Ahhh, back home.

Traveling is fun. I honestly believe that part of the fun, and part of the reason for going away in the first place is just for the act of coming back. You don’t really appreciate something until you don’t have it. Travel is probably more about coming back than anything else.

Kim wrote a lot about most of the things we did on our latest trek from Virginia to the Adirondacks, looking it full in the face. I’m going to look at the same trip, but from the corner of my eye, and see what else I can see.

dax1This was my first trip to the Adirondacks in a few years, and the first ever with Kim. I was taking her back to see “the ancestral manse”, to borrow a line from Everett Ulysses McGill. Sometimes you go places where things have not seemed to change in the last 20 or 30 years, but the Adirondacks are a place where things have not changed for much, much longer than that.

The Adirondack park is the size of the state of Vermont. There is constant tension between preservation and “progress”, and this is one place where preservation usually wins. My parents moved to the Adirondacks when I was 8 or 9, so the natural world was an important part of growing up for me, and preserving pure, wild places in their natural state has always been an underlying assumption for me. I make my living in the technology and fad-obsessed electronic reality, but what really matters is something far more permanent.

Global warming, if it exists at all, is not caused by technology, it is caused by overpopulation and people who pride themselves in becoming less and less connected with the world around them. This is not something we can cure. It is a condition that people are born with, and fight to protect.

dax4I’m not exactly a Greenpeace liberal wacko, but I do love the natural world, and despise irresponsible development. With the state of overpopulation, you can’t really avoid being irresponsible in other ways. Building cars that get 5 or 10 or even 100 miles per gallon more than current cars is not going to reverse the affects of overpopulation, only reducing population by 75% or more is going to allow us to get back in balance.

Anyway, not to get too preachy. Peak autumn colors came during our visit. Photos don’t really do it justice. It was gray and cloudy most of the time we were there, but the brilliant oranges and reds of the maples has a glow all its own.

dax3The view from the house I grew up in was stunning, and again photos don’t capture it. The mountains and valleys and color and scale of things, even for the east can instill a sense of loyalty to this brand of beauty.

dax5One one of our adventures we came across an injured coyote along side the road. His front leg was hurt, possibly hit by a car. We didn’t get a great shot of it, we were much closer to it than the picture suggests. This was taken between the towns of Lyon Mountain and Standish. The lines on the road suggest a level of civilization beyond the actual. There were a lot of turkey in the area too, so it wasn’t too surprising that we should see a coyote.

dax6And then out where my parents live, there is always the danger of the neighbor’s cattle getting loose. Peaceful and road wary, they see if the grass really is greener over here and await the guy with the tractor and rope.

dax7During the ride back to Virginia, we decided we wanted to stop in to Washington, DC to go to the Solar Decathalon, a competition to build self-contained housing units. Each team, mostly from universities, brought their entry onto the Mall in DC. You can see the route planned here by Google Maps. I’ve done this drive before, and I should have known, but the route through New Jersey and down I-95, at about 6 pm on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend (Columbus Day) has to be one of the most miserable experiences anyone can have. The entire Garden State Parkway was bumper to bumper. We got a little respite in northern Maryland, but Baltimore was little better. This scene just brought back the thoughts of overpopulation and irresponsible entitlement. Saying nothing of the physical scars interstates leave on the land and water, a trip down this stretch of road is a study in excess, arrogance, and what some people are willing to accept as “normal”. Spending a couple hours in bumper to bumper machinery through an open wound in the landscape and considering it “acceptable” shows not that there is something wrong with a lot of individuals, but that there is something wrong with us all. If we stopped reproducing altogether, in 30 years the situation would right itself.

dax8Anyway, in DC, the Solar Decathalon was another juxtaposition of too many people trying to come up with an inadequate solution. It is undoubtedly in the right direction, it just doesn’t stand a chance of solving the problem by itself.

This structure was from a university in Spain. It was one of the most sophisticated looking units. All of the entries to the competition had to be small enough to transport and assemble , and robust enough to work and sustain the kind of traffic that being on The Mall in DC would produce. There were a lot of entries, and the lines to get into some of them were very long.

I only actually went into the entry by Rice University. To me, their entry was depressing. It seemed to convey the idea that in the future these students envisioned, we would all be living in 30′ x 12′ boxes with no windows, stacked on and next to one another in a row-house-meets-high-rise sort of metallic slum. There is a time and place for efficiency, but is it really appropriate to pack human beings together like that?

People looking to the future seem to think that planning for ultra-high density living is the best alternative available. I hope mankind gets  a lot smarter than we are now, and I hope I’m not around to see what will happen if we don’t.

The whole vacation was a study in the extremes of population density. Many people use the “sustainability” buzzword these days. The population growth rate is necessary to fulfill financial growth goals established by insatiable greed. More consumers, more labor. None of this is sustainable, starting with the number of people on Planet Earth. People talk about energy consumption and fish depletion and wrecking resources and the rape of the physical environment as if they are the problems that must be solved, but they are not the problems, they are just the symptoms of overpopulation. It would be political suicide for any politician to speak with common sense about sustainable population growth (which can only be negative). If we remove all of the natural processes that control human population, some synthetic means will at some point need to be implemented.

So, now I’m back home from vacation. Back to normal. Back to work. Less time to think about philosophical issues, and more about practical details of everyday life.

