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Waterfronts have been eventful

Posted on September 26th, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.

“Is that Champ?”

Champ, like Nessie, is a monster of the deep. The locals like to pretend he is as important as the legend. I doubt it. Champ kind of lacks the long-standing Irish legend aspect that Nessie has. In any case, a strange looking beast like Boxer getting his pictures taken at lake Champlain will bring joking questions like that.

In fact, if you were to tack that question on to the previous conversation that I kept having, it would be the same thing over again.

I likely sounded really tired and dismissive when this nice lady started the same conversation with me.

“You could say that,” I responded to her.

Sure, I’ll roll with the joke.

“What is it really?” She pressed further.

“My school’s mascot.”

“Oh? What school.”

I’ve been over this before. I’ve been over it enough times that it has become tough not to blow people off and be rude.

Be a people person, Dean.” She had told me back in Oregon, before I left. She was right. I responded cordially:

“Pacific University, in Oregon.”

I have noticed that the further east I travel, the more surprised people seem that I’ve been this far.

“Ohh, I’ve been to Oregon before.”

I almost responded with the answer to the usual next question. The follow up is always, “What is it?” while they gesture at Boxer. The response that that question is, “a Chinese dragon dog.” I stopped myself before opening my mouth. Telling her that Boxer is a dragon dog had little to do with her statement that she had been to Oregon. Now that I think about it, she hadn’t even asked me a question.

“Oh really?” I asked. I figured a question should be asked. Of course, I didn’t really care, I was just trying to be a people person. We were off the usual conversation track and I was winging it. Sometimes people respond to the standard conversation with complete non-sequiters, to keep me on my toes.

For instance, One lady in Detroit asked if Boxer was a goat. “Sure,” I told her. She then proceeded to tell me that she had seen two goats that very day.

“Live ones.” she assured me.

How so very relevant, Detroit lady. This lady, the one currently blazing a new conversational path, wasn’t nearly as bad as the random goat comment lady. We were talking about Oregon and we are now physically far enough from the state that to have simply seen it is an object of discussion.

“Yeah,” she went on “I have a family member who lives in Portland. He makes movies.”

“Portland is a beautiful city.” I responded, still uninterested. In most cases I would be more responsive to someone who appeared to actually want to talk, rather than just fulfill their curiosity and move on. In this case, it was still hot and muggy, I was tired and a little grumpy. Frankly I was feeling sorry for myself. It took a moment, but I caught up with the entirety of what she had said.

Wait a minute.

What did she just say he did?

A filmmaker in Portland?

“Does he find enough work there? I know several filmmakers that find themselves bartending in Portland.”

“He must, he just bought himself a house. He does freelance work, an assistant camera operator for most every commercial shot in Portland. There are only three people that do what he does in Portland.”

Now I was interested.

Just the day before, my host in Middlebury had told me, “You never know when you will need that one person you met while hiking in the middle of nowhere to help you network and find a job. Use your assets.”

The conversation progressed, the lady told me more about this 28-year-old guy doing what I would love to do. I mean, I don’t want to go to Southern California, I really don’t.

I want to stay in Oregon.

I gave her my card, she gave me her card. She took my picture and promised to send it to him. I’ve already emailed her, thanking her for the conversation. I suppose she may load up this site and read this post. I hope she finds that the conversation has been at least somewhat faithfully represented.

Our little talk ended and I finished up with my pictures and loaded Boxer back into my car.

It was time to take a walk and explore the shops near the waterfront. I needed cash to pay for parking (which I never ended up needing to pay) and I decided I could really use a sweetened drink.

I was in a really funky mood now. See, my hosts in Middlebury Vermont were good friends of my parents from 30 years ago. They have two daughters roughly similar to mine. These people love to parent.

God bless mothers and fathers like this, people who will take in any wayward soul in need of some food and a place to stay. They will advise and comfort, feed and provide, and in some cases they can provide all of the above with the right smile or kind word. All they ask in return is the simple promise that such gifts are helpful and needed.

They are, oh they are.

But, like all parents, it comes time to leave. I crossed the state of Vermont (in an hour) to go visit their daughter at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Burlington is the classic college town. Lots of old slightly run down houses lining slightly worn down streets next to a huge bustling eclectic downtown scene.

The whole town is obviously a college town atmosphere. While I was on the waterfront today I walked by a young guy sleeping upright on a park bench, head back, dopey smile on his face, joint (or possibly a hand rolled cigarette) gripped firmly in his lips. A person like that is only found in a college town. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, I was still scouting where I wanted to take my pictures.

