PacNo redux, NorCal and the eventual return to the Southland... by geoffrey nichols

so this will be mildly disjointed visually (and possibly here as well) but i'm attempting to catch everyone up to where i sit in Starbucks 5620 @ Highland & Franklin in the heart of Hollywood.

in the previous log i mentioned the vintage tractor holiday lights parade but see now that for some reason no pics made it into the post so that will be rectified.

and being in Calistoga, Angwin, St Helens & Glen Ellen was a very interesting nostalgia rush while simultaneously being odd as my only reason for KNOWING these enclaves is my mother who is NOT there anymore.

the drive from Calistoga to the Bay Area was stunning as usual (and made even better because i listened to Arsenal thump Basel in the Champions League while PSG tied)

visiting of my oldest friends and her family in the east bay suburbs was cool as pixie thoroughly relished watching animated features and playing "cozy cozy" with little boy.

unfortunately, certain logistics forbade me from spending as much time in San Francisco proper as i would've liked, but i did BART in on a rainy night to dine with family friends i've known since the 70s.

the drive down 101 to Santa Barbara was visually uneventful, but the idyllic seaside town was at the height of picturesque when parked along the beach and met 3.5 pugs in the first few minutes we walked along the boardwalk.  the waning rays of light were spent taking pics, creating images and keeping an eye out for coyotes at the hillside cabin of another dear friend. absolutely perfect mexican food capped off the night and then i woke on my birthday to a misty morning and only 2 hours away from the City of Angels.

Breakfast turned out to be quite memorable as 2 women in the Italian cafe stopped me because of my orange sweater and i sat with them so long discussing fashion, the trip and misc that we exchanged info (one of them texted me yesterday that she's trying to connect me with movie producer niece)

the drive "home" along PCH was lackadaisical to say the least with me pulling over in Ventura to treat myself to shirt at Goodwill for $5 (i found 2 rather cool ones), then i stopped at beach campground i'd driven past a THOUSAND times. I also felt compelled to have an AHI burger at Malibu seafood, but guess what... I'm over it. (cause for $13 the fries shouldn't SUCK)

Pixie and I then strolled along Abbott Kinney Blvd in Venice where she grew up and... she broke it (it's an internet meme) and amazingly i did NOT buy Japanese Converse. With my hollywood bestie not expecting us until Saturday, she arranged a darling spot for us to bunk in SanMo

saturday graced us with big Arsenal win and then i migrated to Hollywood Heights where i'll stay with dear friend (and the reason for Pixie) for a spell. Sunday, which marked 14 weeks since departure, was honored by NOT driving anywhere! Since then i've encountered epic donuts at AA in Silver Lake, some sherpa worthy dog walks in new neighborhood and the industry networking which is WHY i am here...

so per usual in Starbucksville it's absolutely FREEZING in here, PLUS i have pretty much caught you up so i'm gonna leave and add the pics at home later...

a certain thursday which threw a drumstick in travel plans, an epic Vancouver trip that wasn't and rain. LOTS and LOTS of rain... by geoffrey nichols

so i apologize if you were waiting on this installment with baited breath. I have no valid excuse other than i kinda forgot... but here i am in the bucolic Pleasanton, CA.

the previous entry had me just getting to the Seattle suburb of Issaquah where i spent the oh so soggy days hearing "Pogba!" (see below)

on 11.22 we cheered on Seattle Sounders FC in the 1st leg of the MLS Western Cup Finals at CenturyLink field where of course it rained, but it didn't matter cause i had green & blue hair!

i was invited to spend thanksgiving with my hosts which was lovely and preferable to spending it in cold & soggy Vancouver, BC which i did the next day... which brings me to "an epic Vancouver that wasn't" -- i learned the hard way that one should not "wing it" when it comes to traveling outside of the US, EVEN if that's simply a trip over the border. (i failed to get international calling plan so my phone was rendered virtually useless which then made my attempts to secure lodging via AirBnB that much more difficult. so let me just cut to the chase... I basically spent $200 going to Canada for some adequate chinese spicy noodle soup)

Eventually i departed Seattle and made way south to the Oregon coast where i just HAD to experience Haystack Rock which you will recognize from GOONIES and as awesome as that was had i known i would spend the next 68 miles on some of the darkest, windiest, wettest and foggiest mountain pass roads of my life there's a good chance i would've skipped it.

tuesday found me arriving in the pastoral enclave of Yamhill, OR where my friends have a charming compound and TWELVE prize-winning Tibetan Mastiffs.

Wedneday had me traveling with Lois to PDX at dawn where i explored the city until taking the bus across town to the artsy/ bohemian east side and a lunch time viewing of Arsenal at the coolest dive bar i've encountered in some time, Beulahland.

the end of the week saw me driving south through some of the most amazing farmland i've every seen. billiard table flat, green expanses of land dotted with sheep being illuminated by sunlightpiercing through clouds as i traveled to Crescent City, CA

near sunset i found my way through a VERY sleepy coastal town to spy a famous lighthouse perched on rocky mushroom of an island and that night i slumbered in THE coolest motel constructed in 1957 from ONE giant redwood tree!!!

