Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Statues of Rostov

V.I. Lenin

There are a lot of epic statues in Rostov. And what Russian city wouldn't be complete without a statue of Lenin.

Babushkas Everywhere

babushka |bəˈboŏ sh kə| noun

(in Poland and Russia) an old woman or grandmother. • a headscarf tied under the chin, typical of those worn by Polish and Russian women.

ORIGIN mid 20th cent.: Polish, Russian, ‘grandmother.’

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Rostov Family Home

The city of Rostov sits on the Don River just upstream from the Sea of Azov in western Russia. There are a little over 1 million people that live here. The first couple of days I was here, I noticed that there wasn't any distinctive architecture other than the old Rostov Family home. Turns out that the Germans destroyed this city 3 times - in 1918, 1941 and 1942. Rostov is a trippy place. Crumbling infrastructure everywhere; but plenty of new cell phones, all the latest fashions and trendy internet cafes. The dichotomy between the older and younger Russians is striking. The older ones still clinging to the poor, peasant look while all the younger ones are sporting the latest fashions. Times, they are a-changing.

Crash pad on the Don River

Underground walkway mural

Crumbling facade

Beat up trolley

Y'all can figure this one out

The Russian Circus building

All the fixins for a vodka and 7-Up

Train bridge across the Don River

Riverside cafe

Random dude eating a tomato

Russian mullet or gypsy cut

Kinda cool building

Friday, May 18, 2007

IBM Meets The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling

The Bundy Mansion

You're probably wondering what IBM has to do with The Twilight Zone. Well, let me tell you. I had to drive from Alexandria, VA to Quincy, MA via St. Clairsville, OH.(It's a long story) Anyway, I wanted to avoid the NJ-NYC area, so I detoured through Binghamton, NY. Binghamton was the childhood home of one of my favorite writers, Rod Serling. He was the creator of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, two unique and revolutionary TV shows.

Before leaving, I did an internet search in the hopes of finding a Rod Serling museum. Unfortunately, one doesn't exist, yet. This is where IBM comes in. Binghamton was also the home of Harlow and Willard Bundy. Willard invented the first time-recording clocks to record employee work hours. (Punch the clock, worker bee!) His brother, Harlow, manufactured and marketed the clocks. This company evolved into IBM. Serling is said to have "imagined time," Barlow is said to have "marketed" it.

The Bundy mansion is run as a museum; showing off an ornate, Gilded-Age, 14-room house. Those that run the Bundy mansion plan to open a museum in honor of Rod Serling in the house next door. Although the sign said the Bundy mansion was open from 11am-5-pm, it was closed, so I couldn't get a tour. Since I had some time to kill I drove around central Binghamton and took some pictures. There were quite a few interestingly designed churches.

I then stopped at the Lost Dog Cafe to grab some coffee. I ordered a Guatamalan Antigua. The beans were freshly ground and the coffee was prepared and served in a 14oz. French press. It was delicious. It had a hint of grape flavor in both its aroma and taste. Quite enjoyable. I didn't order food, but the plates I saw being served looked fantastic.

By the way, a suggestion to Upstate NY: Dump NYC and Long Island immediately. You are two completely different worlds. Do you really think that Hillary would be your carpetbagger Sentator if not for the NYC and Long Island vote? Yeah, neither do I.

Future home of Rod Serling Museum

St. Michael's Church

This guy means business

Crumbling RR overpass

Once upon a time at the Lincoln Hotel...

Looking up the Chenango River from a downtown bridge

The Lost Dog Cafe is housed in the bottom right corner of this building

Two steeples against a cloudy sky

This church design has an Arabic flavor

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shenandoah National Park

The 18th comment of my previous post - no doubt left by a bored Brit with time on his hands now that Man U has won the title - asked for another travel post. I was hesitant to post these, because they're not the most striking of photos, but here goes...

Last Friday I went to Shenandoah National Park and hiked the Whiteoak Canyon Trail with my younger brother and his fiánce. It was mid-50s and overcast; perfect day to hike. The trailhead is off Skyline Drive near the highest point in the park. The first mile or mile and a half is a gradual downhill that takes you to the stream drainage. You then cross over the stream, by bridge, and continue down a fairly steep canyon. The trail passes by 6 waterfalls. We got to the bottom of the 2nd waterfall, turned around and went back to the trailhead. All in all, about a 5 mile hike in about 2.5 hours. At first, we were kind of disappointed that more of the trees weren't leafed out, but then we warmed up to the haunted feeling of the bare forest.