Friday, February 27, 2009

An Unusual Greeting

When we checked into the Silverhorn Motor Inn in Kellogg, Idaho, we were greeted by Zoe:

"Yes, well, Elaine is out back looking up your reservations. In the meantime, would you like some free popcorn and ice cream with your movies? The large selection is catalogued in those binders behind you."

Silverhorn Motor Inn is a very dog-friendly place indeed! And yes, it is true, free movies, popcorn AND ice cream (over 10 flavours)! Also, we were told free laundry available to guests, but we did not stay long enough to take advantage of this wonderful perk. If you are ever passing by, stay here!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Long is Long?

-We left before the Superbowl and came home (yesterday) after the Oscars.

-Our tour of rental cars included a Saturn Aura, a Chevy Impala, a Ford Fusion, two Toyota Camrys and a Toyota 4Runner SUV for snowy North Dakota. (I must say I'm glad we're over the Chrysler 300 phase...that car has such bad sightlines and for months that was all anyone would rent you for a full size).

-We flew on Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, US Airways, American, and Frontier.

-We looked at the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Mexico and almost Canada (60 miles away).

-8 states, 15 concerts, 9 flights with many connections

Lots of great places and fun times............but it's nice to be home too ;-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Climate Change

The past week has taken us to many different corners of the United States and occasionally the changes in climate and terrain are a bit shocking for us and for our instruments.

Palm Springs has it all with gorgeous snow capped mountains and palm trees.

They are harnessing the power of their wind with an impressive field of wind turbines:

Driving north through California, we saw some other great landscapes.

And a lot of farmland:

Minot, North Dakota was really cold (around 5 degrees plus a lot of wind chill) and snowy! This made driving a little hairy ;-0 We were told it can be as cold as 60 below zero with the wind chill. Minot State University had a very nice hall and we worked with some chamber music students in the morning before our concert.

So you wake up (at 4am) to that weather, catch the 6am flight and by the end of the day, you're here:
Silver City, NM is about 6000 feet above sea level and we could feel the elevation and the dryness of the air immediately. It is beautiful country!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

US State Trivia

1. Name 4 states with panhandles. (There are apparently 9 in total, including 1 which has 2!)

2. Name the North Dakota city that rhymes with "Why not".

3. Name the only 6 states we've never performed in. (Hint: that number will be down to 4 by March 5th.)

The third part of the package...

So, everyone's wondering, what did Aaron send, if Chad and Kai Yu sent such nice things??? Well, he sent an awesome box with a couple of my favorite NY bagels (from Absolute Bagels on Broadway at 108th St.), the best dark chocolate bar in the world (Ritter Sport Halbbitter - don't be fooled into getting the "Dark Chocolate" version for Americans which isn't nearly as good as the original German), some more chocolate delicacies, a book of poetry, and a card that he made from a printout of one of our honeymoon photos!

What lucky wives we are ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More From Our Traveling Valentine's

Well, it could have been worse. We ended up flying most of the day, and we ended up with delays and impossible connections necessitating switching airlines, and we ended up (unexpectedly) on US Airways, which no longer gives out anything free, even cups of water.

However, we got lucky with our gate agent. She bucked the coorporate "charge for oxygen" philosophy and laid out some free Valentine's Day treats for us lucky passengers.

Of course we are luckiest to have amazingly wonderful husbands, who sent us our surprise box of treats (see Donna's last post). Chad sent me cookies from an incredible bakery on the Upper West Side: Levain Bakery. It's on West 74th Street just east of Amsterdam, and if you are anywhere near Manhattan, I recommend dropping everything and heading over. You won't regret it. They make ridiculously good (and shockingly large) cookies. My favorite are the dark chocolate chocolate chip. Wow!!

Do follow that last link. These people don't mess around, and their photos are much better than mine...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Surprise!

*Sigh* Another Valentine's Day away from my husband! I was lamenting the sad situation this morning when there came a knock at my door. I thought to myself, "Oh, the housekeeping staff didn't see my 'Do not disturb' sign. Argh." However, it was not the housekeeping staff at all -- it was a hotel clerk holding a big box. Hmmm...

In this wonderfully big box, there were all sorts of Valentine's Day goodies from all three Claremont husbands (Kai Yu, Aaron, Chad). :) Thanks!!!! They certainly brought smiles to our faces.

The macarons are delicious (from one of my favourite bakeries in New York City), and the Care Bear card is super cute. When I open it, it talks to me! How cute is that?