Saturday had me winding my way down the NorCal coast along one of the most tranquil roadways imaginable.

by nightfall i landed in my mother's former town of Calistoga where the annual Xmas lighted tractor parade was taking place.

a couple of days relaxing in mountaintop retreat with friends of mom was a fantastic treat and then i meandered down towards San Francisco where I'm writing to you now.

so, as you obviously noticed, tardiness in writing as rendered this submission rather scant, BUT there will still be the images which is really what everyone cares about! ;D

 

it appears i've been distracted by the rainy Emerald City... by geoffrey nichols

because I haven't updated this for quite some time, but i'll do my best to recall what's transpired on the journey since.

well I spent my time in Bozeman visiting dear friends with hikes, vintage sign & car snapping... and i didn't get eaten by any bearsin the mountains (but of course something REALLY bad happened a couple tuesdays ago... and that doesn't even include the passing of my "Mommom" aged 97 years. xoxo Lena)

"black wednesday" had me exploring some of the traditionally industrial areas now turned artistic enclave and most awesome was the behind the scenes look at Hot Mama salsa & burrito company.

we left early thursday morning, but not before experiencing the absolute one of a kind, Granny's Donut shop. we then headed west towards historic Missoula in route to the lake town of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. (but before arriving we stopped in the charming Wallace to witness a unique collection of "vintage whimsy")

at 5:30am friday morning i walked down to the local greasy spoon featured on Diners & Drive-In and ordered the same meal as Guy (chicken fried steak & eggs with gravy and potato scramble)

and because the town was COMPLETELY blanketed in fog there simply was no point in sticking around after breakfast so we made way for Seattle. a gratuitous stop at rest area just across the state line found us meeting a Ladies Auxiliary donating coffee & donuts as it was Veteran's Day. a couple hours later i came upon the geologically exquisite Wild Horse scenic overlook. by early afternoon i made it to Angle Lake and the home of friend I hadn't seen since the '90s.

on Saturday morning i drove into Seattle proper for the first time in my life and got to see it as I'd always envisioned it... wet & stormy! Breakfast took place at the perfect vintage whimsy locale, that night i took light rail into downtown for billiards in pioneer square and pizza in Capitol Hill.

the next few days found Pixie & I taking the train into the city for walking tours along the piers and famous Pikes Place market (yes, where they throw fish and the location of the first Starbucks)

on wednesday we took the train to the Bainbridge Island ferry which reminded us a bit of Old Greenwich. Thursday was spent doing tourista things like Snoqualmie Falls and the adorable historic town of the same name.

the end of the week became a visit to the burbs of Issaquah and youth soccer (really REALLY windy youth soccer!!!)

 

a glorious week as "one of the family", a Bald Eagle sighting, but amazingly NO POTATOES! by geoffrey nichols

So my time in Idaho with childhood friend and his 5 girls (well, one wife and 4 girls) was magnificent in that they live at the end of a dirt road nestled into the crux of some small hills surrounded by nothing more than sage brush and horses. The stars were so insanely luminescent at night and void of any light pollution that i truly wished to sleep under them (but fear of hungry animals and sub-freezing temps thwarted that)

so my first full day in Hailey was interesting in that i couldn't believe just how DARK the valley was when i awoke. eventually my hosts and their kids stirred (though nobody had to rush off for school because for some reason Halloween is a apparently a holiday)

Jesse took me "up north" about 10 miles into the town of Ketchum where the famed Sun Valley ski resort is located for an amazing coffee & breakfast burrito which we enjoyed on a sofa in the sitting room of small house turned cafe.

the early evening brought trick or treating (which in a mountain with no street lights proved to be QUITE dark)
tuesday consisted of another trip to Ketchum where i experienced one of the cooler Starbucks i've seen and then i introduced Jesse to Arsenal with a "come from behind" win capped off by a truly brilliant play by Mesut Ozil 

on wednesday morning I INSISTED on driving the girls to school (which my ear drums soon regretted) - by midday it was a guys outing to the town of Stanley some 60 miles north which turned out to be one of the most visually amazing drives i've ever been on... and THAT'S when i spotted the Bald Eagle!!!

and by "town" i really should preface Stanley as being a settlement (which is also basically closed for the winter, but there was one saloon open where i had a much needed Coca-Cola)

thursday involved mostly relaxation at the homestead and some more exploration of town and then capped off with a brilliant asian meal at a bistro surprisingly open at 9:30

on friday morning i took off just after dawn to capture early light though the mission proved mildly uneventful i DID get a couple of strong images which you'll see. MOST importantly, friday evening was highlighted by a stage performance of "How Succeed in Business without Really Trying" which the eldest girl was a part of.

apparently saturday was quiet as i scant images aside from some portraits i took of the 4 daughters for the obligatory Christmas Card.

Sunday found me waking at 5am to watch North London Derby (Arsenal vs neighbor Tottenham) and once all the girls woke up Pixie & I ventured off for Montana. Numerous stops for vintage Jeeps, unique modern architecture, Craters of the Moon National Park and the quaint Lost River area had me navigating north into Big Sky country in the dark which isn't my favorite, but was simply how the day turned out.

one day into Bozeman and I'm already understanding why my friends adore it so much. anyway, i'll catch up with you all probably in Seattle.

peace & love

 

the nostalgia rush of Colorado, the other worldly majesty of Utah and arrival in the potato state by geoffrey nichols

it's quite an interesting sensation to return to a place you called home for nearly a decade even 20 years later. despite all the obvious changes in scenery in terms of neighborhoods 2 decades of growth entail, there's simply an underlying feeling that things haven't changed. (at least that's how i perceived my one-time home.)

well enough of that introspective pontificating, let's get back to how Pixie & I spent our time in Colorado... Monday morning we woke in Boulder where we'd been the guests of honor at my faux cousins house for sunday night dinner (thank you, Aunt Jodie for such a wonderful occasion)

Before heading back into Boulder for another nostalgia rush tour, i pulled into Gunbarrell Vet so Pixie could have her ONE annoying nail trimmed (thank you, GBV)

after visits to old homes, campus, the cemetery and Chautauqua (where both Pixie AND "Flat Stanley" posed before the Flat Irons, i headed off to Denver Broncos game with a childhood friend i hadn't seen since i was the best man at his wedding in the summer of '97

tuesday had me back at Three Lions Pub to cheer on Arsenal for a Cup match (which we won) then i investigated south Broadway and attempted to have Volvo dealership fix my drivers side mirror (which they informed me they couldn't FIX but could replace... for $550. no, thank you)

Pixie and I ventured out to the new urbanization enclave of Stapleton with Mandy & Billy so they could wash their dog and then we all had extremely unique burgers at local Cherry Creek institution for game 1 of the World Series. 

wednesday morning had me waiting for the Post Office to open so i could overnight my absentee ballot form back to Greenwich, then i snap'd a batch of vintage motels along east colfax before a FANCY lunch at Sushi Den (still amazing and now even MORE $$$) Mandy & I then explored the museum district for possible locations for my art (no such luck) and then found THE MOST EPIC sneaker shop in the basement of a hipster clothing store. The outing finished up with a visit to revamped Union Station (which is STUNNING!) the always impressive Tattered Cover bookstore and one of my favourite bars EVER & architectural landmark, The Cruise Room.