My new host is definitely a college student. She is busy with lots of homework to do, pretend to do, to put off, or simply not do. She lives with four other girls that are all awesome, but busy. Everyone is coming in and out, running to this obligation or that. All day things change as people run around, busy.

“I have to go volunteer.” She told me. It is a class assignment. Last night she ran out to play broomball, a form of hockey played with a broom instead of a stick and tennis shoes instead of skates.

She woke up early this morning to go to class, though she lamented that she strongly considered just not going. She could miss one day.

Yep, that’s college.

I miss it.

I miss the obligations and the frustrations, the assignments and the guidelines, the politics and the parties. Mostly though, I miss the people.

I mentioned earlier that I want to stay in Oregon.

I’m not sure if that’s the case though. I want to stay in school. Unfortunately, school won’t stay around for me. If I go back to Oregon, all the people that I would want to go back for will leave, eventually.

I suppose I have a couple of years of friends there. I could work in Portland for a couple of years, getting some job experience in my actual field. I could hang out with those people still in school while getting a little more prepared to leave, because it is obvious to me that I’m not prepared to leave.

I mean, I was standing on the waterfront in Vermont, on a nationwide road trip, seeing the country and having fun doing it, wishing I was in Oregon.

That guy made it. He is a filmmaker in Oregon.

To say I was in a funky mood is definitely the best I could describe it.

I finally found that sweetened drink I had been looking for. It was in a “market and deli” that was more of a deli then a market. In fact, it was entirely a deli, without a market of any sort. They did sell specialty sodas to go with the sandwiches, including a Vermont Tangerine Cream Twister Soda. A brief glanced proved that it was, indeed, a hippie soda. It promised it had no artificial flavorings or colors. The ingredients list was short and everything was pronounceable, so I believed the natural claim. The soda was clear, so I believed the coloring claim.

It tasted simply delicious. It was just smooth enough to savor the orange flavor, just sweet enough to be a soda, and had next to no salt, so it was refreshing. Not to mention the bottle matched the color of the fallen leaves.

We’re going to Maine tomorrow. Boxer is going to see the Atlantic Ocean, at last.

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The Pond

Posted on September 28th, 2007 after 7753 miles by Dean Croshere.

I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive approaching last nights host. It was the longest stretch of a relationship I could possibly imagine without the comforts of simply being able to admit, "this person is a complete stranger that I met online a few minutes ago."

On my way to Maine, I crossed through New Hampshire where I drove around trying to find a good spot to take a picture of the trees. This is magnificently difficult. To try to capture the feeling of the changing trees in a picture is likely to be as insignificant as a "what I did this summer" essay is to be as to describe a summer vacation.

After New Hampshire I first came to realize that the apprehension I felt towards meeting these new people was greater than the apprehension I've felt towards anyone yet. Since I was here through an actual connection, it mattered what they thought of me and what I thought of them. If they had been strangers, a bad match would leave me to only either dealing with it for a night or simply getting in my car and leaving.

I first resolved to put off the issue by driving straight past their house, headed instead to the beach. At first I feared the beach may be some distance, but it turned out to only be half an hour. I may have seen the Atlantic ocean before, but if I did, I certainly didn't care.

This time I cared. The salt air that filtered in through my open windows as I approached felt great. I parked and ran up the little pathway over the dune to the beach with all the exuberance I used to have as a kid on weekend trips to the beach.

Thousands of miles (The mile counter hasn't gone up in a while because it has been several days since I put gas in my car.) later, I finally crossed the country.

The beach itself was nice. I noticed the sand was yellower than I was used to. Also, the waves were slightly larger than the ones on some of the lakes I've passed. In other words, they were pretty lame. Still, it was the beach.

For the first time in my life, I stood looking out over the ocean while the sun was setting at my back. I've seen the sun set over the ocean countless times, considering I lived on the west coast my entire life.

The difference was quite beautiful. The sunset behind me gave the clouds a range of soft purple hues that beautifully blended with the soft blues above them in the sky and below them in the sea. The lone seagull nicely offset Boxer to help balance the image. The resulting rainbow of freezing hues was a complete contrast to the sky that appeared to be lit aflame behind me.

Before I left, I turned and snapped a couple shots of the sunset up the beach. The result turned out to be one of my favorite pictures so far (I love sunsets, if it wasn't apparent).

Just in case anyone is curious what kind of tracks Boxer leaves:

I packed up everything and got back in my car, ready to meet this family. It wasn't long before she asked the question that had worried me so.

"So how do you know our family, again?"

"Well, see, your brother's wife."

"Rose."

"That's right, she lived in the same house as my mother 30 years ago."

"Wow, well we're not strangers to coincidences. I wouldn't have met my husband if we hadn't been at the same auto shop getting our pumps changed at the same time."

