Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

Winning Winter

It has been months since I’ve been able to sit a write, partially due to a computer failure, and mostly due to a long stretch of work and life business. The high and lowlights from the Chill:

• Patriots win Super Bowl LI with impossible comeback. Down 28-3 with 2:00 left in the 3rd quarter, it looked bleak (and that was being optimistic). But some textbook mental toughness and Tom Brady being the greatest ever, they complete the most fantastic comeback in Super Bowl history. Legendary.

• I have been dealing with a Lyme disease diagnosis and have been through several rounds of anti-biotics. I was very sick and my right knee was wildly engorged and immobile for about a week before I went to the doctor and asked to be tested for Lyme. I spend a fair amount of time in The Hudson Valley, the Lyme disease capital of the world, and have pulled ticks off of my skin at various times, so I have been somehow expecting this affliction for years and have likely had a relatively mild case of it for quite a while. While the AB treatment was effective in resurrecting me from bedridden cripple, my knee has never fully recovered and I recently visited the preeminent expert on the disease, Dr. Zhang, who prescribed me herbs in pills and acupuncture. It is, unfortunately, something I will likely have to monitor indefinitely.

• Our president is a disgraceful embarrassment, hellbent on destroying our government, our environment, our health, our science, our education, and our Truth. All of this for the price of enriching himself and corporate profiteers. It is simply horrifying and we probably have not seen the bottom yet.

• But Skiing! Big snow and great skiing in Vermont and Utah! A couple of storms brought the goods to Vermont just in time for our arrival in February and we were able to enjoy a few days of skiing. Magic Mountain was nearly perfect and for the first time in 3 years, Black Chair was carrying people uphill. I even got to ski the never-open lift-line trail, Black Magic, which is as challenging as anything on a New England trail map. We spent a few hours on Sunday at Okemo with Ivy and she was actually managing to keep herself upright on her own skis, which was a dramatic improvement from our previous attempts and made me incredibly happy to be sharing time on the slopes with her! Monday (Presidents’ Day) we went for a family hike/skin/snowshoe on Mt. Ascutney, which was closed for years but has recently been acquired by the town and reopened with a free rope-tow and backcountry access. It is a perfect place for our family to explore with the kids in backpacks and I hope to spend more time there in the future!

And then Utah! Last winter, as I came to the realization that my ski season was truly sad and unfulfilling, attributable to a new baby and some of the consistently worst conditions the East has ever seen, I proposed that Alaina and I treat ourselves to a Western ski trip next year. After roping our parents into babysitting duties, we planned three days in the most accessible spot with some of the best mountains to play in: Salt Lake City. Snowbird is as steep and burly as any lift-served terrain in the world; Solitude and Brighton have endlessly varied terrain; Powder Mountain has zero frills and infinite vibe. All three days were 50 degree bluebird days with soft spring corn. While I may fantasize about storms of snow, the carefree weather that we received was truly ideal for this easy escape and perfect date trip.

Luckily, two days after we returned from our trip, a gigantic blizzard pulverized the Northeast and set up Stowe with four feet of snow, just in time for the annual Stoweravaganza. Saturday involved a backcountry tour with blissful, effortless turns through the trees followed by delightful apres-ski pizza and beers and music and friends in the greatest classic ski house I’ve ever seen. Sunday was Ivy’s day, and she skied with me, which is, again, as much happiness as I will ever experience on the slopes. I feel like I get to begin my ski life all over again, sharing this activity with her, and hopefully she will love it even a little bit as much as I do!

• It is now officially Spring and I can feel the warmth approaching rapidly. Windows are opening and spending time outside doesn’t require battle gear anymore. We are shifting modes and new activities are on the horizon. This Winter was challenging, painful, exciting, euphoric and beautiful. I look forward to tomorrow and every day I have remaining to enjoy this life fully!


Brentrance and Brexit

I woke up this morning in my Brooklyn bed for the first time in 10 days. It was 4:00 am when Ivy rolled in, roaring to start her day before the sun rose (acknowledging it from our bedroom window – Look Dada! So beautiful! – when the sky began its awesome daily hue evolution), experiencing the easy side of jet lag and its 5 hour shift from the previous week and a half in England…

The impetus of the trip was cousin Piera’s wedding, which was an absolutely stunning camping party at a farm in Devon. While we were granted a room as a nod to our toddler/baby situation, the tent city that grew was impressive and the setting was divine. The ceremony involved a picnic with an all-guest grand waltz in a field by a lake and I was incredibly honored to be asked to play guitar and lead the crowd in a singalong of Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want Is You“. Everyone contributed to the food preparation as well as the set up and strike of wedding tent and all associated furniture and equipment for late night dance party in the barn. The wedded couple, Piera and Andy are phenomenal people dedicated to sharing their passion for Arts and Sciences and their event was creative, unique, collaborative and beautiful.

