two zero one six

thirty-four things to do before I die:

1. hitchhiking across the United States, and all of the wonders therein.hitchhike2. seeing Thoth & Lila Angelique in person (after a decade of anticipation).thoth3. attending a mewithoutYou show, at very long last.mwy4. taking the exquisitely scenic train across Canada.canada5. visiting Australia (new country, new continent).australia

bonus items:

I. surprise trip to Florida to see some of my very favorite humans. (and The Top!!)gainesvilleII. revisiting the ever charming Astoria (and its seals!) with Jeremiah.
astoriaIII. roadtripping New England/visiting Vermont: land of Vil, with Sunita.vermont-ii
IV. spontaneous Port Townsend/couchsurfing-with-new-friends trip.ptii
V. taking on the northwestern northwest for Kate’s birthday adventures.nwnw
VI. attending the Pemberton music festival (as a VIP!) with Corey and Stazzie.pemberton
VII. finally making it to the Bahamas (new country) with Corey and Stazzie.bahamasVIII. eventually completing the Mosa Lina road trip via reuniting in long lost Boston.boston

I, for one, have had a stellar year.

#afterthisweregettingpizza

Boston was the failed city of the Mosa Lina road trip of 2013. It fell on our itinerary between New York City and Ohio. However, due to car issues leaving NYC, we just didn’t make it. We’ve been planning ever since to have a Mosa Lina reunion in Boston. However, whether for budget, timing, or whatever other usual excuses, we’ve not gotten around to it. Somehow though, the universe converged in October of 2016, and all four of us were able to make it to the elusive city of Boston.14560201_10154277013677034_5054336389961388308_oKristin and I were scheduled to fly out of Orlando late on the 7th. But Hurricane Matthew wrought literal havoc on those plans. Early morning on the 5th I received a call saying “for our convenience” our flight had been pushed back until the 9th “hope that’s okay.” Seeing as we had planned more than 24 hours in Boston, it wasn’t okay. After many phone calls back and forth amongst google sessions, we ended up canceling our tickets and rebooking flights out of the Tampa airport (the west coast of Florida was unaffected by the hurricane). Booking a flight less than two full days in advance wasn’t as awfully expensive as I would’ve expected. The really complicated part of this was that I had driven to Gainesville, and needed to get my brother’s truck back to Naples. Stazzie had a gig scheduled in Orlando, and I was going to catch a ride back with her. But her gig was also canceled due to the hurricane. And I had originally planned on hitchhiking back, but….it didn’t seem like the wisest decision considering the circumstances. I was having trouble finding a bus ticket back to Orlando, and finally realized (upon using Stazzie’s computer rather than my phone) that all bus service in Florida had been cancelled. Lovely. It turned out that Kristin’s area was going to have a curfew in effect, and so she ended up taking her cats and driving down to Naples. Which…got us back in the same city, but I can’t say was terribly convenient. I suppose it’s not a real trip back to the homeland if your plans aren’t thwarted by a natural disaster.

