Monday, January 25, 2010

Nat Sherman, New York City

Dwarfed among the massive high rise buildings, and flagship fashion stores of New York City is the modest throwback tobacconist reminiscent of the 19th century.  The quaint two-story structure with the look of an old clock maker's shop draws your attention back down to street level.

Entering the shop one is transported into a nineteenth century novel, you feel the subtle gentility and antiqueness descend peacefully upon you.  This is typically considered the man's world of cigars, but the growing number of women cigar smokers would find this stop not far from Times Square a pleasant surprise.

Nat Sherman Tobacconist is worthy stop for any cigar afficiando on a New York City break.  My visit was a peaceful stop in a bustling city.  Strolling down the famous 5th Avenue, and turning the corner on 42nd Street I was captured by the quaintness of the building, and once inside I was ushered into a woody library of cigars and tobacco paraphernalia.  Helpful and kind staff, a wide variety of their trademark cigars, and a comfortable atmosphere make a stop at Nat Sherman a must stop for the cigar lover.

Adding to my stop at Calle Ocho in Miami Nat Sherman is part of my list I have accomplished already.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

#11 - Go to the world's oldest record store

At this point I am not quite sure how high each of the things on my list I want to do really belong.  It is not easy to number them in importance, or interest.  So I will number them as they come to me.  This does belong on my list of 1,000, and I have a chance of fulfilling it in a couple weeks.

Spillers is the world's oldest record store.  It is in Caerdydd (Cardiff), Wales.  In 1894 the store was opened, and it has remained in business since then.  It is not in the original location, but it is just around the corner in a space they had to move to in 1940, because they needed more room.

For me the experience is increased by the fact that it is in Caerdydd, Wales.  This means that the selection of Welsh music will better than anything I can find in the US.

I will be returning with pics from my stop at Spillers, and will post them here.

#10 - Grow Dreadlocks

On the list of 1,000 things to do before I die I just had to add grow dreadlocks.  How could I not add this to the list?  I have long had a not so secret desire to have dreads.  Just think - I could become the "dreaded pastor!"

I am not sure that I will do it, but I had to add it to the list, and I figure that at some point I just might say to myself, "Ah heck, why not? go for it."

If I do I will consult  The pic of the cool dude in mad dreads came from them.

Now be honest - how many of you hold a secret yearning to wear dreads?

Update on #1 (Cadair Idris), and #9 - maybe

I have my ticket to Wales.  I will be headed there on February 5th on an American Airlines red-eye flight, and returning on February 22nd at a decent time of day.  I had enough points with a card to have to pay only the taxes, which were over $150, but that still beats any other price.

I will be south Wales for the first week, and then head north.  I will spend sometime with Paul Allen at The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth, and my #1 thing to do before I die is very near CAT.  So I am planning on climbing Cadair Idris.  I suppose I might change my mind if the weather is too crazy for climbing and spending the night, but at this point I figure that climbing in the winter is a mad thing to do - that means according to the myth I should come down the next day a poet.  Go up mad, return a poet - not a bad exchange.  Of course, I could simply end up twice as crazy.

I will be lecturing at a castle on the 12th, and am looking forward to that experience.  Atlantic College meets in a castle.  Maybe I can find a way to stay there as well, and then I could fulfill #9 on my list as well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Salem, Massachusetts in October - Must See! Must Do!

If you are anywhere near Massachusetts in the Fall, there are enough reasons to visit Salem to place it on the list of 100 things to do before you die.  If you are on a New York City break, or simply in the New England area Boston is not far, and Salem is a short 30 minutes north of Boston.

Going to Salem was on my top 5 list years ago.  So I moved here, and now I run large events each October.  It is still on my top 5 list 10 years later.

Reasons to come to Salem in October:  1)  This may be the only place in the world where Halloween is a month long holiday!  2) Salem is in the heart of the world's most beautiful Fall foliage, and it peaks in the third week of October typically.  3)  American's origins explode in visual history across our city, and not only in reference to the Witch Trials of 1692-1693.  4)  For people who love old architecture Salem is a feast for the eyes. There is a reason that Salem is the second most popular tourist location in Massachusetts after Boston.

Salem has great restaurants and a wildly active schedule of fun things to do each October.  The events cover its history, simple Halloween shenanigans, fun albeit sometimes kitschy shopping (but who can resist the occasional fun kitsch?!), and spiritual experiences for the spiritually adventurous.