Thursday consisted of a walk to Denver museum of Arts & Science with the dogs, phenom happy hour snacks* at cool ass rooftop bistro in former mortuary, a vintage neon sign tour on Colfax and homemade chicken enchiladas. (plus an impromptu encounter with Halloween yard designers during late night dog walk)

Friday saw me say goodbye to my friends and Denver, but NOT before i stopped for breakfast at the coolest vintage diner, Davie's Chuck Wagon (i had steak & eggs) Numerous stops in the likes of Dillon, Frisco and Grand Junction for photo opps, coffee and pee breaks compelled me NOT to venture onto Moab in the dark so we called it a day in GJ surrounded by a charmingly sedate downtown and glowing mesas.

saturday morning had me awake at 5:27am which was great because Arsenal match kicked off at 5:30 and i was able to watch via my iphone for much of the 1st half (annoyingly the app kept crashing so i missed the 3 goals in 6 minutes we scored to put match away)

getting back on the road to Moab i decided to see what the Colorado National Monument was all about and i'm very glad i did because it was such an awe-inspiring venue (and park ranger, Willoughby brought the most amazing level of geological knowledge and civic pride to her work)

i'm almost embarrassed by the fact i lived in Colorado for nearly 10 years and never knew anything about CNM until this weekend. it simply is a marvel to behold.

eventually i did make it to Moab valley and i must admit it mildly overwhelming faced with the options before me; Arches National Park, Canyonlands NP, Zion and Dead Horse Point to name a few. BUT since time & daylight were evaporating and Salt Lake City wasn't getting closer i chose Arches as it's RIGHT there as opposed to the others which are dozens of miles away.

Let me just state that Arches is NOT OF THIS WORLD. It's akin to being on the planet Mars. every few hundred yards is a geological marvel and in the 2 plus hours of exploration i must've pulled over a million times and snapped even more pics.

now remember i STILL had to drive 3 - 4 hours north and wasn't looking forward to it in the dark and was even LESS thrilled to be doing so once i discovered 1.5 hours of the drive would be spent on route 6(a pitch black, 2-lane highway traversing a mountain range populated with 18-wheelers and hard driving pickup trucks.) by the time i got down into civilization i was absolutely exhausted mentally & physically and since having a drink wasn't feasible i downed a fried chicken sandwich and fries. another 45 minutes on a 5-lane brightly lit highway through SLC had me at my uncle's which was such a relief because having to pony up for a motel room REALLY woulda sucked after that drive.

sunday morning had me up and out of SLC pretty early. the drive north towards Idaho was so deceptively stunning. There was a sequence in which the valley stretched SO incredibly far i don't recall ever seeing anything so vast (and the hazy pastel lighting enhanced the experience to such an extent it pained me that i can't share it with you now)

the transition into Idaho brought cold, gray and wet which after weeks and weeks of heat & sun was a welcome sight. and the LANDSCAPE... at one point we drove right through a prehistoric lave rock field! LAVA ROCK!!!

stretches of vintage whimsy graced us as we drove through historic hamlets like Shosone and Bellvue on our way to Hailey and the home of one of my oldest and dearest friends.

an adorable ghost town, tumbleweeds, "don't pick up hitchhikers... prison area" and a return HOME... by geoffrey nichols

last sunday we departed San Antonio for the new found hipster mecca of Marfa and from what i glean there wasn't a lot in between but west texas and my inner thoughts.

BUT!!! Marfa did turn out to be the quiet treasure i hoped it would be SIMPLY by being just that... a very quiet treasure of no discernible quality. (and yes, i fathom now the previous sentence in all its ambiguity might not render the reader with the slightest idea of what i'm hoping to convey)

simply put, Marfa is an oddly charming spot largely BECAUSE there's nothing to it. When i arrived in the very late afternoon i thought perhaps it was closed for the season and no one had told me... the streets were absolutely void of any other human life. it was like a scene from an apocalyptic film where 1 guy wakes up to find he's the last person on earth. (and i LOVED it!!!)

architecturally the place is SOOO me in that it's filled with restored art deco buildings (and some not quite restored), there are bits of vintage whimsy scattered everywhere and at times a sense that it's still 1963.

of course i WANTED to check into retro fabulous, THUNDERBIRD MOTEL, but for some reason they didn't feel compelled to ever answer the phone OR respond to voicemail (and at $250 a night i'm glad they didn't because "fuck off!")
i did however find a truly retro motel which DOESN'T charge through the roof for it's vintageness and after learning the PRADA store isn't actually IN Marfa i decided to relax and wait for darkness to arrive so i could venture back into the desert for one of the hamlet's claims to fame, The Mystery Lights.