Anyways, all of this to say, the world was still trying to keep us from Boston. But we persevered. It wasn’t all bad though, because all of these complications did make it possible for me to see Andria [my kinda/sorta roommate for a few months in Gainesville a few years back] in Tampa for a few hours. Kristin and I were the first to set down in Boston. We arrived at 10 something pm, and were followed shortly by Christy. Cassie’s flight was even later, so the three of us got some much needed late night sushi. We met Cassie back at Kristin’s cousin’s apartment (aka our base for the weekend), and stayed up for hours talking, despite the communal fatigue.img_5208We had planned on taking the free walking tour the first day, but after our late night, all we wanted was just to sleep in. Which we did. Because we do what we want. Our slow morning led into a stroll to downtown with much appreciation of the gorgeous northeastern fall weather. The focus of this trip, other than just being together, was pizza. A proper pizza tour was on the agenda. We headed pretty quickly for the first stop, Galleria Umberto. Serendipitously it was the perfect introduction to Boston pizza. It was the simplest of the pizzas we ate, and it was perfection. Perfect dough, perfect sauce, perfect cheese. The hole-in-the-wall joint has no music, no frills, just exemplary food. Literally around the corner was Paul Revere’s house, which we stopped to see, but no one went in. Christy and I had been before, and Kristin and Cassie weren’t keen on waiting in the extensive line. So instead we went on a hunt for doughnuts, in which I didn’t partake. But Kristin loved hers and Christy was not impressed with hers. On our beeline for pizza we had passed a lovely park overlooking the harbor, and we looped back around to revisit, now with happy pizza filled stomachs. During the course of people watching and weather enjoying, we got it into our heads that we needed to find an Irish pub. So we gathered ourselves and found The Black Rose, whereby we got warming drinks and curry chips. Curry chips. Curry chips in the US. I had never thought it possible, but in almost no time we had fat, fried wedges of potato paired with a bowl of curry sauce. Boston was turning out to be all of my food dreams in one place.14566360_10207496805233904_8260471636219087934_o14595557_10157586373000581_6705806619136254950_nThere were a few things in Cambridge we wanted to see, so we headed that way, but got caught in a rain shower. We ducked into an MIT building and waited it out for awhile in a massive marble hallway. My stop in Cambridge was another graffiti alley, which was cool, but not the most extensive gathering of street art I’ve seen this trip. We pretty decisively decided we needed more pizza and set out for Regina Pizzeria, where we waited in line outside the building for probably half an hour before pizza was ours. We decided upon a veggie laden white sauce pizza, and a red sauce with fried eggplant. Both superb and satisfying. We took our leftovers, grabbed a bottle of wine, and took advantage of the rooftop of our building. Candlelit conversations overlooking Boston are a pretty phenomenal way to end a day.img_520914540617_603390793173697_109315554862432256_nWe had expected rain on Sunday, and it delivered. All day, without ceasing. We started the morning off with smoothies, you know, to balance out the pizza intake with something healthful. Our indoor activities all turned out to be tastings, but some of them didn’t work out as well as planned. You had to take a spendy tour of the Boston Tea Party Museum in order to partake in tastings of the teas that were dumped into the harbor. Which…we decided against. Harpoon Brewery’s next tour was at 4pm, and we had arrived at 1pm. So instead of waiting, Kristin and I decided to split a few flights. Christy got a phenomenal soft cinnamon sugar pretzel with peanut butter and pumpkin dipping sauces. We picked up more pizzas, these ones weren’t on the list of places I had researched, but I realized it was probably a better sampling to incorporate both researched and just-happen-to-be-nearby pizza places. From Babbo we got a goat cheese with pistachios, honey, and something truffle-y pizza, as well as a mushroom and smoked mozzarella pizza. We took these to GrandTen distillery and played games for the rest of the rainy evening.14516422_10154278600367034_1623596441525223506_n14650337_10207506080225773_449925922885469546_nMonday was our final day. We had tentatively re-scheduled our walking tour to today. Well, in our minds, anyways. I had forgotten this walking tour required reservations, and it was booked solid. So we walked the freedom trail on our own. First we were going to hit up the public library, except it wasn’t open, due to it being Columbus Day. Which…we don’t celebrate, but apparently other people do. I had awoken that morning with a fierce desire for a chai latte, and the others were pro-coffee, so we found a nearby coffee shop. It was a cold day, and the warmth was at least a slight boost on our walk through the Boston Common. We were stopped by two guys doing marketing research, and Christy and I participated in an interview involving financial questions, for which we received Starbucks gift cards. And then it was pizza time again. We decided upon another close by rather than widely known/highly rated place. Which turned out to be a great decision. It featured ginormous by the slice pizzas with the fluffiest crust you’ve ever seen. I think it properly prepared us for our historical stroll through Boston’s red-brick-lined freedom trail.14705088_1696403454011246_3492167200331005952_n14657275_10207512241819809_1833445255965218888_nChristy was flying out in the afternoon, so we headed back home and chilled for a bit. After we sent Christy off to the airport, Kristin, Cassie, and I headed to our airbnb. It was a private room in a shared residence, and we pretty much just got sushi and hung out in our room. Kristin left before Cassie and I awoke. And then Cassie and I parted ways when we reached the T station where I took my first public transport of the trip to get to South Station (we had been taking free Lyfts amongst our four accounts). I found a deli across the street and had a hearty omelette and home fries before my bus ride to New York City. It was a pretty nice ride, except for the nausea at some point in the middle. The trek from the bus station to Roosevelt Island and Sarah’s apartment was easy and familiar.

