' Gorges du Verdon.
Incidentally, let me disabuse you right now, should you ever head that way and are thinking, Verdon? Wasn't that some really famous battlefield qua slaughtering ground of the First World War? Like did they throw themselves over the cliffs or something? But no, that was Verdun, with a -u- and not an -o-, which is way away that way (gesturing north). The Verdon is a river. Just another river among the many in the Var. Like the Tarn and the Loup (which also have gorges—almost accidentally saw some of them a few years ago, I think it was the Loup, but I barely escaped, taking that fortuitous left turn out of a rond pointto Vence), but mightier and more majestic and God knows more famous. In the summer the roads are literally clogged there, people can't crawl slow enough to get to the Gorges du Verdon.
I'll admit to seeing the Verdon, at the very very end of it, because I've been many times to a little town called Moustiers Sainte Marie, a truly god-forsaken place, which I visited regularly before I wised up. I had a fondness and hence a weakness for my wife, and she liked it there, for the there. She certainly didn’t like it any more than I do for what's most famous about the place (aside from a chapel built halfway up a mountainside, which you access via steep stone steps cut into the same mountainside, the climbing of which is very much akin to being given a stress test by a sadistic cardiologist, or the strange ten pointed star—similar to a regulation normal five pointed star, except for some reason it has tiny little points between the usual large points—that some maniac prince in the famous medieval bygone era ordered strung across a, well there's no other word for it, gorge that runs smack through the center of this essentially kitschy little burg, and there's a legend about how the chain that holds up the star broke, so they had to string the damn thing back across the gorge, because the prince was sentimental and made a pledge—it's still there so you can tell I'm not making this up; I'd show you a picture, but it would be too shameful and embarrassing for a serious photographer like myself, even though I have a very nice snap that takes care of the whole nauseating touristic thing: the chapel, the star, even the chain, and the gorge of course). But what Moustiers Sainte Marie is famous for is its faience,which is a fancy French word for dinnerware. Which is all, like, white with tiny hand-painted figurines wearing cute Fragonard type outfits from the eighteenth century doing quaint homey eighteenth century type stuff, like hanging out, or hunting grouse or pheasants, or butchering pigs. Stuff like that. Anyway, it's the kind of stuff my mother, may her soul be at peace in heaven—2009 was her centennial by the way—would like. They still make it the same way. Big euros. And the old stuff looks exactly like the new stuff, only it's even bigger euros because it's old.
But the town is nice, in a patently cute, old-fashioned kind of way, and you can manage to squeeze off a few good shots along the way, what with all the rocks and rills, and little runlets and rapids, and really tall stone walls, which are about as troublesome and puzzling as that star on a chain—like, why did they build them?
And I have had house guests, and, it was past the winter solstice, the days do grow longer then, and you gotta' find things for people to do. We had a reprieve for a couple days, because we had a friend of theirs, guest of a guest, which may mean something, but in this case, what it meant was good, because he was and is a good guy, and we had to piss away a whole two days just picking Jean up and eating big time in Aix-en-Provence when we did, and shopping, and doing good solid American stuff like that. So the Gorges du Verdon went way to the back of my mind. But all good diversions must end. And Jean had to go back to Paris, and I'm sorry to say, Bob and Naomi didn't forget the Gorges. Not for one second as it turned out.
Then the weather bailed me out. It rained for three days, which it almost never does, certainly not in January. But all bad things must end, and soft-hearted basically masochistic fool that I am, the next thing I knew, sun playing tag with clouds in the legendary blue skies of Provence, I was driving north toward Moustiers. And then en route, Bob being Bob, and me being me who can refuse my friends nothing, Bob, “Gee How, if you don't mind (I hear this particular combination of words and my brains turn to a frigid gel), maybe we could take this road and take a look directly at the [loud minor chord] Gorges du Verdon.”
So I took the right with the sign to a town I never noticed before and had my own stars been set right, and had I lived a more righteous existence, I would never have had to notice, Aiguine. But we plowed right on through that sucker and kept going. Gorges du Verdon, and destiny, right this way. There was one more precipitous turn onto the corniche above Aiguine and a road sign smiled at me, a sign I had never seen before. It was entirely pictorial, as no words were needed. It showed a tire with chains on it. I don't know the French for tire chains anyway. But with a song in my heart, and knowing I had remembered to take my anxiety meds that morning, we plunged ahead. I shouldn't use the word "plunge" of course, because I know what a corniche is (Alfred Hitchcock made good use of them in several films, including "To Catch a Thief," because driving along a corniche is like instant cinematic suspense and terror). And we drove and drove and switched back and forth, with increasingly more thrilling views, until it was clear we need not actually drive up as high as the clouds, which were, in fact, literally enveloping the tops of the cliffs overlooking the Gorges. So we stopped at a turn-out, facing a sign that said 967 meters, referring to the elevation.
And, well, what's the use? It's time for the words to stop, because they do, indeed, literally fail.
What we saw were some (I’ll admit) magnificent views, along with a few glimpses of Aiguine (and its charming castle, semi-charming soccer field, and views of the town perched high above the Lac de Sainte Croix, into which the Verdon River now debouches (the very very end of the river that I referred to above), all easily visible, as are the high walls of the Gorge, as you cross the bridge that separates the Var, the départementmy house is in, from the Alpes de Haute Provence, the département that Moustiers is in, because, try as I might to avoid it, we ended up there for lunch. So above are a couple of the more palatable pictures I shot in the bowels of the Gorge.
I will say in closing that I'm not sure of which I am more proud, losing at last my Gorges du Verdon virginity, or taking some pretty interesting shots with a tiny little Canon camera that costs less than two hundred bucks, is much smaller than a pack of cigarettes, and really hardly deserves to be called a camera at all. And if you’re interested in seeing more of the photos, you’ll have to let me, Howard, know (just speak to Dom)… I’m the other guy here, though only virtually, on the Existential Auto-trip. —Howard Dinin. © 2018.