Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vacation 2012: From Yreka to Eureka or 1,374 miles (Part II)

(Part I, the Boring Part can be found over here)

Wide Open Road Wednesday
Wednesday morning Rachel and I got a slow start around Reno -- including a drive by the post office so she could get one of her student loan payments posted in time, and of course the somewhat famous "Reno: The Biggest Little City in the World" sign
Reno, it really does seem like a small city

Leaving Reno -- with another stop at In-N-Out -- we had a quick jaunt on Interstate 80 before hitting US Highway 395. For the first several miles US 395 looks like any other limited access highway. Shortly after crossing the California boarder we encounter one of California's Agricultural Inspection Stations.

"Do you have anything agricultural to declare?" I asked Rachel, "Well there are the bales of hay I bought at the airport..." she answered, "How about anything biological?" I asked Rachel as we got closer to the station. "Paco?!? Do I have to leave Paco behind?" her mock answer. Free from threats to California's economy, we're waved through and resume freeway speeds. As we departed, Rachel noted the particularly large incinerator located next to the checkpoint. Yes, they do take that seriously.

For some reason I'm always taken by the image of the lone barn or farmhouse.
As US 395 continues the environment takes on a far more rural character as it narrows to a two-lane undivided road (fortunately the speed limit stays at a comfortable 65) as it parallels the West side of the California-Nevada boarder for a little over twenty miles before diverging westward and northbound.

US 395 gives way to California Highway 36, taking us through Susanville -- passing the River Inn with a "Wi-Fi Heated Pool" (who knew Internet access was so hot?) before leaving civilization again for the wide open road:
Our Right Turn from CA 36 on to CA 44/Feather Lake Highway.
From this point on we would go fifteen or twenty minutes at a time without seeing another car, much less human. Skirting the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas (and the Plumas and Lassen National Forests) and only the occasional bird. There were, however, plenty of large trees.

Finding a hint of civilization in a "<- Gas" sign serving as a companion to the first stop sign in over fifty miles, we turned Right from California Highway 44 on to California Highway 89, with signs along the route proclaiming the California's "Volcanic Legacy".

My Garmin, however, kept us entertained with an increasingly amusing series of "Nearest Exit" advisories:

(Click for Larger) "So Goat" "Government" "Military"
As California 89 approached Interstate 5 we got stick in a backup caused by road construction just outside of McCloud, and we also got our first sights of Mount Shasta and it's sister -- who I still remember an airline pilot referring to years ago as "Diet Shasta", but more properly known as Shastalina

Leaving back-road highways and joining Interstate 5 for the trek North into Oregon, the final bit of amusement in California came when we exited at Weed for gas. The last time I was in Weed was Christmas day, 2004, when I was on my way back home to Southern California from a road trip that took me to the Canadian border, and the name of the city (combined with a "<--- College | Weed --->" sign brought about the by the good fortune of having the College of the Siskiyous located nearby) has always amused me.

With a full tank of gas, and full cups of caffeine, we continued the trek north Interstate 5, both figuratively and literally -- gaining several thousand feet of elevation along the way, before crossing the Oregon border. Which is where I think we'll leave this installment.

Despite California's reputation for traffic, roads were pretty empty up here.
And just across the Oregon boarder.

Until the next installment where we visit Crater Lake and perhaps encounter some redwoods.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Art: Contemporary and Photography Galleries Open House @ClevelandArt #ColumnAndStripe

Members of Column & Stripe, The New Friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art were invited to join members of the Contemporary Art Society and the Friends of Photography for an open house and reception for the recently reopened Contemporary and Photography galleries and their curators. Since these two are my favorite of the museum's galleries there's no way I'd turn down the invitation.

Before heading up to the galleries we assembled in the Recital Hall on the lower level of the Breuer building for an enlightening introduction.

The Contemporary Art Society introduced new Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Reto Thuring who illustrated the new arrangement of the contemporary galleries as grounded more in themes and inviting dialogues between pieces rather than the previous, more chronological arrangement. As an aside, the new arrangement of the temporary walls in the galleries leads to a much more open feeling.

Not to be outdone Barbara Tannenbaum introduced the current photography installation DIY: Photographers (through December 20), highlighting digital Print on Demand photo books from a wide swath of photographers, some internationally known professionals and some local high school students. Unlike other areas of the museum where touching art is verboten, this exhibition invites you to pick up and thumb through the 157 photo books that were selected -- from the smallest [I found] being Things Darby Chewed not much larger than a credit card, to the largest, Astronomical a twelve volume set where each page represents one million kilometers in the universe (Yes, there are a lot of black pages).

And perhaps the most exciting news: This coming Tuesday the "Art Detour" from the North Entrance through the museum's basement to the galleries will end as the spectacular Atrium opens to the public for the first time-- I can't wait to see and hear people mingling in Cleveland's new great room.

(Full disclosure: I serve as the chair for Column and Stripe's Philanthropy Committee)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vacation 2012: From Yreka to Eureka or 1,374 miles (Part I)

At the beginning of August, I had a quick project in the Northwestern corner of California. A quick project, and a capstone to several weeks of running around the country for work I decided to tack on a few days of much-needed vacation.

While I was out that way I wanted to travel a bit North and visit my grandmother who, by virtue of being a off the beaten path, I've seen rarely. And Rachel joined me for the trip; her first time in Nevada, California, or Oregon.