*most of the photos in this post are thieved from the other Mosas.

less like soup and more like heaven

So I forgot to mention that on the way to Ohio Corvin’s check engine light came on. Again. After just being fixed hours prior in New York. My parents insisted upon switching cars. Which we did, gratefully. But it was sad to pull out of my grandma’s driveway and leave Corvin pitifully, brokenly behind. But my parents’ car is much fancier. Volume control on the steering wheel, a CD player that works 100% of the time, seat warmers (not something I enjoy, but still), an honest to goodness clock, and admittedly much more room. Luxury. So Corvin was soon all but forgotten. Well, that is until we were about ten miles from Cassie’s family’s home and we filled the tank of our new vehicle. I think my heart changed its rhythm as the dollar signs increased. Little Corvin had been averaging about $27 per tank on the trip so far. My parents’ reached $66. I was not impressed. But I reminded myself 1) that their tank was larger, and 2) that we were incredibly lucky to even have a vehicle at this point. Thank God for my overwhelmingly generous parents.

The very blue house in Batavia became quite full when our party of four merged with the usual six residents. Between receiving numerous gifts and much adoration from the two youngest, and catching up with Beth, whom I’ve not seen for several years, our arrival stood in stark contrast to the past several hours of driving. I’ve realized road trips are a good balance of calm and [hopefully] uneventful stretches of driving past miles of gorgeous scenery, and periods of concentrated and vivid interaction with the people where and with the places in which you arrive. I appreciate both, but what I really appreciate is their harmony.

The events of Chicago (or, in my mind The City of Revolving Doors) sadly did not mirror Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as planned. But I still very much enjoyed the day. The Sears (or Willis, if you insist on being current) Tower was skippable in my opinion. Especially after just having been on the Empire State Building. But, whatever. The Bean in Millennium park was enchanting, however. I could have stayed and regarded it for hours. We stopped at a grocery store/vegetarian cafe called Kramer’s, which was a great decision. I’ve had this vegan Cuban sandwich in my mind for months now, seeing as Cuban sandwiches are the only form of pork I enjoy, and are the main situation in which I actually miss meat. But I haven’t gotten around to actually realizing this idea. Well Kramer’s beat me to it. Their Cuban sandwich was good, but I still think I can do it better, and I plan to.

There were non-food related events between lunch and dinner, but they weren’t especially noteworthy, so I’ll move right on to Gino’s. It had happened four or five times that when I mentioned the word ‘Chicago’ in relation to our itinerary, people responded with “go to Gino’s!” And so we did. Despite the fact that for the majority of the trip I’ve reduced myself to two meals a day, I consider both my vegan Cuban, and my deep dish pizza worthy investments. Not to mention, our server Dane! was one of the best waiters on the planet. We skipped out on the comedy venue we had planned on going to that evening in favor of spending more time at Gino’s and also stopping by the very fancy Grand Lux Cafe for Cassie’s dessert. By then we were exhausted. Three out of the four of us slept on the train ride back to Batavia.

Chicago Ginos

I really like the aesthetic of Chicago. It has interesting tall buildings and a lot going on, but it has a lot of space. Just walking through, there are pockets of air and sky filled places, the streets feel wide, and the people walking about don’t resemble some sort of human sardine run. It is has a sense on non-oppressive muchness.

My favorite part was the Tribune Tower. I started noticing these odd pieces of rocks here and there that didn’t seem to belong to the smooth facade. There were engravings of place names beneath each protrusion. As I walked along, I realized that these were collected from famous structures from across the world and then displayed in the walls of this building. It was fascinating. I think I can safely say that the Tribune Tower is my favorite structure in the US. I love that it wasn’t even an intended destination of our visit, we just brushed past it. You can’t even begin to imagine all that you’ll encounter on any given day.

real hooligans

nyc bridge

So despite the car being out of commission, we made use of our extra time in NYC. Mr. and Mrs. H came home and gracefully provided excellent food and loads of patience and support. We consumed toxic levels of sugar. I got married. We pretended to go to Boston up until we reached the bus station (poor, deserted Boston pizza tour, someday I will attend to you). We got a cookie cake and split it amongst the four of us in Central Park. We pawned off the last piece, which simply read ‘sexy’ to some passersby. I vomited my quarter of said cookie cake. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge. At long last Corvin came back to life, and we set off once again.