Happy Bunny

While I was sitting down to relax and eat a light dinner before our concert in Shelton, WA, I noticed a wonderful poster on the wall of an office at the high school:

This is apparently called a Happy Bunny poster (or art grid). This was the first time I had seen one, and I had such a fun time inspecting all the little statements. Which one suits you and which one would you use the most? :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Anatomy of a Strip Mall

In southern California we noticed signs advertising "Pads and Commercial Lots" and wondered what the "pads" were. Bachelor pads?

Gotta love my iPhone... I quickly found the Wikipedia entry for "pad site":

"A pad site is a freestanding parcel of commercial real estate located in the front of a larger shopping center or strip mall. Desirable because of their visibility to consumers, accessibility, and the ease of facilitating drive-thru service, pad sites are typically sought after by banks, casual dining, and fast food restaurants. Pad sites usually range between 2,000 and 75,000 square feet (7,000 m2). They can be ground leased by developers or purchased outright. The former offers a lower up-front cost, but the user is unable to use the land as collateral to finance building expenses because pad sites do not have their own legal address. The latter requires a larger capital investment, but provides the user an appreciable asset in real estate."


Other recent iPhone-aided discoveries:

-The dog we just saw was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (CUTE!).

-The noun "orange" (fruit) predates the adjective (color), but not by much. They're both derived from the Indian language Tamil via Sanskrit.

Wikipedia on this subject...

Fascinating stuff we learn on tour...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Catching up with Cousins!

Though I grew up in Massachusetts, I have lots of relatives in California and since we're touring the west coast this month I've had the chance to see some of them. John, Frances and Tyler took me to lunch at Google where John and Tyler work. The Google-plex is pretty awesome (complete with a beach volleyball court and an herb garden) and the cafeteria food was delicious. Sorry no pictures - Google is very security conscious and made me swear I wouldn't leak any company secrets. Little did they know I'm not tech-saavy enough to understand any secrets....

This week we caught dinner with Jeff, Steve and Donavyn in Long Beach after flying in from Seattle. Donavyn is growing up fast and he already knows how to show off for the camera ;-)

And then yesterday after our afternoon concert in Victorville, we drove out to Pauma Valley to stay with our cousins Mim and Earl on their amazing orange and avocado farm.

Although we caught them at one of their coldest and rainiest days of the year (!), it was really beautiful and amazing to smell and taste the fruit when it's so fresh.

With more than 2000 trees on the property (including some grapefruit, kumquat, and pomagranate in addition to about 1500 orange and 300 avocado), Mim and Earl keep track of irrigating, pruning, fighting off pests and weeds, and manage to make a profit selling their produce on the global market.

Anybody who knows Emily knows that she eats a lot of grapefruits. We learned that they're called grapefruits because they grow in clusters like grapes (unlike oranges that grow individually). Emily was in heaven being able to pick her own grapefruits!

There were four great dogs on the farm - here's Earl with his big dog:

And Donna picking an orange:

It was a great break from chain hotels!

Pics from the Airplane

We had a beautiful, clear day for our flight from Seattle down to southern California and so I had to pull out my camera on the plane. This first one is Mt. Rainier:Here are some more mountains in the Cascade Range:

Progressing southwards:

And a beautiful landing into Long Beach, CA:

We Hear You...

There is a common misconception among audience members across the country that acoustics are a one-way affair. The assumption seems to be that good halls allow people in the audience to hear the most subtle nuance of the music played on stage but that the people on stage cannot hear audience members whispering. This assumption is almost always false, and in some halls, it is very false.

Hint: The "s" sound travels particularly well.


Mountain View Elementary

In addition to our formal concerts, we also play lots of concerts in schools while we're on tour. (Lately, it's started to feel like school concert every morning, formal concert every evening...)

We recently played at Mountain View Elementary School in Shelton, WA, and they gave us some great thank you gifts. Thanks Mountain View!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A few more photos of the coast....

Here are a few more pictures from our drive along the Oregon coast!

A Rare Day Off

On a rare day off from concertizing, we decided to take a rather large detour on our way from Grants Pass, OR to Salem, OR to see the Oregon Coast (at my insistence, really). I had visited the coast with my family back when I was about thirteen years old and I remember loving the spectacular scenery. So, instead of driving up directly on I-5, we took this route:

View Larger Map

It took us about twice as long to get to Salem, but it was well worth the trip. Here are some photos from our drive:

And finally, Red Sox Nation is truly everywhere:

I love the Pacific Northwest!