unfortunately they didn't turn out to be the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND i hoped for, but if i hadn't gone i'd be even more disappointed. Some token exploration of town later that night was due more to the fact Pixie hadn't pooped since Austin because patches of grass are at a premium in southwest Texas, but we did find a gorgeous shrine to St. Mary and a very seedy bar which i will venture into on a future visit (and not solo)
monday morning at dawn brought another walking tour with camera in (though i missed an AMAZING opportunity to capture a freight train rumble through town with full moon in the pale blue sky because i didn't think to TEST the camera moments before!!! >;-(
(yet another reason to visit)

before rolling out of Marfa, Pixie & I visited the NPR station so we could donate to the cause (i REALLY wanted one of their stickers) and thank them for playing Bob Dylan's "Mozambique" the night before.
Now even though many people are aware of Marfa because of the PRADA store, it isn't ACTUALLY in Marfa... in fact it's about 30 miles away in a TEEEENY TINY crossroads called "Valentine" (population around 200 and change!)
I snagged a couple photo opps of the Volvo, Pixie and the Volvo, but not JUST Pixie as the sun was behind the store so visually there were major issues because of lighting.
after meeting a darling couple from Australia in the midst of a similar journey (as i type this they are ALSO in Denver!) I trudged on to El Paso where I arrived in the late afternoon to find myself waiting for a friend in a very cool "vintage whimsy" dive bar called the Monarch (which just happened to serve AMAZING iced coffee and was owned by Arsenal supporters)
Tuesday consisted of photoshoots & sight-seeing in downtown El Paso with local model and Instagram star Vixenbay aka Robin Lujan.
The UBER retro diner Elmer's saw that my final meal in the Lone Star state was quintessential Texas and then we set off for White Sands National Monument just across the state line in New Mexico which WAS visually stunning but given the midday temp and my traveling partner we weren't able to enjoy it as much as i would've liked... but DEFINITELY visit if you can!
Now, the only downside of the "WSNM" excursion was it meant i had to take a county road north to Santa Fe, which was fine during the light of day, but once twilight sunk in the prospect of oncoming 18-wheelers in the middle of nowhere was NOT all that enjoyable.

eventually we made it to the enchanting Santa Fe where we found ourselves greeted by church bells and most gracious hotel managers (even though we DIDN'T stay at the posh lodge) an early morning tour of town led to some pics, a bird crapping on my head and as we departed an "off-menu" breakfast by Chef Ever at his Tapas truck!

Northward we charged towards Colorado and by early evening we arrived in Park Hill, Denver and the calming sight of Volvos, CLINTON signs and of course... legal MARIJUANA (not that i partake, of course)

The past few days as resulted in nostalgic visits to Boulder, frustrating Arsenal viewing at epic soccer centric pub and long-overdue visits with old friends and faux family.

we will be heading off to UTAH & Idaho in the coming days and will resume blog soon.
 

trekking across the Lone Star state... to Austin & San Antonio by geoffrey nichols

eventually i departed Houston, the amazing hospitality of my good friend and all the wonderful people he introduced me to...

as we set off for Austin on thursday, we were barely 20 minutes on the road when i spied a GIANT SHRIMP on the rooftop of a shuttered roadside attraction and OF COURSE got off on the next exit and doubled back!

later in the day, i came upon the village of Carmine (pronounced, "Carmean", i learned from Vicky who owned the Pie Shack which was a tiny building moved there in 1900 and once acted as the local doctor's office where husband was born many decades ago)

upon arriving in Austin we found ourselves in the campus and specifically at the UT football stadium (which is INSANELY huge) and also unfortunately with a lodging snag... our hosts had forgotten they already had guests in route so I was forced to call an audible (sorry for the football metaphor but it seemed to fit)

i drove around aimlessly for a spell, but then found a frontage road adjacent to a large river and explored the area which appeared to be THE exercise destination as countless runners, cyclists sped past. We crossed a pedestrian bridge under a vehicular one which took as to a vast park where the Austin City Limits music festival was being dismantled. The heat of late afternoon took its toll on both of us so we meandered back up towards where we parked as i noticed a juice shop hidden behind a commercial duplex. there we met the darling Madison who informed me that YES she was named after the movie SPLASH and steered me where to find cool shops, eateries and bohemian types... South Congress.
it turned out that a very VINTAGE WHIMSY motel was located there so our lodging issue was also settled.

We strolled the area for a few hours (after resting in a ridiculously cute motel room) and indeed it Austin turned out to be everything i hoped it would be; vintage, whimsical, artistic, liberal and hip (and possessing girls with fuscia dreadlocks hula hooping beside a very popular outdoor bar)

Friday morning was blanketed in fog and then pouring rain which at first concerned me because i hurried to find indoor activities, but within the hour the scalding sun was back and i simply returned to figuring out how we'd spend the day...

after another trip to juiceland i decided to visit the uber trendy FRANKLIN'S BBQ and after standing in sizable queue learned they'd just run out of ribs AND i was an easy 1.5 hrs from dining so we drove out to another icon i'd been told about; The Salt Lick. and WOW!! about 30 minutes of driving into the countryside found us at an ABSOLUTELY HUGE venue! at any given time they can feed 860 people inside & outside (not including their special event location on the hillside above it)

a post-lunch drive through quintessential Texas country was quite satisfying and resulted in my spotting THE coolest Texaco station / Country store circa early 20th century in a tiny enclave called "Driftwood"

despite wanting to see the 40 million bats at Braddock Cave, it seemed i'd have to settle for the 1.5 million which depart from Congress bridge every night at dusk so we set up shop along with countless others and waited... and waited. but apparently this late in the season means they come out when it's dark... so they were EXTREMELY difficult to see. (but i saw them)

now there was a certain issue at hand and that was "where are we going to sleep?" because of the film festival all the hotels were either booked or ridiculously $$$ so in a huff i started heading out of town... UNTIL i decided i needed chocolate milk and stopped at gas station near a very scary Motor Inn which was COMPLETELY not pet friendly even with Pixie's therapy tag.

well, as i exited the store i noticed mural painted next door and went to investigate and learned it was painted by former Venice neighbor & friend, Jules Muck! As facebooked her where i was standing i noticed another message that had never been delivered because i wasn't actually connected to the sender BUT it was from a local who girlfriend from HIGH SCHOOL living in Holland had contacted on my behalf!
instead of driving off into the night with no destination in mind, i was soon staying in an EPIC midcentury modern compound!! (serendipity can be a very beautiful thing)

This morning Pixie and I donned our Arsenal kits and watched with scores of other Gooners (and Goonerettes) at the Austin home for our beloved club, The Tavern. I invited a couple to share our table and we became fast friends sharing numerous loves outside of Arsenal.

