Travel

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

I’m still laughing at this video even as I type up this quick post.  Richard Dunn found himself stranded at an airport after his flight was cancelled last week, so using his iPhone (and a wheelchair and a roll of packing tape) he set out to make a music video.

It starts strong and then it gets better.  Three thumbs up.

(Related: SOUR GRAPES.)

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Task #46 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: See the Red Sox play at Fenway Park

My initiation into The Cult of Red Sox began about 7 years ago when I visited Tim’s dad for the first time in upstate New York.  It was January, the snow was piled up high outside, and so we rugged up for a few days at their house and hung out.  Some of my happiest memories from that time were doing the New York Times crossword together, hanging out with Tim’s little stepbrother by the piano, and the 2004 World Series DVD box set.

Tim’s dad was very quick to ascertain the baseball status of the Aussie in his house as soon as I arrived.  He discovered that she didn’t have a team, she didn’t know the rules, and he had a couple of days to make a difference in the life of a foreigner.  I remember there being quite a lot of wine, attempted comparisons to cricket (from my highly-amused interpreter, Tim) and a couple of small interventions from the other members of the household when they believed I had reached saturation point.  

But his passion for the game, and for this team, was so infectious that I sat there for hours listening to him talk and watching the game highlights that he could fast-forward to from memory.

For Tim’s birthday last year his dad bought us both tickets to a game at Fenway Park for September, and the rest of our USA trip was pretty much planned around that date.

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I found Fenway Park itself absolutely fascinating.  It’s the oldest MLB stadium in the country that’s still in use, and due to the dense neighbourhood surrounding the park there have been some pretty creative extensions in its lifetime.  It’s one of only a few MLB stadiums that cannot seat 40,000 spectators, although its capacity has grown by a couple of thousand seats since it was built.

I was so lucky to be there with people who really loved and knew about the history of the park.  Without them I wouldn’t have known about The Lone Red Seat, which represents the longest home run ever hit at Fenway.  I may not have noticed that the scoreboard is still operated by hand, or that the scorekeeper occasionally sticks his head out his window to watch the game.  It was funny to see him chatting away to players from time to time.

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We won’t discuss the result of the game that day, or their performance throughout the entire season!  I’d rather remember people-watching the spectators, my spectacular hotdog and my very first pack of crackerjacks.  And I think I finally know my way around most of the rules.

PS: Good news for Elvis fans – I found him at Fenway Park.  He’s taller than I had expected.

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More photos of beautiful Boston over here.

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Bawsten.

by Elizabeth on February 23, 2013 · 0 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

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I visited Boston for the first time six years ago and I remember falling it love with her hard.  All the beautiful buildings, the Freedom Trail, the squirrels and the buskers and the food and the history – it felt like I’d found my North American home.  It reminded me so much of Melbourne that I wasn’t surprised when I discovered we were sister cities.

Our visit to Boston last September was a bit different to the last, mostly because we had so much to do in a short space of time.  We rented an apartment in the city through AirBnB (which, as it turned out, belonged to a reality TV contestant and E-grade celebrity) and we stayed there for 2 nights with one set of Tim’s parents.  We were so lucky to have them as our tour guides, plus they spoiled us with seats to a game at Fenway Park.  I have now been officially initiated into the cult of the Red Sox.

We ate really, really well in Boston.  We found a beautiful Italian restaurant in the North End, seafood on the waterfront (I miss you, Legal Seafood!) and the finest hot dogs and crackerjacks that Fenway provides.

My Fenway Park photos deserve a post of their own, but these are some of the other beautiful sights that we saw during our whirlwind stay.  I can’t wait to be back in this beautiful city.

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Tim’s Dad made me practice the pronunciation of Concord until I got it right.  Pro tip: Just say “conquered”.

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I <3 NYC

by Elizabeth on January 26, 2013 · 2 comments

in Travel, USA, Videos

Tim and I only had a very short amount of time to spend in NYC when we visited in October.  It was incredible that we were able to squeeze it in at all considering our ridiculous itinerary, but a sojourn to the city was essential.  We stayed for two nights in an apartment in Brooklyn, walked across the amazing Brooklyn Bridge and spent our one full day in the city soaking it all in.