My parents just happened to be in Ohio while we were passing through. Which was about as exciting for me as anything else on the trip, since I now see them only a few times per year, living on the other side of the country and all. Ohio mostly involved catching up with extended family, since I now see them only once every few years. There was a small family dinner for my dad’s side, and the traditional huge family dinner for my mom’s side. I got to meet my new, twin first cousins once removed. I got to visit my grandma before her open heart surgery. Great quantities of pumpkin bread were consumed, and my grandma sent two loaves with us on our journey, loaves which were greatly enjoyed and appreciated. We also made multiple trips to Swenson’s, which is now one of two situations in which I will consume meat of my own volition (the other being homemade Cuban sandwiches). One of our trips was the midnight walk. Which is a bit odd, since Swenson’s is a drive-in ‘lights on for service’ restaurant. But we claimed our parking spot and consumed our amazingbestintheworld burgers and milkshakes happily.

OH Swensons

the man who doesn’t fear pajamas

Sometimes things just don’t work out how you planned for them to work out. Control: we don’t have it. But we try so hard to believe that we do.

This morning I was destined to be in Boston by nightfall. I had my dinner planned out, I knew what the sleeping arrangement was going to be, I had a schedule of how things were supposed to happen. Today somewhere between feeling ill from copious amounts of sugar and then consuming further copious amounts of sugar, that plan failed. We took the train back to Princeton and retrieved the car. But on the way to Boston dear ol’ Corvin decided to go on strike. Maybe it had to do with ignoring all of the warnings and alerts, maybe it was a protest of all of the miles we’ve been putting on him, or perhaps he is revolting against leaving Florida (I would have a car that was partial to the tropics). Regardless of the reason, my poor car stopped working. On the highway. It just…stopped accelerating. I performed this battery trick my dad had coached me on before we left, and that served as a temporary solution. Unfortunately a little more temporary than was really optimal. Like maybe five minutes. So we found the nearest Toyota dealer (after calling my dad, twice). Which was miraculously close. Though it took about five more battery maneuvers to get there, we did indeed make it before it closed. So much for not driving in New York City!

I am not excited about my car breaking down. I’m not stoked about being thrown off schedule. But as usual, a lot of things went way better than they could have, and probably better than they statistically should have. It’s a miracle we were so close to a Toyota dealership, that we were in NYC where we were able to just take the subway back to Sarah’s place, that we had stopped at Trader Joe’s earlier to buy food, and most of all that we were all safe and unharmed. When we started driving this afternoon, I had this really negative feeling. In my brain I interpreted it as ‘we are going to wreck today’. It was so strong I could barely force myself to sleep. I awoke to Cassie pulling over because the acceleration stopped. How grateful I am that it was something so harmless.

Over the past few years I’ve come to the conclusion it is not worth worrying about what’s going to happen when you don’t have all your facts, and you have even less control. I could have stressed about all of the potential outcomes of the situation, I could have made plans A through Z. But it’s quite simply a waste of time and unnecessary as well. So I handed over my keys and re-entered both mentally and physically into the NYC portion of our trip. Sarah picked up cupcakes on her way home. We all pretty immediately donned pajamas, and preceded to have a picnic out by the river. Followed by a few rounds of pictionary telephone. Sometimes non-serendipitous events can be accompanied by really pleasant moments.

wow, gee whiz, golly wolly…

Sarah, my best friend for the entirety of my childhood, lives in New York City. Her and her family were out of town, but they offered to let us stay at their apartment. We accepted.    NYC

The first night we made use of a sweet hookup at the Empire State Building. We got our tickets half off, were escorted past all of the lines, and received VIP postcards. Needless to say, we felt pretty fancy. It was exceptionally windy, and it was really beautiful. Well worth visiting, but perhaps not at full price.

Day two started off in Central Park, where I believe a lot of time should be spent when in New York City. Maybe it defeats the purpose of being in a city, spending as much time as possible in a park, but not in my mind. There is something so pleasant about being in a place that is so very chaotic, and being able to grasp a bit of calm. We also took the Staten Island Ferry.

NYC central park

NYC ferry

On Sunday we had tickets to see The Lion King. It was phenomenal. So much creativity and talent. If I were the crying sort, I would have cried and cried at just how impressive and gripping it was. I am definitely glad to have had the opportunity to see it.