Next up was the drive to San Antonio which we found hosting a Red Bull Cycling event at the Alamo and explored the truly enchanting River Walk for a number of hours meeting recent Air Force grads, tourists from Nashville, transplants from NYC and of course the locals.

I'm now about turn in and ready myself for the 6hr journey to Marfa in the morning.

thanks for your interest and enjoy some of the images...

 

 


 

my first ever week in TEXAS by geoffrey nichols

this state seemingly looms larger in popular culture than it does in actual acreage, but even the scant amount of "Lone Star" state which i have seen so far (the Megopolis of Houston) is rather daunting.

i arrived in the northwest suburb of Cypress around 7 last sunday after a 5+ hour drive from New Orleans (where Pixie & I watched our beloved Arsenal win on the final kick)

my dear friend Lloyd, whom i met 16 years ago on a flight from NYC to Ontario, California, has been living here in Texas for the past 14 years and has graciously invited me to visit countless times so i was really excited to take him up on it.

now for some reason Lloyd thought i might be in the mood for pizza and to that i responded with a puzzled head tilt akin to what Pixie exhibits when asked something. for you see, when Lloyd & I get together we eat Korean food... LOTS & LOTS of Korean food* (mind you, Lloyd's Korean so perhaps he just calls it food. (to steal a line from FRIENDS)

so with pizza 86'd we set out to the Korean "all you can eat" where a collection of Lloyd's friends awaited us. now, i'm not sure if it's because i hadn't had proper Korean food in 2 years or because i hadn't eaten since breakfast, but we DESTROYED the place.

after dinner, Lloyd & I (and the dogs) enjoyed cigars by the bonfire in his backyard which buttresses the 7th fairway of Sterling Golf Course so a grand Texas night sky was our entertainment.

the next we ventured into Houston proper where Lloyd wanted show me a very cool spot called The Dunlavy where, coincidentally enough, former Greenwich resident Christina Odelfelt happened to be near (she spotted a FB post of mine sunday night and so we spoke of getting coffee) so we had rather impromptu GA/Brunswick reunion of 2.

the day was capped off with a trip to TOP GOLF which is basically a sports bar mixed with a driving range mixed with an arcade (and though i was complete rubbish after not having golfed in 6 years, i DID get the top swing of the day with a 75-point blast to the back screen some 200+ yards away)

tuesday consisted of a trip to NASA where my jaw dropped and mind was blown repeatedly. now i should also mention that Lloyd had been telling me of a BBQ joint he was eager to try for 2 days, but after NASA went long and the traffic proved daunting we arrived at Gatlin's FOUR MINUTES after they ended lunch service!!! (our profound hunger was quashed across the street at crappy Tex-Mex joint but you don't need to hear about it, though it IS significant for later)

Here's the aforementioned "later"... we had dinner plans at the home of his friends, Nick & Penny (the latter being from what i was told and learned an AMAZING cook) Now, after a rather long dog walk & nap i was STILL quite full from lunch and kinda hoped we'd pass on dinner, but that wasn't the case and i'm so thrilled because Penny prepared the most impressive Vietnamese feast that i totally forgot i wasn't even remotely hungry.

wednesday i took "Darth Volvo" over to Lloyd's garage for a much needed oil change and then headed down to Spring Valley where i lunched with high school crush, Margaret Flood, for the first time in 24 years and then visited high school era chum John Conlon in Sugar Land for dinner where i met his baseball phenom sons and darling wife who introduced me to the VERY Texan tradition of formal dance MUMS*

on thursday pixie & i set off from Sugar Land to explore the Gulf Coast city of Galveston (which before the storm of 1900 was the "Paris of America") and to our delight we discovered a ferry which took us AND "Darth Volvo" over to Boliver penninsula where we encountered a dead Fort, a seemingly endless road, a guy brandishing assault rifle in his front yard AND most importantly THIRD COAST COFFEE which will go down as one of the most fantastic bits of whimsy i've ever had the good fortune to experience.

we later met up with my cousin Seth whom i had not seen since approx 1983 and walked along the beach and then to an iconic area dive for fried seafood.

Friday was a day for culture as i ventured down to the Menil Collection where i was treated to the works of Max Ernst, Magritte, Picasso's line drawings, and many more brilliant pieces. i also stumbled upon THE most adorable hand-made teddy bear in the gift shop which i procured for my nephew (but don't tell him!)
across the street, i noticed the Houston Center for Photography and took in a collection of work documenting America's obsession with guns. i quick tour of shops in Montrose showed me where hipsters hang, dine and buy awesome vintage 80s & 90s sports teams gear. (PLUS the very cool "scientific emperica" at Merchant)

dinner was an Argentinian feast with some of Lloyd's motorcycle crew followed up by cigars and cocktails at the garage of our host where i gawked at vintage bikes while chiming in on karaoke.

Saturday saw me track down a pair of running sneakers (yes, i know i have dozens at home i SHOULD'VE brought) because i've gained nearly 10 pounds in the 4 weeks of this trip.

and while Lloyd & company took a twilight motorcycle cruise, I chased light in the Volvo for a couple pics and then read hundreds of pages of a good book.