We didn’t visit a single museum or art gallery.  We barely did any shopping.  We just walked and walked (and photographed) and walked and occasionally I took some video on my Nikon D800.

I bought my first manual focus lens while I was in the US (the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4) and used it to shoot most of the video I took in NYC.  I was shooting for practice mostly, but when I got home I realised I had a series of really cool clips that gave a sort of snapshot of the day we spent in the city.  The end result isn’t a comprehensive picture of everything we did (sooo many things I didn’t think to shoot!) but it still captures the essence of our time there.  And as long as you don’t mind a little bit of camera shake à la Blair Witch Project from my heavy camera rig you might like it too!

The video begins with a long scene shot just outside the Flatiron Building.  It was very late at night (past midnight, I think?), we were tired and happy, and I was seeing the Flatiron for the first time in my life.  All the accompanying photos in this post were shot from the point where I shot this opening footage.

Watch this in HD if you can.

NYC – October 2012 from Scarlet Words on Vimeo.

(There were a lot of butts in that video, right?  Sorry / You’re Welcome, whichever applies to you.)

A few of the clips from that video invoke memories for me that words could never completely explain.  Like the dejected-looking Cookie Monster of Times Square, or the intimacy between the two men with the sneakers who were waiting for their slice of cheesecake at the deli.  The rapper filming himself in the middle of the road, the student/teacher conversation at the bakery, and the interaction of The Naked Cowboy with the 14-year-old girls.  Lip-readers might have fun with that clip.

And by stripping away some of the city noise from these clips I felt like I was left with a truer sense of the pace of the city, as I experienced it.  Before my first trip to NYC I imagined it to be crazier, noisier, dirtier, scarier.  I didn’t know how wide the streets and pavement would be, and that so many buildings weren’t skyscrapers.  Instead the city felt welcoming to me and I instantly felt at ease there.

I know that so much has changed in the city in the past 10 years and that it wasn’t always as liveable or safe as it is right now.  I understand that I’ve always stuck to the parts of the city where I am unlikely to run into trouble, and that it helps to have my Americano by my side.

I just don’t think I could ever, ever get tired of visiting this place and surrendering to its rhythm.  I secretly hope we can live there someday, even for a year.

Want to see more posts about our stay in NYC?  Here they are:

Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Bridge
FAO Schwarz – Fifth Avenue NYC
Central Park, NYC
Strawberry Fields, Central Park NYC
Giant bubbles at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park NYC
The lights of Times Square, NYC
Streets of NYC

My next post will take you to Boston.

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FAO Schwarz – Fifth Avenue, NYC

by Elizabeth on January 9, 2013 · 3 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

I can only imagine how incredible it must be to visit FAO Schwarz as a child, because believe me – it’s pretty freaking great when you’re in your thirties.  This place isn’t just a toy store, it’s an experience and their collection of toys is beautifully curated.

And besides, it’s probably the only place you can buy an etch-a-sketch for $1500 (it’s completely encrusted in Swarovski crystals), a $30,000 3D motion simulator or a $25,000 Barbie foosball table. (If you want one of those you’ll need to be quick – only 8 of them were made and Charlie Sheen has already bought one of them!)

Of course you can’t talk about this place without mentioning the Tom Hanks film Big, especially that iconic scene with the floor piano.  It was pretty great to see it in person when we were there a few months ago.

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I imagine when you’re a kid this place must seem as though it never ends.  You’re greeted outside by a real toy soldier, whose main job seems to be to pose for photos and get kids extra excited.  When you walk through the door you find yourself in the Grand Hall, where you’re surrounded by a jungle of Steiff stuffed animals and racks of plush toys.

Upstairs is a seemingly endless maze of toy departments, all staffed by friendly people who encourage the kids to play with the stock.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I don’t remember any mess or a single bratty kid.  It was probably too mesmerising for mischief!

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FAO Schweetz was just as amazing as the rest of the store.  Aside from having an enormous collection of candy to choose from, it also boasts a range of BIG oversized confectionary.

Some of the best brands have collaborated with FAO to reproduce their products in giant sizes, and even the packaging is in perfect proportion.  If you can visit this section of the store without cracking a big, fat smile your brain is probably broken.

