Archive for August, 2011

By the numbers

Posted: August 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Altercations: 1 with a parking valet at a Nashville hotel.
Animals: See full report on flora and fauna.
Gas tank fills: 32
Total miles: 4.745
Average Miles per Gallon: 59 (max 68, min 43)
Longest one day ride: 500 (Texarkana to Nashville)
Shortest one day ride: 15 (Durham to Chapel Hill)
Average daily ride: 279 miles
Average price per fill up: $10
Cheapest gas (premium, I pamper Rocinante): $3.43, in Boston.
Most expensive gas: Westport CT, $4.99
Total money spent on gas: $325
Total fuel gallons used: 83.89
Tickets (parking): 2 University of Alabama – they forgive the first one. NYC, for street cleaning.
Tickets (speeding): 0 thanks Rocinante
States visited: CT, NY, NJ, Del, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, MI, LA, TX, Ark, Tenn, 15
Air filters: 2 Mississippi, Massachusetts
Oil change: 1 Houston
Lost: 3 bandanas (Houston), 1 toothbrush (New Orleans)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6JHbLQ3YQ4

Final leg. NYC to Boston

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

image

After another great breakfast with Mark, this time at the Popover Café, it was time for my departure. Not without first realizing that it was street cleaning day and that I had a $65 ticket waiting for me. I guess one ticket in 5000 miles is ok, I should not complain.

It was a beautiful day, so I enjoyed driving up Riverside drive up to the Bronx. From there the pleasant Merritt parkway all the way to New Haven. Once in Massachusetts it was back roads all the way home. A little bit like Dory in Finding Nemo, I was surprised every time I saw a Massachusetts license plate! In Framingham, at Paramount HD I stopped to say hi and for a final air filter change. The guys were great and after buying the filter, they replaced it for free. Thanks guys!

Finally after a mere four hours, 209 miles from NY I was home.

image

Mario Vargas Llosa’s Pantaleon y las visitadoras was the perfect book for the trip and I finished it today, a day short of the expected end of the trip. The epistolary style synched perfectly with my traveling and the humor lightened up my time. The book portrays Latin American corruption at its best. The fast paced tempo worked well for my reading intervals. Bravo!

When I was in Houston, David gave me his well read and well worn copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A book I have been wanting to read since it was recommended to me by an English teacher in high school. I started it on the subway today and I’m hooked. I feel like I could have written it if I knew how to write.

image

image

image

Mark treated me to a traditional Jewish breakfast (white fish, salmon, eggs, bagels, etc.) at Barney Greengrass. Then after helping him tidy up his apartment, I walked to Fordham to have lunch with my dear friend and old student, Catherine Keller, ’10. We had a great chat and a great meal at a traditional midtown diner. It’s so rewarding to see these kids mature and see their values and criteria grow  After dropping off Catherine it was off to Mark’s gallery in SoHo.

I finally had a decent espresso at The Roasting Plant across the street from Mark’s. After three weeks of American coffee, after three weeks of people thinking Starbucks makes a good espresso.

Dinner was at the übertrendy Barrio Chino a tiny Mexican place around the corner from Mark’s. Dessert was a chocolate coconut cookie thing from the coffee shop next door. And from there to his friend’s triplex attic apartment at the Ansonia, a grand Upper West side building where Babe Ruth lived. We had a lovely glass of wine and a nice chat.

image

image

image

image

image

image

After a fabulous breakfast at The White Spot, a culinary mecca in Charlottesville. I headed to the Spanish Dept. My first contact was with Zac, a supercool grad student who have me the “scoop” on UVA. After that I went to see Prof. Andrew Anderson. One would think that after visiting 11 universities I would have become more comfortable talking to these emminences grisses, but no, I choke up, blabber, stutter, and mumble like a kid in the headmaster’s office. Despite the fact that he was really nice, understanding and patient, considering I just walked into his office in what we used to denomonate in the business world a “cold call”.

The campus is really head and shoulders. The students super nice, an undergrad basically walked me to the Student Center, way out of her way. And Charlottesville is a village, but a really cool village.

From there I backtracked to the legendary Blue Ridge Mountains, to the historical Shenandoha National Park, to the epic Skyline drive, basically a road that runs over 100 miles on the crest of the mountains in the park. Breathtaking is a literal description of the ride. Throw in three deer conspiring against me by crossing the road in front of me and it becomes double breathtaking. It took me three hours to cover the 100 miles. Rocinante and  I where thrilled and loved this end of college visits treat.

From there it took an hour to DC, where due to rush hour traffic it took another hour to do a quarter of the ring road. Then it was a straight blast to Mark Miller’s Upper West Side apartment, where in his classic hospitable style I had a huge and delicious Greek salad waiting for me. Mark, you are the man!

image

image

Chickens: My cousin’s and a bunch in Tennessee.

Deer: A mom and a baby who almost killed me and another one.

Grasshopper: On my leg at a road stop.