Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

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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Welcome Spring!

After a two-week vacation in which I logged 7 ski days (@Wildcat, Black, Burke, Stowe and Magic!) I am ready to spring into some warm weather, and today was the first T-shirt day of the year. The windows are wide open and I hope I don’t have to close them until October (early Spring naïveté). While I worship the winter and its white alpine bounty, I might have a harder time appreciating it without the warmth of summer. Being outside can be beautiful or miserable, depending on surroundings and weather, so anytime the factors align pleasantly, I am sure to enjoy it.

This summer will obviously include some great outdoor time, although we don’t have any exotic foreign trips planned. Scheduling anything outside our vicinity this summer will be a challenge as we are due for the unpredictable adventure of our daughter’s Birth! July 29 is the best guess at a date, but we are dealing with nature here, which is always full of surprises…

Like our global travels of pre-parenting, I am thrilled at the idea of venturing into the unknown for new experiences and daily challenges. While researching these trips is always informative, it rarely provides a sense of what it is actually like to be there and live a day-to-day existence; I have been working with children for 12 years and I still have no concept of what fatherhood is, but I will learn as I go, and learning is always good. I will make mistakes and I will acknowledge them to become a better parent for my child, who deserves the greatest life I am capable of providing for the education and enrichment of my own life that she provides. I can’t wait to meet her…

 

New Year’s Family

Two weeks of Holiday time with friends and family is a perfect end and beginning to the year. We went transatlantic to the tiny village of Sydling St. Nicholas in Dorset, England for the first week to spend time with the wonderful Buckland family. Although it rained every day (we saw the record broken for rainiest year ever in England) we were not deterred from some relaxing and inspiring jaunts into the countryside and seaside as well as some cozy, fireplace warmed evenings with great food and wine. We flew home and spent one night in our Brooklyn bed before driving through a slippery snowstorm to reach Strong Country in Mt. Holly, Vermont. Before leaving for England, the potential skiing looked bleak, but I watched in amazement as a Giant Nor’easter blew through the mountains and coated them with all they needed and then some. To ski the fresh powder I just drove through, I made a pilgrimage to the myth, the legend, the time-capsule Magic Mountain. This is the place to be for steeps and freshies in Vermont. Unfortunately, the only operational chair broke moments after arrival and we were turned away in sheer disappointment… Bromley and Okemo ended up satisfying my search for skiable snow and I even went Nordic for a day at Viking in the shadow of Magic. I had never cross country skied before and I loved it! It’s hard to believe that I spend so much mental energy on skiing and had never enjoyed the horizontal version.

The final stop on our tour was with the Taylors at my childhood home in Newton, Massachusetts. We spent time together every day growing up (maybe more time than we needed!) but these days shared time is rare. The siblings all live in different cities and have asymmetric schedules and family-in-law demands, so synchronized orbital alignment is always cherished. A few hours or days to catch up personally beyond phone calls and texts is required maintenance for any relationship and appreciated even more with loving family. These past two weeks surrounded by my favorite humans has been a constant reminder of how lucky I am.

Alaina and I also had the pleasure of sharing some exciting news with everyone: we are expecting a baby in July! The prospect of becoming parents is exciting (and terrifying!) but I know that we have the most supportive families to help us transition into this new world. I hope that we can foster a rich and joyful environment to grow up in and that our child someday feels the same way about his or her family that we do.

Long Trail

The Long Trail was the first long-distance hiking trail in the US, running 280 miles through Vermont along the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada. I have spent time on the trail before doing day hikes, but have always wanted to make an extended adventure of it. So last Thursday, Alaina and I packed our bags and drove up to our established start point near Killington and set out on a five day journey. We have done lots of camping in our day, but most of it has been out of a car without the need to carry everything, so efficient packing was crucial. We stuffed a food bag with dried fruits and nuts, oatmeal, coffee and tea, peanut butter and jelly, bread, tuna, pasta, cheese, dry sausage, soup, Indian meals, chocolate and cookies. I constructed a stove out of a soda can and denatured alcohol, and we packed a tent and sleeping bags plus a few articles of clothing. A map and a guidebook showed us the way and we were off, leaving our car at 4:45 on Thursday and marching into the woods…

I love to travel, especially to unfamiliar places where I am constantly challenged by logistical and cultural differences. It is mind expanding to live temporarily in a new way and place. This trip was different. We knew exactly what we were going to be doing every day: lots of walking and some eating. Every night: sleeping. That’s all there was. I turned my phone off to avoid any contact with information away from the trail so the only dispatches I received were from fellow hikers and usually consisted of nice views and good water sources. All the noise from my highly connected world vanished and I was left with just survival to focus on: to sustain myself with food and water, stay safe and keep walking until an appropriate exit. It was mind-clearing and centering to be in the wilderness.