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There was plenty of competition, but that boy right there was the most delicious thing in the store 😉

There’s a section upstairs called the Whatnot Workshop where you can create your very own Muppet extra.  You choose the parts and they’re built for you in store while you wait, or you can jump online and use the Muppet Whatnot Workshop instead!  It doesn’t look like they ship internationally (boo!) but it’s still fun to play around with.

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Here’s a couple I made while messing around tonight:

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FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store in the United States, and in 2012 it celebrated its 150th anniversary.  These days it’s owned by Toys “R” Us and the flagship store in Fifth Avenue is now the only one standing.

Visiting the store fulfilled a wish that I’ve carried since I first watched Tom Hanks play that piano in Big, and it didn’t disappoint.  If you’re ever in NYC this needs to be on your to-do list, even (especially!) if you don’t have kids!

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The lights of NYC: Times Square

by Elizabeth on January 8, 2013 · 1 comment

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

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I can’t write a post about Times Square without posting this fantastic animated GIF.  I managed to track down the source for this one – it’s a segment of a beautiful video by Hang Zhang.  His time lapse film brings back so many memories of the places we visited last October.

Mention Times Square to a New Yorker and you’ll almost certainly get an eyeroll in return.  Times Square is one of those places that locals avoid like the plague, but it’s such an iconic part of the city that you almost have to go there once as a tourist.  I’ve been a few times now, and I can’t help loving it each time.

I mean sure, pick your time.  Don’t go there on New Years Eve unless you want to begin your year despising all of mankind.  Watch your bag, watch out for the people in costume, and definitely don’t attempt to drive through there unless you want to be abused by drivers and pedestrians alike.  If your head isn’t in the game it’s probably not a good place to be.

When we visited in October the weather was incredibly hot and humid, and we arrived at Times Square just in time for a strange looking sunset – little more than an eerie orange glow through the haze of the clouds.  It cast a warm tint on everything, and when I look at these photos I remember how heavy the air was with moisture.  It felt like soup, and it was raining just enough to be annoying, but not quite enough to need an umbrella.

The rain probably helped to clear away the less enthusiastic tourists, as I felt it was less chaotic than my last visit.

The people-watching here is amazing.

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See more of my photography from NYC, October 2012 here:

Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park
Strawberry Fields – Central Park
Giant Bubbles – Bethesda Fountain, Central Park NYC
Streets of NYC

 

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Streets of NYC

by Elizabeth on January 7, 2013 · 0 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

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Source: Tumblr. I can’t find the original artist, can anyone help?

I never intended to let my USA vacation photos spill over into 2013, but here we are. It’s taken me this long to wade through the thousands of photos I took while we were away, so this month I’ll be bringing you some of my favourites from NYC and Boston. I promise to have this all wrapped up before February, if only so that I can finally stop living in the past!

There’s no way I can share all of NYC with you in just one post so I’ll be breaking these photo posts down into a small series.  This installment is about the city streets and the people that fascinated me. You may also be interested in my earlier posts about Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Central Park, NYC

by Elizabeth on November 30, 2012 · 4 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

 

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Task #12 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days was Visit 3 new states in the USA.

 

See more photos from Maine:

Marshall Point lighthouse
Penobscot Bay
Sunrise at Port Clyde
McLoon’s Lobster Shack

 

 

 

 

 

More photos from Vermont: 

Vermont Fall foliage
Ben & Jerry’s factory tour
Lake Champlain 

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Lake Champlain, Vermont

by Elizabeth on November 28, 2012 · 1 comment

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

I have such bittersweet memories from this day.

Biscuit is the young, yellow pup and she’s a very good girl.  She belongs to Tim’s dad and also happens to be the most polite dog in the world.  If she was a person she would always remember to say please and thank you and she wouldn’t be caught dead with her elbows on the table.

She and her friend Curly had fun chasing each other up and down the beach at Lake Champlain that day, racing each other through the water and wrestling over precious sticks.  This stretch of sand was bliss for these playful pups.