Sunday began with a drive into the farmland in a vintage Porsche 356 for a photo shoot which culminated in very few images but very many stalls...  including a MAJOR one on the side of the 290 freeway for about 20 minutes. fortunately she turned over and we were able to meet friends at a local sports bar where i devoured buffalo style shrimp and cursed the Philadelphia Eagles fumbling away a W in the waning minutes (yes, i loathe football but that doesn't mean i can turn off my Philadelphian heritage)

the week came to a close at the house with a Korean BBQ party in honor of my visit / trek and complete with presidential debate projected on a big screen so we could stuff our faces WHILE hissing at "The Donald"

At this point i should say what an amazing host my friend is and the people he surrounds himself with have been so wonderfully gracious it's tough to leave, but the rest of Texas and America awaits...
 

4 sundays ago... by geoffrey nichols

i left the familiar tranquility of my hometown and began this ever-morphing trek across time zones, state lines and decades of friendship with my "partner in crime" and in that time we've seen countless pickup trucks, pretty much any food stuff you could imagine fried and more gas stations than i'd care to remember...


i am so incredibly grateful and humbled by the generosity of all my friends and hosts during this time, for without them it simply would not be the same.

i will leave this "anniversary" update brief and resume again tomorrow with the stories & images of my first ever week in TEXAS.


 

from ATL > Nashville > Memphis > NOLA > Houston... Sooo many pickup trucks by geoffrey nichols

first off, i apologize for my tardiness in updating for over a week, but i've simply been covering so much ground and capturing so many images (and consumingtoo many fried things) that it didn't occur to me i'd been neglecting the blog.

i finally rolled out of ATL last wednesday after learning i COULDN'T leave on tuesday as a destination i'd been dreaming about (OLD CAR CITY USA) was closed, but worked out fine as i also learned of #tinydoorsATL (which is part of Atlas Obscura) so Pixie & I set out in search of as many as we could find.

the aforementioned OCC USA was visited on wednesday morning and to say i was in my glory would be an understatement (pixie not so much) after walking the grounds for a couple hours and basking in the rusted splendor of 4200 decrepit vintage automobiles i realized Nashville wasn't getting any closer so we took leave of the Peach state and headed northwest.

now the curvy roads of the Smoky mountains were enjoyable as the afternoon sun danced through the trees, but the fact i was listening to Arsenal's Champions League victory against Swiss powerhouse, Basel made it even more so.

around dusk we arrived in the sleepy farm hamlet of Ashland City (about 30 miles west of Nashville) where dear friend and former writing partner, Robin, has lived for about 8 years.

Thursday had me searching "the hipsters guide to the south" (yes, i just admitted that) where i was directed to an absolutely stunning coffee house on the outskirts of east nashville called CREMA (picture Williamsburg with a twang) Then we explored Hillsboro village which vaguelly reminded me of Santa Monica. With the gentrified quotient satisfied, I decided we needed to experience Nashville proper (or as a friend mocked "Nash vegas") and while i appreciated the history of it, the overt alcoholic consumption aspect i found tedious.

My hosts took me to the local institution, Monell's for an epic family style meal in restored Victorian featuring communal tables, fried chicken and banana pudding and the sweetest "sweet tea" i'd ever had. (oh yeah, that was my first time ever HAVING sweet tea)

early friday morning we set out for Memphis, but not after i made a special jaunt 7 miles up the road from Robin's darling farm house to capture arguably the coolest Post Office i'd seen in some time.

around midday we rolled into Graceland where we got petrol from a FRIED CHICKEN joint across the street from the Elvis' palace and then we strolled the area making numerous friends including Harley riders from Ohio and a darling siren from Britain with the coolest name ever (Talizca) After as much Elvis as I could stand we headed back into Memphis proper with the National Civil Rights Museum our destination.
now when i say standing mere feet away from the spot where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated is overwhelming would be an understatement. It is PROFOUNDLY visceral and within moments of taking it all in I was in tears. Fortunately, the surrounding area is what they call "South Main Street Arts District" and it's a quiet boulevard strewn with extremely vintage store fronts still housing whatever merchants have been there since the 1950s OR hip, new stores & bistros.

eventually motel acquisition was necessary and after unloading the car of valuables and feeding pixie I went down to Beale Street to the witness the neon lights, music and tourists, but as far as dining was concerned ONLY Memphis style dry rub ribs at the local institution "Central" would suffice. Post-dinner, i found myself back on South Main, but this time it was abuzz with live music and revelers as it was a block partyknown as "trolley friday"

at dawn the next day i had biscuits & gravy on a bridge overlooking the Mississippi before getting on the road for Oxford where i promised my mom i would visit the renowned Square Books. A it turned out, the Rebels of Ole Miss were hosting Memphis so the town was awash in a sea of red * blue... with an amazing coffee from High Point and a collection of William Faulkner in hand I made tracks for New Orleans. As the sun descended over the bayou and illuminated the trees to a brilliant emerald i marveled at the primordial beauty of a place i'd longed to visit for decades.

unfortunately I spaced arranging a hotel room BEFORE my arrival so i spent an hour sitting in the middle of Tulane University talking to operators and front desks before getting a room "quite close to the French Quarter" (if by that you mean 13 MILES close)
Pixie & I did eventually find Bourbon Street, a giant teddy bear of a hot dog vendor, an amazing singer song writer and of course SCORES of inebriated people.
Sunday found us exploring the FQ again in search of fresh beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde and then Arsenal match at the home of NOLA Gooners, Finn McCool.
A goal on the last kick of the match was THE perfect way to send us on our way to Houston where we've been treated to a lavish Korean feast, impromptu reunions and state of the art golf range.
there's so much more to see & do here that i'm bound to be in H-town for a week at least.