We walked 48 miles over five days and camped in four beautiful locations along the way. I had initially envisioned a slightly longer journey, but we found it slow going up and down 3 or 4 mountains a day, and around the third day I was reminded of one reason I love Vermont so much; in my four years at Middlebury, I learned to slow down and savor the days, but when I moved to New York I was caught up in the speed and efficiency of the city. I adapted to the pace of my new environment and lost a bit of my laid-back VT style. The hike came down to a choice of rushing towards a goal or slowing down to enjoy our surroundings. Accepting a slower pace meant more flexibility in our nightly stops, which led to some spectacular campsites with better energy and morale.

Sometimes in our travels, water is a constant source of stress. Tap water in many parts of the world is toxic, which can leave us very thirsty from poor planning. This hike was similar in that respect, where supplies needed constant replenishment, lest we find ourselves dry. There were many streams, but the presence of Giardia is a constant threat, so the water needed to be purified. We brought a UV light filter, which worked for two days before running out of batteries (rookie mistake to not have extras), so we had to boil our caches, which was a huge time and fuel suck. We were extremely lucky to find a spring on day four that basically solved our issues. It certainly makes you think about how much we take for granted our absolute greatest and most important resource in the world.

On the fifth day, we hiked out, conveniently crossing the Lincoln gap road, where we stuck out our thumbs and hopped in any car headed our direction that would stop for us. It took three rides from generous strangers to get back to where we had parked. We ate a meal we had been talking about since walking into the woods at the Irish Pub at The Inn at Long Trail then stiffly stuffed ourselves into the car and drove back to the city, from the Forest to the Jungle.

This was one of the most physically demanding activities I’ve ever participated in. I am still sore from the thousands of steps I took on the trail. Alaina, at 2/3 of my body size, was tested even more and was an incredible trooper through the hike. While I am always impressed with her ability to trek on, I am simply amazed at her camping abilities. She is a stage manager by trade and organizing necessary gear, toiletries, food and water is a complex task that requires logic and planning that she commands so well. She is, simply put, the best friend and camping partner anyone could ever hope for. The best part of this adventure for me was spending all those hours alone with her; I love my friends and family so much, but sometimes they can distract me from the person I love the most. It was an incredible experience to share with her and I am so grateful that I married someone willing to walk into the wild with me!

Middlebury Snow Bowl

At Sunrise

Mars!

Humans built a machine and sent it to Mars.

I am impressed by relatively simple technologies like cars, phones, cameras and computers, all of which have embedded themselves in our lives over the past century. The “Curiosity” rover takes all of these amazing inventions from our planet and brings them to another. The effort and cost is astronomical, but exploring our universe is priceless. We may not discover life on Mars, but we have reached beyond our own mortal, earth-bound lives to expand our celestial consciousness and seek understanding of our greater place in the eternal mystery of our existence.

Touchdown!

The Landing at JPL

Panoramic Photo of Mars

Good Times

I love leisure! I think that I am pretty good at enjoying myself but this past month has tested me and pushed my fun limits. We spent some time with Taylor family on the beach and golf course in Cape Cod, spent a weekend in New Hope, Pennsylvania for a tubing adventure, hosted one of the smoothest Land Parties ever, enjoyed Coney Island for a ballgame and rollercoasters, spent a week with 10 friends at a villa in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and attended a beautiful wedding in West Glacier, Montana!

I feel incredibly fortunate to maintain a lifestyle conducive to these activities and to have such amazing friends and family to share them with.

 

Summmmmer

Summer always arrives hot and heavy. My work schedule declines (to 3 1/2 days a week) but my social schedule explodes to the point where I have even less free time! This summer’s weekends are booked solid with great adventures and the next two months are bursting with potential goodness…

June 11 brought a great start to Summer ’12 with the arrival of my nephew, Lincoln Eustace Taylor! Andrew and Rachel instantly became amazing parents dedicated to offering their child the best life he could dream of… Lincoln was born into battle; within 24 hours was having an MRI and he is scheduled for brain surgery in his first month. It has been a difficult emotional journey for everyone, but I feel good about him and believe that this experience will make us all stronger. This is how a great hero is made!

And in the midst of this chaos, Andrew has built his first restaurant! Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine opens tomorrow and is poised to become a beautiful and amazing addition to the already wonderful dining scene there. Alaina and I are headed north tomorrow for the grand delicious unveiling…

Last weekend was another birth, of sorts, as Alaina’s latest stage-managed production completed a workshop run of “Here Lies Love”, a new musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, at Mass MoCA. I was in North Adams, MA for three days and got to enjoy some beautiful hikes in the region (including a couple of backcountry ski trails on Mt. Greylock that I hope to return to in powdery delight) and experienced the show for the first time. It is a truly amazing piece of theater about former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos. The Audience stands in a central pit while the action takes place on four-foot tall moving platforms swirling around them. The music throbs, the lights blare, the projections flash and the actors dance with a personally riveting and morally ambiguous story that makes for great entertainment.