Curly’s big brother Strider had been sick for a long time, and the day we visited he was on his very last legs.  He followed us slowly down the beach, enjoying the smells and the waves and the wind in his face.  He didn’t seem to mind that he couldn’t keep up with the other two when they raced ahead; he was just happy to be part of the action.

It was pretty clear to us all that these would be the last photos of the two boys together.  I didn’t want to draw too much attention to it so I quietly snapped a few portraits of their special guy.  I was glad to have a moment when both dogs flopped down together in the sand so that I could photograph them side by side; these gentle giants were such good pals and their affection for each other was remarkable.

The sweet old gentleman in the photo above is gone now, but I’m so happy to have known him for that short time.  He was a smooch, a happy soul and a very good singer.  I hope there’s a big beach for him in doggy heaven where he is running around without pain.

I know somebody has already written a song about this, but dogs really are the best people.

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Tim’s Dad took us to the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour while we were in Vermont.  Aside from eating some of the world’s greatest icecream (fact) we also took a tour of the factory and learned a lot about the history of the company.

I always knew that Ben & Jerry’s icecream tasted incredible, but it wasn’t until I went on this tour that I really understood why it’s so special.  First of all, the company was created with a pretty firm philosophy of social activism, sustainable production supply chains, and giving back to the community.  To this day they have maintained their commitment to source their dairy from pastured Vermont cows as a way of investing in their local industry.  And all of their eggs are from cage-free chickens.  How great is that?

So the B&J icecream that we buy here in Australia really is created in the factory pictured below – not by an Australian manufacturer who’s been granted a license.  And although I don’t feel great about the distance my icecream has travelled (and what that does for my local industry, and the environmental costs of its transportation) I do have a new appreciation for the price we pay for their icecream here.  Ben & Jerry’s offset the environmental impact of shipping their icecream to Australia by investing in renewable energy projects, so that eases the guilt a little.

The thing is, this company is incredibly progressive and they’ve thought long and hard about their role in the world.  They encourage their employees to volunteer in the community and support them financially to do it – and not with token gestures.  They lobby government to improve food standards and on economic issues.  They believe in telling people exactly what’s in the food they’re eating, and producing it ethically and locally.  They operate a foundation that invests in causes that will bring about change for communities.

This is sounding a bit like a sponsored post, sorry.  But it’s hard to not get excited about a corporate venture that’s doing so much good.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the factory in case we were evil spies, but it was really cool to see.  Great care is taken to ensure that no ice crystals form during any part of the manufacturing process which is one of the reasons why you’ll never see a tub of B&J icecream that’s bigger than a pint.  It’s all part of the quality control process.

And, umm…

I forget what else I was going to say, because this post made me hungry.

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Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Five minutes before these photos were taken we saw Yoko Ono getting into her limousine.

Well played, NYC.

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New York City.  Every time you turn a corner there’s something unexpected.

I’m going to let these photos speak for themselves tonight.  We’ve had some sad news over here and these pictures have been a welcome distraction.  But now it’s time for bed, and I hope I’ll dream of these big, beautiful bubbles.

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Penobscot Bay, Maine

by Elizabeth on November 18, 2012 · 0 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

With thanks to the handy little information board at the top of the lookout:

Penobscot Bay, bearing the same name as the Native American tribe indigenous to this region, is Maine’s largest bay.  At approximately 30 miles long and 30 miles wide, Penobscot Bay contains hundreds of islands.  The bay originates at the mouth of the Penobscot River and once served as the gateway to Bangor, the 19th-century lumber capital of the world.  

Widely considered one of the most picturesque landscapes along the Atlantic seaboard, the view before you has inspired countless writings and works of art, including Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence”.

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay…”

Edna St Vincent Millay

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A pretty lighthouse, a killer sunset, and a sweet little bird with a broken wing.  We braved the cold for as long as we could because it was just so beautiful here.

Dr Bob painted the Marshall Point Lighthouse for Tim a few years ago to remind him of the summers that he spent there as a kid.  It’s been hanging on our wall for years and it was really special to finally see it in person.

 

Oh! And aside from being famous for hanging in my dining room, this is also the lighthouse where Forrest Gump ended his three-year marathon.  Not a bad location to film, right?

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