And in the space of a little bit less than a week we covered a significant chunk of the Western United States. How significant? The state of Ohio has a border length of 970 miles, give or take. When I returned the rental car to Hertz we had added 1,374 miles to the odometer, the equivalent of driving about one and a half times around the perimeter of Ohio.

En Route: Solo Monday
The trip started oddly -- always one to maximize my Elite Qualifying Miles and even more so to see a new airport, I threw a stop at Washington Dulles in the mix (Cleveland-Washington-Houston-Sacramento) because it added a whopping $2 to the fare (yes, two dollars) and got me an extra 1.5 EQS and 750 EQM.

IAD is, I believe the words I used, "Godforsaken hell hole". I have no inclination to return, lest I get hit by another bird flying through the terminal or have another part of the mens' room ceiling fall on me ... It makes Cleveland Hopkins look like a glistening ultra-modern travel mecca.

Fortunately, I was only on the ground for about 20 minutes before I continued on my way to a three-hour connection in Houston before finally arriving in Sacramento shortly after 7PM. Though the project in Susanville, I had decided to overnight in Reno -- almost three hours from Sacramento. Clearly I wasn't thinking (clearly) when I hatched this plan. But I set out on I80 towards Reno.

While Ohions know and love Interstate 80 as the Ohio Turnpike, I80 from Sacramento to Reno as it traverses the Sierra Nevadas is a far more rugged beast with steep mountain climbs, winding roads, and an existence as four narrow lanes for much of its existence. Including the infamous Donner Pass, where the Donner Party survived a brutal winter by resorting to cannibalism. In the summer I'm sure it would be a beautiful daytime drive, but at night -- and with road construction around every other corner, it was a little stressful.

I made it to Reno a little after 10pm Pacific (1am Eastern), checked into the hotel and promptly fell asleep.

Rachel Joins Me: Two for Tuesday
Here, we can see the stalked prey through the bushes.
When I woke up Tuesday morning, I hit the road for the 90 minute drive from Reno to Susanville up the US Highway 395. An easy drive on a 2-lane road with a 65 MPH speed limit, the only downside is being stuck behind the occasional semi or prison transport van. I hate passing into lanes for oncoming traffic, especially at those speeds.

I met with my client -- a client that I particularly enjoy working with -- got the project taken care of and after day's worth of work, I drove back down 395 and arrived at the Reno airport shortly after Rachel's flight... and promptly dragged her to her first In-N-Out Burger.

Though I had (jokingly) said that if she didn't like it, I might just have to bring her back to the airport, that warning turned out to be unnecessary as she declared it "Delicious".

Doing some other quick preparation for Wednesday's long drive north before retiring back to the Reno hotel for a good night's sleep.

Wide Open Road: Wednesday
Wednesday morning we started the trek North, and that will start our next post on the subject later this week.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Salute to John Williams

[The complete program for this concert follows this post]

There are some concerts that I'm predisposed to like -- and this concert, featuring the music of John Williams, scores high as far as predispositions goes. Thus, it's particularly surprising when I left tonight's concert barely mustering a "meh". It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't Cleveland Orchestra good; more Long Beach Pops acceptable.

While I don't think it would have changed my impression of the concert, it's worth noting that the evening got off to a rocky start when another patron tried claiming my seat while I was settling in (The tickets were for the same box and seat; I stood my ground, er, chair, the usher just kind of shrugged, and the other patron moved on to another empty seat but it still dented the evening)

I long ago came to the conclusion that it is unreasonable to expect a "John Williams Concert" without music from Star Trek, but tonight's program was heavily loaded with cliched works, and left out all of my favorites (save for the encore) and Mr. Williams lesser known pieces.

Just because the selections were cliched doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't enjoy it, but the performance  tonight -- perhaps just from my seat location as I was further house right than I prefer -- seemed really two-dimensional and lacked the musical depth-of-field that makes attending live orchestral concerts special; as  performed I might as well have been listening to them on  my iPod. After a while, most of the pieces pretty much sounded the same.

Nothing really stood out as superior but a few pieces deserve mention:
Sayuri's Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha was more subdued and restrained than I typically associate with Williams's works. The Olympic Fanfare and Theme from the 1984 Olympics embodied the Olympic Spirit.

Yoda's Theme from Star Wars was more delicate and combined with the vivid sounds of children playing on the (packed) lawn and a few quiet chirps from birds made what was probably the most serene piece on the evening's program.

Adventures on Earth from E.T. had a beautiful violin section and quite possibly could have been the piece so many years ago that subliminally made the violin my favorite instrument

March from 1941 served as the encore, and the only of my favorite John Williams pieces  that was heard at Blossom this evening and did not disappoint (for those building programs: Other favorite Williams pieces that don't get done: America: The Dream Goes On; The Main Theme from The Patriot; Main Title from The Towering Inferno, and I could go on...)


The Program (as published and performed), all by John Williams: Superman March from Superman; Main Title and Theme from Jurassic Park; Sayuri's theme from Memoirs of  a  Geisha; [1984]Olympic Fanfare and Theme; Suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Suite from Star Wars (The Imperial March, Yoda's Theme, Main Title); March from Raiders of the Lost Ark; Harry's Wonderful World  from Harry Potter; Selections from Hook (The Face of Pan, Flight to Neverland); Selections from Jaws (The Shark ThemeOut to Sea, and The Shark Cage Fugue); Adventures  on Earth from E.T.; March from 1941. Richard Kaufman, conductor.