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Lyons and Dogs

Yesterday, we took off in search of more fall scenery.  The destination was to be Lyon Mountain.   We drove and drove and saw lots of color.  We drove around the mountain and back again.  Along the way we saw lots of wildlife, a coyote, wild turkeys, and a few thrush.  Here are a few pictures from the day.

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Then after the day’s travels we ended back at Matt’s parents place.  They have been great hosts, keeping us well fed and rested.  It has been a relaxing place to call home for a few days.
 
I know as much as they have enjoyed having us here, their dog, Mozart will be just as happy to see Zoe leave.  Mozart is a stately gentleman of a schnauzer, that has tolerated Zoe’s puppy playfulness gracefully.  He is less amused by her visit and ready to have order restored to his world.
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NY Autumn

It is definitely autumn here in upstate NY.  As we progressed northward the color became more vibrant and more dramatic.  Yesterday we made the trip to Lake Placid.  It was a beautiful place in the world.  After a short walk with Zoe, Matt and I took off down the main street.lp - kim at lake  We found a cozy public garden beside the public library.  It was a wonderful place to sit for a moment and take in the beautiful fall scenery.  In this place the wildlife was abundant, ducks, squirrels and chipmunks ventured by looking for handouts.  They seemed pretty familiar with the process despite the sign forbidding the practice.

We drove past the impressive ski jumps.  100_8129Getting a sense of their scale.  And then on to the bobsled area.  The one thing that really stuck with me is the smallness of the area when it is part of the world stage.  I cannot imagine how the Olympic crowds negotiated through the area.  Matt says that his family just left town.  After being part of the Atlanta Olympic crowd, I can appreciate how much space it takes to host the events.

After the Olympic flashback, jay - bridge2we went on a few different roads up through Keene, Wilmington and Jay.  In Jay, NY,  there was a gorgeous reconstructed covered bridge.  It was reconstructed in 2006 and turned into a pedestrian bridge.  Very nice attraction for the town.  It is the last bridge of this type structure, Howell truss, in the Adirondacks.  jay - inside bridge pano

After our drive through the mountains, we drove back to Saranac Lake for a very nice dinner with Matt’s parents at Nonna-Fina.  Great food.

Northbound

truckWe are on the road again.  This time it is a driving trip to upstate New York.  We are taking in the sights and visiting Matt’s parents.  The one difference is this time, Zoe is along for the ride.

The first day was a full moon.  And while Matt gets annoyed when I blame anything out of the ordinary on the full moon, I believe it had alot to do with the events on our first day.

Almost first thing, we were confronted with this truck.  OK, it is in tow but it was a bit unnerving following it.

Then we made the turn onto route 15 off I-81.  For a moment I thought we had jumped states and ended up in some rural part of West Virginia.  But it was just a rough start to an otherwise beautiful drive up 15.  Nicely underused road except for one spot that we decided to have lunch.  Extreme views of the wide river and stunning vistas.  Beautiful places along this route.

Early evening we made it to Corning, NY to discover that our usual hotel was completely booked due to a marathon the next morning.  Which happened to coincide with our plans to visit the Corning Museum of Glass.  I had been looking forward to this since we started planning this trip.  So after a few stops and a few more full hotels and hotels that just wouldn’t take dogs.

Eventually we settled for a motel that was located mere feet from the on ramp – how convenient!  This was the kind of place that I didn’t want to take my shoes off and you are sure if the walls could talk there would be blue flashing lights involved.  My barefeet never touched the floor.  It was the kind of place that even after a shower I still felt dirty.  yuck!  Mercifully we survived the night, very little real sleep and Zoe in between us all night.

During our quest to find our hotel room, I notice a Panera and we headed straight for it the next morning. Bagels, Chi Tea and a real internet connection….. ahhh back to civilization.  It was a turning point.  The events of the previous day and night were behind us and it was a new day.  And we were laughing about it.

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The Corning Museum of Glass was fantastic for a glass nerd like me.  Matt enjoyed it as well.  We soaked in every bit, while Zoe chilled out and slept in the car.  It was an overcast day in the low 60’s so she was in a very comfortable place.

The building is of course mostly glass but quite beautiful.  It is a campus of several buildings.

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It follows nicely in the several blocks it occupies.  Inside you are greeted by the first big piece by Dale Chihuly.

You have probably seen something by him as he is very popular.  His style is

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very distinctive.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it is constructed much like a Southern bottle tree – almost exactly!  Now I understand.

The Corning staff was very friendly (yes even for Yankees, there I said it).

One of the security guards was nice enough to point out some hard to see details in one of the pieces.  We saw all kinds of glass through the ages and different processes.

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I even got the chance to turn some big glass in the kiln …. OK not really.

We then headed north to Rochester.  Matt needed to check out old haunts.  It has been 28 years since I visited so not much was familiar to me.  We did drive through/around RIT.  I did consider going there for college and Matt did attend there.  It has changed a bit and grown outward.

Then we got lucky.  We found a magnificent Hampton Inn that gladly accepted dogs.  All three of us had a great night and are now feeling refreshed and ready to take on the Adirondacks.

Tonight we end up at Matt’s parents.  We are hopeful that Zoe and Mozart become friends.  I am looking forward to seeing them and the fall foliage.