We tacked on a week in Sydling St. Nicholas, Dorset, with G and Grand, because they are two of the most supreme beings on this planet. At 93, they have their physical limitations, but they are wise and highly conscious. They love each other in the deepest way and spread it through 4 generations of family. They define divine perfection.

Brexit tension was building when we arrived and on Thursday, G and Grand trudged down to the village hall to cast their ballots. Obviously, they voted to Remain in the European Union, which they witnessed from its nascence, from the despair of bleakest war to the hope that intertwined cultures and economies would eliminate the ceaseless and senseless battles that have scarred the continent for millennia. At 10:00, the polls closed and they began counting the votes of whether to remain in or leave the EU. At about 5:00, Miles woke up and I will never forget the quick intake of breath that Alaina made when she read the New York Times notification that they had voted to leave. I felt sick with fear and loneliness, sadness for all of my family who will be directly affected by this and for the rest of the world, which will suffer as well. It was a loss with incalculable costs and for what? So a few politicians could jockey for power? Cheap fears and closed minds with no compassion for greater humanity led to this result. Many people may be thrilled by this breakup, but none of them could possibly explain what will actually happen to the country, the continent and the world because its implications are infinitely bigger than a binary in/out choice on a piece of paper. We will have to wait and see, but in 3 days the news has had fairly devastating economic impacts all over the world, with trillions of dollars vanishing from markets and portfolios.

Ultimately, it is inconsequential when considered against simple love, which we toasted many times last week, for P&A’s wedding, our 11th anniversary, and G and Grand’s 70th anniversary (Congratulations!). While I do spend a lot of time and energy focused on politics, it actually exists outside the realm of my real life and all that is truly important in my quotidian existence. They play games for power while I play for love.

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My grandma’s health was declining and we knew that her time was nearing its end, so we went to see her in Naples, Florida this weekend. Mom and Dad plus Andrew and Caitlin’s families arrived on Thursday and had early-bird dinner with her on Friday, but we got in around 1:30 that night and missed what turned out to be her last meal. She died that night and I never saw her.

I loved visiting her in Florida growing up (great candy dish) and she would make the trip up to Boston or Cape Cod in the Summer regularly until a few years ago. Every time I saw her, I learned a little more about her history and was always amazed to hear snippets of her life from before I was born and even before my mom was born. She always seemed so incredibly old to me but she never acted like it. She had been through so many different phases in her life and described everything with a vigor of experience that I can only now begin to understand with the birth of my own children. She was witty, clever, friendly and loving; in short, a perfect grandma.

Over the past few years, I am told, she began to lose touch with reality and suffered from classic elderly dementia, forgetting names, faces, places, and her own sense of self. It was a sad and lonely period in her life and one that scares me deeply. This phase of her life and subsequent end is a haunting reminder that consciousness is our greatest gift and one that is absolutely, temporally limited. My memories of her stretch back as far as I can remember, to the earliest days of my awareness, and one day they, too, will cease to exist. All I can hope for is that someone (Ivy’s and Miles’ kids!) remembers me as sweetly as I remember her.

With eternal love, goodbye grandma.

Labor Day

What a Summer for this guy! I currently sit in one of my favorite spots in the known universe: Eventide Cabin on Mt. Desert Island. Acadia is a personal paradise and spending time here with my wife, child and parents is very high on my who/what/where triangulation rankings.

I have been consistently scoring very well this Summer, packed with fantastic weekends around the Northeast: The Land, Bellport, Osterville, Vermont, Maine, and even a few in Brooklyn; Ivy and I rolled all over town on my bike and explored beaches and amusement parks (Coney Island!), swimming pools and water playgrounds (Sunset Park! Brooklyn Bridge Park!), sports events (Cyclones! NYCFC! US Open!), concerts (Prospect Park!) and celebrated her birthday with a backyard BBQ bash. I have enjoyed freedom from work over the past three months and have spent it with my daughter as well as I could. She may not remember our adventures, but I had so many experiences with her that I will never forget! Alaina and I spent every weekend together, which never happened when she worked in theater, and we had two incredible theater date nights, seeing Cymbeline in Central Park and Hamilton on Broadway, the latter of which set a new gold standard for me; simply the most exciting theatrical experience of my life. I also played a round on the best golf course I have ever seen at Fishers Island and are at my new favorite restaurant, The Honey Paw in Portland, established by my awesomely talented brother. 