thanks for your time and i'll see you from Austin

the many roads (and plates) that have led to ATL... by geoffrey nichols

so tuesday morning began early in Mount Pleasant, Charleston with Pixie & I walking the young sons of my dear friend to their school which resulted in 7yo boy tears and then 45yo "man boy" tears (because as their mom whispered to me while consoling "he doesn't want you guys to leave")

with "DARTH VOLVO" all packed, we headed back into old town Charleston for a going away "Nasty Charleston Biscuit" at Hominy Grill (with 2 chocolate puddings to go)

a quick stop off at an abandoned VA hospital to deliver said pudding to a set painter of yet to be titled NETFLIX original series, furnished me with the knowledge that such a place as the THUNDERBIRD Motel in Savannah existed (thanx, Mollie / Jodie)

a few hours of divided highway driving south (while listening to Arsenal's EFL match versus Nottingham Forest) got us to "the Forest City" aka Savannah where we did a quick tour before heading back OUT of the city in search for The Crab Shack, 16 miles away in the middle of swamp land and apparently Jimmy Buffet's idea of heaven.

numerous Cajun spiced "shrimps" & crab stew later, it was time to check in to "Savannah's hippest motel" and take a much needed shower.

because exploring a new city as twilight descends into evening is one of my favorite things, Pixie & I navigated the seemingly ancient cobblestone streets and befriended numerous SCAD* students with multiple shades of hair color (and lots of black clothing) and absolutely MARVELED at the campus with its blend of antebellum & post-modern architecture.

i made a deliberate effort on wednesday morning to capture "Garden CIty" as dawn broke, but unfortunately the sun & clouds conspired against me and i was left with rather drab light until later in the morning when i met former school chum, Chris Constas at the amazing Gutstein gallery.
with fantastic sandwich procured from hippie market, I flirted my way through lunch on a park bench with a pair of "little old ladies" from Kingdom's Hall (that's Jehovah's Witness)

4+ hours later i negoitated ATL rush hour which is not NEARLY as daunting as people warned (in fact it's rather cute considering i was subjected to LA traffic), BUT the scores of drivers emulating NASCAR was a tad unnerving considering i was on a foreign roadway.

with the Bombeck homestead found, canine & children fed, us adults enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous meal at the very artistically minded Le Fat.

Thursday began early with a much needed spiritual sojourn and then proved to be a very engaging day of art, architecture, sight seeing and korean tacos (as many of you know i HEART K-food AND tacos, but i was kinda disappointed)

amazingly, thanks to the randomness of 21st century social media i was able to enjoy an impromptu rendezvous with someone due to a FB or IG post for the THIRD time in less than a week!!! (and TWICE the person ALSO didn't even live in the city i found myself in!!!)

so with that said, I met a dear friend from my early days in Boulder, CO for dinner at a very epicurean locale called SEVEN LAMPS.

More touring of ART, ARCHITECTURE & CUISINE blended as one took place today as i experienced the GOAT FARM and PONCE CITY MARKET with my homeboy from LA, Dsquared.

these final sentences are being typed as George Michael's "freedom" ROCKS through the SONOS as CJB works her culinary magic.

i'll touch base from Nashville early next week.

peace

one week in... by geoffrey nichols

so i left Greenwich on the morning of September 11th and in that time i've traveled just over 1000 miles to reach 4 destinations ("Darth Volvo" has remained stationary at each location) and have encountered family, dear friends i haven't seen forever and new ones i hope to have forever...

i've been taken to see the home of Edgar Allen Poe, giant Adirondack chairs which say "LOVE", an 1850s cotton mill and the site of the Civil War's beginning (though they don't say "CW" here. it's referred to as "the great unpleasantness"

i've had spectacular meals, i've seen natural beauty and i've witnessed the remnants of our nation's history.

and as i think back on the all the wonderful families WE have stayed with this week, i must say that being made to feel like "one of the family" has been the most cherished aspect of this adventure. (and that i need to clone Pixie for all of them)

*** it has come to my attention that i'm having a vestibular reaction to an afternoon boating yesterday and so i'm rather dizzy.

ttyl

 

the road to Charleston... by geoffrey nichols

after Pop Tarts and coffee, my gracious hosts took me for a SUP tour of "Dawson's Creek" (yes, that one) i ventured south down route 17 towards the home of my college roomie and family (whom i hadn't seen in nearly 20 years)

with a couple U-turns for "vintage whimsy" and a stroll through Hammock Village, i eventually made it to Mount Pleasant where i was greeted by Charles, his darling wife and adorably snarky kids (one of whom was holding an Arsenal soccer ball)

youth soccer led to BBQ (LOTS of it) and eventually bed.

an annoying bout of insomnia didn't put me in the mood to surf this morning (that coupled with the fact i don't know HOW to surf AND didn't feel like getting wet & sandy)

finding the Arsenal match online proved mildly annoying, but the boys & cheered the Gunners on to victory with obscene bowls of Lucky Charms and coffee (well, i had the coffee)

a short lived trek downtown turned into an AMAZING lunch at what is one of the most uniquely pure luncheonettes i've ever experienced... H&R Sweet Shop & Soul Food
more youth soccer followed (along with a mid-game DOWNPOUR) and then a trip to the tennis courts where i sweated out that amazing BBQ, cheeseburger and every other bit of Southern i've consumed over the past week.

i've just returned from a VERY muggy walk around the Charleston College campus and adjoining historic downtown.

a rainy day in Wilmington. by geoffrey nichols

we slept unusually late (7:25), but since it was raining it didn't feel like i was missing out on much (and Pixie NEVER cares about waking up early)

after a simple breakfast and much needed shower, we made tracks for historic downtown Wilmington where Spanish moss lined trees canopied wide boulevards adorned with cobblestone and grand manors.