"Whoah."

They turned out to be wonderful people. I had a great time chatting with them and their son. She made dinner while we played pool. I was handily beaten three times before I decided to show them a favorite pool game of mine. There is only enough competition to make it interesting for everyone involved, but it is so difficult that I have yet to see anyone actually complete the game (though my hosts got incredibly close).

Dinner was fantastic and they assured me that I could stay as long as I wished (though a year might be pushing it, came the caveat). I was tempted, I really enjoyed staying with them, and I'm sure there is a lot to explore in Maine. I already had all my plans set for the next day though. I have a place to stay right outside Boston and I am ready to start hitting the big eastern cities I've heard so much about.

I'm currently writing this from right outside Brown University in Providence Rhode Island.

Driving into Rhode Island was interesting. First, because it is one of the few New England states with the good sense to actually use mile markers as a basis for exit numbers. Second, because I was supposed to take exit "27" from the freeway. I feared that this was 27 miles into the state. Instead, I turned out that, no, 27 is the second exit in RI. Highway 95 runs diagonally through the state - and that distance is only 27 miles. Got to love Rhode Island.

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They were bumming at least

Posted on September 29th, 2007 after 7753 miles by Dean Croshere.

It is high time to have another interesting bum post.

These guys are clearly not homeless, but they were trying to get my money so I guess it counts.

Their sign read, "Family slain by ninjas...need $ for Karate lessons."

I've heard the joke before, but I've never seen it. Plus, the guy with the guitar was playing Johnny Cash in a hardcore death metal fashion.

I laughed, took a picture and gave them a couple bucks.

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Pacific asked me for money today

Posted on October 2nd, 2007 after 8177 miles by Dean Croshere.

I haven't been out of the school for 4 full months and I got a call from a disinterested student asking me to donate back to my alma mater.

Seriously Pacific. 4 months.

He asked if I had put my media/philosophy degree to use yet.

Well, I suppose I have. I'm on a road trip writing about what is going on and I made a couple films about it, but I'm in no position to donate cash to the institution that has received more of my money than any other business.

I've heard the school calls recent alumni asking for money, but 4 months?

At this rate, they'll piss me off far sooner than I'll have money to give them.

I wonder if I should make this an "interesting bum" post, given that my criteria for a bum is someone trying to get money for nothing...

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Is that Bahston or Bohlyston?

Posted on October 2nd, 2007 after 8177 miles by Dean Croshere.

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

I had heard the question before. I assumed it was from a philosopher. After all, I first read it in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin replied with something along the lines of, “I came from my room, I’m a kid with big plans, and I’m going outside.”

I was wrong. Paul Gauguin was a painter. Well, I suppose he was probably a philosopher too, but his medium was not a book, but a painting. I saw it today at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. It was next to four original Monet paintings.

Previously, I have never been a fan of Monet. This is the case for impressionism in general. It just didn’t really do it for me. Pictured in a book, a poster, or even a slide on a wall, it didn’t have the impact that so many other awesome paintings did.

In a gallery though, the original paintings are breathtaking. They have such magnificent use of light that they seem to glow on their own. Then the textures of the paintings capture the gallery lights in such a fashion that as you walk across the room, the light shifts and highlights different parts of the subject.

Fantastic.

The first thing I did upon entering Boston (with my host graciously and thankfully driving), was head to the USS Constitution, otherwise known as Old Ironsides. The officer on duty played his cards perfectly as I was waiting in line with Boxer.

“At this point I would like to ask everybody to remove anything with any metal on it to place in the X-Ray scanner. That includes keys, electronics like cell phones, cameras, and iPods, you may also need to remove your wallet, belt, or large metal dragons.”

When I walked up to the ship, Boxer made the Navy woman on board the ship lose her place on her spiel. Halfway through a sentence she just trailed off as I topped the gangway.

I also stopped by Fenway Park, the other park in America that people care about on its own merits.

Unfortunately there was a game going on when I arrived, so I wasn’t going to be able to get Boxer onto the field. I tried to con a press guy and 2 separate security people to let me take some behind the scenes pictures, but there was no avail.

One of the security guys kept pressing me on what would happen if he ran off with Boxer.

"You wouldn't get far."

"But if I just picked it up and ran."

"I'd tackle you. Then I'd probably get arrested." I knew what answer he was looking for, but I didn't feel like giving it to him.

"But if you ended up losing him, what would happen to you."

He wanted to know what the school would do if I didn't come back with the mascot. I didn't want to tell him the answer, but I was done lying in the gutter taking pictures of Ted Williams. I gave it up:

"I don't know."

I was able to convince different security guy let me step around a fence to the loading bay for this picture.

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