And now I sit overlooking Frenchman’s Bay in one of my most tranquil moments of the Summer (Ivy is napping!) and reminiscing on time passed and time ahead: Labor Day weekend is always bittersweet as my return to labor is imminent. I have great work to go back to, but I will definitely miss my freedom and days of Ivy. We’re on to Fall!
  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

             

From The Place I Am Sitting

On a balcony, overlooking the Calle in Barcelona, I am thoroughly enjoying my amazing European vacation. There is a vibrant street life and I am listening to unfamiliar languages and seeing a larger humanity in a longer time-frame; Ancient Traditions and Relics with Futuristic Thought and Style.

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Two days ago, I found myself at Camp Nou, where local heroes FC Barcelona were taking on Manchester City in a Champions League match. I couldn’t have been further away from the pitch in the 99,000 seat stadium, but it was one of the most exciting sports experiences of my life. It was all about the match; everyone was there to watch the action. After the quick initial fanfare, it was 90 minutes of pure sport. A Competitive Focus and Flow that evades most forms of athletics. The one tiny concession stand only sold hotdogs, didn’t sell beer and was, it seemed, only for tourists; at halftime, the locals pulled out homemade baguette sandwiches. During action, the crowd attention was intense. I had a wonderful running commentary in Catalan next to me, which I am sure was exactly what I was thinking but in a language I don’t understand. At one point, I was chastised by a fan behind me for jumping out of my seat too soon on a Neymar breakaway and my American arsenal of sports cheering was useless: I quickly learned that whistling is reserved for bad or missed calls and the typical two-note taunt that we blast at opposing players is highest praise reserved for the revered one: Messi.

In a Barca 1 – 0 victory, the lone goal was a gorgeous looping volley over the keeper on a perfect 40 yard assist by the Great Lionel Messi. I have seen many great athletes in many sports, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player so obviously on such a different level as everyone else in the game. He controls the ball deftly and makes others miss it comically. He is a wizard.

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The past 48 hours in this city have been exciting and refreshing, and I look forward to another 36 before departing on an overland journey through the Pyrenees to Borde Neuve, France, where we will bask in the stunning vineyard scenery and drink pure wine. I am already reminiscing about the first 96 hours, spent with Great G and Grand in Sydling St. Nicholas, England, with the absolutely incredible Buckland family. This vacation is so unreal and beautiful it seems like a fantasy, but sitting on this balcony overlooking Spanish culture, I know that it is just the lovely life I lead! Of course, no matter where we are, the best aspect of vacation is spending all of my time with Amazing Alaina and Incredible Ivy; I am so blessed to be able to love these two and share their company around the world!

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Busy

The fact that I have not written here in over two months speaks to how fast time has accelerated recently. I am working more than I have ever worked and doing my best to learn new skills and techniques of teaching older kids. It has been a challenging period for me, but I am enjoying it immensely. Seeing the musical abilities of children rapidly improving through the elementary years is awesome and inspiring!

Unfortunately, this schedule has made Ivy time increasingly rare. During the week, I see her from too-early in the morning until I leave for work. She is usually asleep when I return, so I cherish the hour or so I do spend with her, even in my typical morning zombie mode. Because of my limited Ivy-hours, I enjoy the weekend even more than I did when I spent those days in party zombie mode. Last weekend was a bit of a throwback to the olden days of my younger self; a Friday night Halloween kids parade followed by 5th Ave bar crawl and a Saturday night with Dean Ween band at Brooklyn Bowl, and a trip to Foxboro with Dad and Bro on Sunday where the Patriots stomped all over the Broncos and reasserted their dominance in the NFL. It was an epic party weekend with a confluence of amazing events! This weekend was more low-key and the past three days were wonderfully family-centric, sending me back to work tomorrow with great memories of time shared with my favorite people. I had Friday off and took Ivy on a tour of Brooklyn parks; we took a walk in Prospect Park, then Sunset Park and the brand new Bush Terminal Piers Park, where Ivy was recognized as the first baby visitor! Saturday was a Geisler/Taylor family adventure to the beautiful Storm King Sculpture Park and a trip to The Bronx Zoo and Sunday was a stroll through local Greenwood Cemetery and some quality time with Ivy’s bestie, Maisie. October weekends included a Vermont excursion and celebration of Grandma’s 90th birthday with four generations of Herters! Of all the amazing things I get to do in my life, there is nothing better than simply sharing time with Alaina and Ivy!