NYC cp

I took a personal day in New York. I was pretty impressed that I proactively claimed personal days on the trip, since usually I fail at it. But in hindsight, I still didn’t take enough. I get so caught up in doing things, that I forget my mind needs a break, a reordering, a calm and a resurgence. During the course of my “I’m an introvert, solitude please” morning, I read an article from Donald Miller, where he pretty much covered the reason for my need for a break from humans. It was mostly a relaxed, mosey-ish day. But a few things it included were: Yaffa Cafe, a bookstore, a few strolls through various parts of NYC, and some nature time in Central Park. I also may have visited Trader Joe’s, which I’ve heard has a crazy busy location in Manhattan. The line actually took under thirty seconds, despite what I had been told.

Sarah came home on our last evening. We had dinner and watched The Princess Diaries, which is pretty much a requirement for us whenever we’re together at this point. I think this is also the night we made fondue. But everything is such a blur, now three months later. Anyways, we had fondue one night, and I’m pretty sure all of us felt lardily ill and deliciously filled with deliciousness. Sarah is an awesome cook and baker, and I haven’t yet tried anything that wasn’t impressive. I choose my friends wisely.

NYC Sarah

*photos courtesy of Cassiopeia, Kev, and Lu. All of whom are better, and more motivated photographers than I am.

Freddie Mercury is dead

Our drive from Gainesville, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia was considered the first real driving stretch of the road trip. I’ve done the drive from Naples to Gainesville plenty of times, and by now it’s pretty well lacking in the adventure department.

Atlanta made it onto the itinerary due to the completely wonderful Sarah and Lindsey. Who weren’t at their apartment when we arrived. So we grabbed our bread, peanut butter, and honey and sought out the optimal picnic spot in their rather attractive development. We sat atop a sewage drain and enjoyed the lovely Atlanta weather which graced our feast. During our meal we were approached by a woman whom some of the group presumed was going to kick us out, but whom I personally thought was going to attempt to sell us something. In fact she offered us four free tickets to the Queen show that evening. Tickets which we eagerly accepted, but sadly didn’t end up using. It turns out during our little picnic, Sarah and Lindsey in fact were home. We spent the evening happily with them. Pseudo-Queen ain’t got nothing on those ladies.

Atlanta

We left early the next morning. Philadelphia was our ultimate destination for the day, but we had a stop planned in North Carolina. We stopped for a short visit with our friend Rhyne, one of the loveliest people in the world. He introduced us to crack in the form of an assortment of dips and spreads. Since we were ahead of schedule we (they) decided to drive through DC. Which was a bit of a driving nightmare. But we saw a few famous things and admired the pretty oldish buildings. Well, I mostly focused on the other cars and such, but I’ve been to the capital before, and am not too bothered about seeing it again.

We finally made it to Philadelphia, and arrived at the really nice home of one of my previous co-woofers, Abel. He, his brother, and his brother’s girlfriend were really welcoming.

Philadelphia Abel

Our first day we visited the Reading market, which captured all of us. We found a statue I had wanted to see (photo to come someday when I’m not using an iPod Touch). We stopped at the Rodin museum, which is likely the only museum I will partake in on this particular trip. I have a slight aversion to museums, I’ve found, but this one I quite enjoyed. I spent several minutes toe to toe with one of Rodin’s statues, just gazing into his face. I never knew you could stare into the face of sorrow for so long.

Philadelphia domino

My favorite stop of the day (and I suspect it will be my favorite of the entire trip) was the Magic Gardens. Magical is the perfect adjective for it. A whole world of abandoned and broken, found and reimagined items splayed across the walls and floors of a mini neighborhood. There were bottles and mirrors and plates, colors and white, glass, ceramic, and metal. So many intricate pieces placed so specifically in such a heart and soul grabbing display. Many of the bottles contained small scrolls and scraps of paper left by previous visitors. People who wanted to leave a part of themselves in that place, or maybe were so caught up in the creativity that they wanted to have some small contribution. I definitely recommend going whensoever you find yourself in Philadelphia.

Philly

Philadelphia Batman

For dinner we had Philly cheesesteaks. Which were goodish, but not amazing. On day two we saw the oldest residential street in the US (pretty), and the liberty bell (unimpressed). I was partial to our bread, cheese, and jam picnic. All aforementioned ingredients were purchased at Reading market and were fabulous.Philly CS

We drove from Philadelphia to Princeton, New Jersey, where we left our car. The assumption was that not driving in NYC would be optimal, and not parking there would be cheaper. Hindsight may have disproven both of those theories, but eh, live and learn.

*photos courtesy of Cassiopeia, Kev, and Lu. All of whom are better, and more motivated photographers than I am.