Lincoln

Thunderbolt!

Big Bend, Thunderbolt

Sol Lewitt at Mass MoCA

Farewell Winter

I welcome the end of Winter because Summer is sweet, but I always feel a tinge of remorse to see the snow melt away and know that I won’t be back on skis for another eight months. The season typically ends with some Spring slush runs and over the last 10 days I have experienced this transition at Stowe, where we were skiing over huge dirt patches in 70 degree sunshine in the brightest ski attire we could find, and in Whitefish, Montana, where I went to visit my college roommate, Marty and his family.

The first day actually had mid-winter conditions and we hiked into the Canyon for some delicious powder and had a day of hoots and hollers stomping through 3000 acres of stashes at Big Mountain. The temperature was close to freezing and as a snow junkie, that is a crucial threshold… The next day, Spring arrived and dashed our dreams of pioneer powder: we rode snowmobiles deep into the wilderness and established a road to the top of a steep pitch covered with perfectly spaced trees. One snowmobile towed three skiers up to the top and then turned around to head down and pick us up at the bottom. The sun can be the ultimate outdoor pleasure, but on this day it turned our pristine powder into thick cement and robbed us of a last dance with winter’s bounty. We turned to our snowmobiles for some alpine exploration, but even that proved a challenge in the mashed potatoes, getting stuck and digging out repeatedly. It was my first experience on a snowmobile and I had some epiphanies about these machines:

1.) It felt like what I imagine riding a Speeder Bike from “Return of the Jedi”/Mariokart would feel like.
2.) It is incredibly fast and powerful.
3.) It doesn’t always turn when you want it to.
4.) It requires a full body strength to maneuver.
5.) It allows quick access to terrain that is unattainable with any other mode of transport in any other season.
6.) It is very fun to ride.

Tuesday was my official farewell to the ski season and while most of the mountain hadn’t softened up enough from the overnight freeze to make one last aggressive day, the groomers did provide some high speed bombing and I went out in a blaze of gravity. It was a quick vacation and smooth transition into Spring in one of the most beautiful settings this country has to offer. I feel lucky that I will have the opportunity to return there this summer for Marty and Sandy’s wedding and to enjoy the sun and warmth in all its glory, with Winter skiing just a memory or a dream.

Loud

Justavest

 

Bealowinski

Maine Again

President’s Day was a vacation, which meant a trip to Vacationland. I drove the 6 hours to Portland on Saturday and spent the long weekend in the company of amazing family. We dined the finest as Chefbro Andrew created some dazzling masterpieces at Hugo’s, we played hard on the Reiche’s Paddle Tennis court and enjoyed the company of parents and siblings and united families. I am always amazed by all of my relatives and lucky to be a part of their lives.

On Monday, in celebration of Washington’s Birthday, I drove up to Rangeley, ME to check out Saddleback Mountain. In perusing the internet, I found a trail map of said resort and knew I had to investigate. The entire top of the Mountain — with an elevation over 4000 feet — is covered in steep runs and beautiful glades. It is laid-back and uncrowded, which makes it pretty much my dream mountain, and despite the fact that everyone is cursing this season’s dearth of snow, the conditions were astonishingly good and iceless. This mountain kicks ass!

 

India: Soundtrack

I brought my laptop to India. I debated it for months, and decided to lug it for a few reasons: the most practical was as a storage device for all my videos. I had two 4 GB cards that were obviously insufficient video time, so I needed to fill and dump them. While unnecessary, the ability to record music and blog is a treasured joy and the weight and space sacrifice in my tiny backpack seemed inconsequential. Travel tends to throw some tricks at you and after 6 days, the power adapter was fried by a generator on our houseboat and although the computer itself was thankfully spared, it was rendered useless. When we made it to Delhi 8 days later, I tuk tukked it to the Apple Store in search of a new cable, and they told me that they were all out of the MacBook adapters. They allowed me to charge the computer in the store for a while, which gave me just enough juice to download my videos through the end of the trip and I was able to thumb some blogposts on my iPhone, but unfortunately, my music production was halted. I am looking at it as a gentle reminder that visual and aural India is too valuable to be spent on a small box with earphones.

But in the few hours that I did have an operational studio, I did produce some music that I enjoy listening to. Enjoy!

http://soundcloud.com/stephenjacksontaylor/sets/india