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Summer’s End

It has been creeping ever closer, and yesterday was D-day: the start of school. It begins and Summer ends, with all the freedom and travels and family time replaced by institutional regulations. I have always loved my schools and the learning and teaching that occurs within the walls, but will eternally dread the return to regimented schedule!

Summertime was fantastic while it lasted, and we left Brooklyn every weekend but one. Bellport, Warwick, Osterville, Chester, Portland and a phenomenal final week in Bar Harbor made Ivy’s first Summer a Northeast classic. I love these places so much and loved introducing Ivy to the world that I have grown up in!

Although the change is abrupt, this school year is highly anticipated with a particularly exciting new job involved: I will be working full-time at Poly Prep teaching all music classes Nursery through 4th grade. I have been teaching for 12 years and almost all of it has been with children ages 0-5; now I am working with kids twice as old. They change! I hope to learn as much as I teach and look forward to sharing music with these young humans!

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Summer of Ivy

Summer is always densely scheduled and the first half of 2014 has been jam-packed with great adventures and a World Cup background! We had our first family camp at The Backyard in Vermont and are headed up again this weekend; Ivy seemed to love being in the woods and although she has requirements that we have never dealt with in camping before, she was remarkably low-maintenance and fun to be with! We have attended two more beautiful weddings: in Brooklyn for Paul and Lindsey then Bartol Island, Maine for Patrick and Betsey. Celebrating Love is the best and most important reason! After a one-year hiatus, The Land Party resumed and Land Band rocked it! In a series of painful events (holding my baby in a non-ergonomic fashion then falling off my bike trying to ride one-handed), my wrists were incapacitated and I was unable to play bass, but Family Fun bassist Ricky heroically stepped in… We have been to Bellport, swimming, sailing and playing with added bonus Barcelona brother Kevin in a rare appearance Stateside. For my entire life, Cape Cod July 4th has been one of the greatest family weekends; celebrating my Father’s birthday with fireworks and lobster and extended Taylor clan has now evolved to include the next generation, with Lincoln, Oliver and Ivy, while the cousins have grown from babyhood to college in my memory! How amazing is life?!?!

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Colorado Taylors

Ivy took her second plane trip this weekend and she did phenomenally well! Despite a few piercing shrieks (including several that echoed through the cavernous tent at Denver International Airport) she was a great companion through the rigors of travel. She was also supremely well behaved at the wedding and reception–especially considering we completely abandoned any semblance of her normal routine and schedule. We were there for cousin Anna and her dude Kaulin, celebrating their love in Littleton, Colorado, and the Taylor turnout was very impressive, including Mommom and her four sons, their spouses and 11/12 of the cousins! It is a truly wonderful family and although full congregations are rare, I always appreciate their company. In Denver, we visited the Zoo, took a Stranahan’s Whiskey distillery tour and enjoyed the novel experience of browsing a recreational pot shop. The local scenery was awesome and the long weekend afforded us extra time to enjoy the surroundings, taking several hikes through the stunning rocks that jut from the plains at the very base of the Rocky Mountains. I am always inspired by these tectonic masses and look forward to visiting again in the winter with a few days on my skis!

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Dorset Bucklands

Ivy is an international traveler! We brought her to England to meet her great-grandparents and to experience the idyllic nature of her middle-namesake, Dorset. In the tiny village of Sydling St. Nicholas, nestled in a valley of rolling hills and farmland, life is beautifully simple. Our days involved long walks through the village and surrounding farms, passing through pastures of sheep, cows and horses with our baby in a carrier on my chest. We would walk for hours then return for teatime and delicious meals around a table that expanded as more family arrived daily. The Buckland clan forged by G and Grand is an eclectic family of artists and engineers, doctors and scientists who all share the incredible warmth and love of the matriarch and patriarch. The great grandparents are a testament to eternal love and a true inspiration to all; I thought many times this week how amazing it must be to look out across a table of your children and their children and their children’s children and I hope to someday in the twilight of my life have the same experience. To think about 7 month old Ivy becoming a grandmother is absolutely incredible and puts in perspective the amazing and infinite generational nature of life.

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