my experience was an eclectic mixture of decades old architecture, intermittent rain and a zombieland atmosphere (and REALLY good tacos)

the sun eventually parted the storm clouds and once it did the area was bathed in ethereal afternoon light and my host escorted me to one of the most exclusive golf clubs in America* where I did not actually PLAY golf, but DID navigate the course with cart and cameras in order to acquire images for a pending deal with the PGA.

the day culminated with dinner on the palm tree and waterfall lined patio of a very hip sushi bistro under a majestic almost full moon.

and i must say, that acquiring new friends far surpasses any vintage whimsy i could ever hope to encounter. my deepest thanks and appreciation to Liz & Patrick Smith, their darling children and their pets for hosting Pixie & I these past 2 days.

sometimes a search for wild horses on the beach results in only mosquitos... LOT & LOTS of mosquitos by geoffrey nichols

so due to some WiFI issues (and i simply forgot while spending time with my cousin and his family) after my drive from Parkville, MD to Chincoteague Island, VA there was no post yesterday, but many of you know what transpired if you follow my trip related Instagram feeds.

which brings me to TODAY where i attempted to photograph the wild "ponies" at the nature preserve, but as the above title would indicate that didn't happen. (but again, you'd DEFINITELY know if i had already)

(but before i forget, i must share that my cousin's adorable stepchildren, Hannis & Lola spoiled me with attention which consisted of numerous pieces of art, coin collections AND a nearly 100 year old horse shoe for good luck on my journey.)

now getting back to what happened earlier... i left the darling island of Chincoteague after breakfast and made my way south to where i encountered the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel (and the scores of dead sea gulls lining it) 

usually i have no qualms with a 23-mile causeway of sorts, but i DO generally avoid underwater tunnels with on-coming traffic. (fortunately i had NPR New Orleans classical streaming and i was able to experience the surreal juxtaposition of Richard Strauss' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Also_sprach_Zarathustra_(Strauss) as i emerged from the the Leviathan ;D

after surviving that i arrived in Virginia Beach where i decided in ONE second that i was stopping at TASTE for lunch (and cause i really had to pee)

but since Wilmington, NC was still a good 4hrs plus away, Pixie & I ventured on southward where we encountered a man with a lost parakeet at the Blue Highway rest area just over the state line in NC (though distressed, he assured me this as happened before)

as dinner time rolled around the effects of the a major storm looming over South Carolina brough rather ominous skies, but nothing significant came of it and eventually i found the home of "friends of friend" and have THOROUGHLY enjoyed the most amazing southern hospitality (via transplanted Chicagoans)
at present i am situated in a state of the art AIRSTREAM beside their lovely home and the marsh adjacent. more vintage whimsy exploration will occur tomorrow along with what i hope will be some golf related "art" for the PGA.
i am beyond bushed so fare well until next time.

 

 

Baltimore is MORE than just The Wire... by geoffrey nichols

it's decadent southern breakfast at a sidewalk cafe across the street from mid-century and art deco facades.

it's magnificent 19th century public works buildings and flocks of swooping pigeons darting above row houses in Little Italy.

it's historic waterfronts and cutting edge museums.

it's tranquil nature preserves and private schools. LOT & LOTS of private schools.

But mostly it's awesome.

day one... by geoffrey nichols

so after months and months of scheming, hoping and planning, The Vintage Whimsy Tour finally got on the road this morning. 

with the visceral atmosphere of 9.11 ceremonies in the background, i somberly executed "packing TETRIS" while contemplating just how fortunate i was to be doing such. (fittingly, the meloncholy of the day manifested itself in ominous clouds as i readied, but even MORE fittingly, gorgeous sunshine ultimately pierced the gloom.

a STARBUCKS card for trip was gifted to me during last-minute stop off at "auntie Margot's", and i took a leisurely route across the Tappan Zee on my way to see Mommom in Downingtown, PA.

*for the first time in numerous visits i did NOT screw up the SWEDESFORD RD interchange so i was able to arrive just in time to spend a painfully bittersweet moment with my 97yo grandmother, Lena.

after a trip to WaWa for petrol and a snack i took some beautiful country roads through the farm land as golden sunlight illuminated grain silos and vast green fields.

an ethereal twilight descended upon our first day as i entered Baltimore and the differences between where i watched the sun rise and set was striking. 

eventually digital correspondence with my Boulder sister, Gretchen led me to her family where Pixie has enjoyed sitting in new laps and stealing bully sticks.

i am exhausted on many levels and will enjoy sleep in a way i have not in quite some time... with prideful excitement.

good night.

 

this is only a test... by geoffrey nichols

if this were the real blog for my "Vintage Whimsy Tour" I'd be writing it from the road after a long day of driving and capturing images (and my pug "Pixie" would be snoring beside me), but instead I'm in the friendly confines of Greenwich Library and the glorious conditioned air it provides.

I spent the early part of my day preparing for the trip by cleaning my desk of EVERYTHING currently atop it and sorting through my closet for items i might need (and might NEVER need again) Although i don't exactly subscribe to the tenet of "if you haven't worn it in 6 months get rid of it", I have come to realize there simply are numerous items in EVERYONE'S closet that are better suited (no pun intended) in the closet of someone less fortunate.

So with a couple hours of "personal logistics" addressed at home, I decided to head into the "office" (read Starbucks) to handle business matters pertaining to the trip like corporate sponsorship and route planning.

Unfortunately Starbucks' business model is seemingly to either freeze you OUT of the store or INTO buying more coffee given the Arctic adjacent air-conditioning, hence my presence in the library (there are also FAR fewer teenage girls shrieking here)

Oh yeah, I also went to view a major commission in the pool house of a client between Starbucks and library so that's kind of important. (see below)

At this point i should probably figure out how to add images to subsequent entries as everyone will be far more interested in the day's images than my pontificating.

T-minus 28* days and counting...

*actual departure date yet to be determined.

 

"X-Files"