Despite its deserved reputation for being the Witchcity it is a fantastic place to bring your children.  October is filled with family friendly events.  From the first Thursday of the month when the Halloween Parade begins the season, to the 31st when 100,000 people might descend upon this city of 40,000 Salem is an October visitors feast of the imagination.

If you can't make it on October - don't worry, anytime is fine to come to Salem.  I like this place so much I moved here, and after 10 years my heart still considers this home, and the most interesting place I have ever lived.  If you make it here be sure to come and say hi.

It was high on my list of 1,000 things to do before I die, and I can scratch it off as accomplished.  I live here now.

Update on #7: Got my ticket!

Yesterday tickets went on sale for Burning Man.  They started at 10:30am PST.  I did not get home from a lunch meeting until about 2pm EST.  That meant I was half and hour later than the online sales began.  I went online and started outt somewhere around #8000 in line.  Three and a half hours later I had tickets.

See you non August 30th Rob, Scott and the rest of you Streaming Burners!

Friday, January 8, 2010

#9 Sleep Overnight in a Castle

As is obvious to even the most casual observer of this blog - I am Cymrucentric.  The top of my list involves things to do in Cymru (Wales).  Although sleeping overnight in a castle anywhere would be fun, doing it in Wales would be even better.  Wales has more castles than anywhere in the world for its area.  If the English weren't building them to keep the Welsh down, the Welsh were building them to try to keep the English away.  So now there 600 or so castles or remains of castles across a land the size of Massachusetts.  That's almost enough castles for everybody to own one!

I've been to Caernarfon which walls still run through the city, Caerphilly (where there are working siege machines!), Chepstow sitting high above the Wye River, and a host of smaller ruins some of which names I can not remember.  I have yet to sleep in a castle though.

There are some castles in Wales which have become accommodations for tourists.  Craig-y-Nos, which I have driven past a dozen times, and have not been able to stop yet was once the home of famous opera Diva Adelina Patti.  Castell Ruthin (Ruthin Castle) also offers accommodations and fine dining.

I am hoping to go a little more rustic and hang with some students at Atlantic College where I will lecture in February, and stay the night St. Donat's Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Someone's working on that for me - we'll see.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Catch a Moonbow - Cumberland Falls, KY

During an April in early 1990's we spent a week in Kentucky.  Typically one visits thoroughbred farms, and all sorts of horse related locations like racetracks, and museums.  We did this as well, but what stands out for me was the phenomenon of the moonbow.

At Cumberland Falls near the Tennessee border is the only location in the Western hemisphere where this occurs regularly.  During a full moon, a white bow can be viewed in the spray of the falls at night.

We stayed in a cabin which is part of the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.  The Kentucky Park system is one of the best in the US, and the cabins were comfortable, clean and more than one might expect from a State run program.

Dogwood forest surrounded the area, and at this time in April the flowers were falling from the trees, and spinning like fairies to the forest ground.

Once the sun went down, and darkness crept in upon us, we made our way down to the falls.  Scores of visitors were there to experience the moonbow, and stood at top of the falls, or along the railing of the steps which made their way down to the river side at the foot of the falls.  During that first visit no moonbow was visible, and it was obvious that the moon was not positioned correctly to catch the mist at the foot of the falls.

Going back to the cabin we decided to visit later after the moon rose higher in the night sky.  An hour later we returned.  The crowds had thinned a little, but the moonbow was still illusive, and moon and the mist had yet to meet.

I repeated this process of going back to the cabin, and returning to the falls to capture the moonbow 3 more times.  By the last visit the others had given up, and I made the trek to the falls alone.  Not being one for giving up easily on opportunities for rare phenomenon I returned to the falls at 2:30am.  The progressively thinning crowds had now diminished to one other man and myself.

At 2:30 in the morning, there it was - a band of white light like a night time albino rainbow captured in the mist of Cumberland Falls.

For you my friends from the UK, who are looking to experience some of America's coolest things look for the pot at the end of the moonbow at Cumberland Falls you can catch flights to Orlando Florida.  If a rainbow has a pot of gold at the end of it maybe the moonbow has diamonds.  It certainly is high on my list of romantic scenes to discover.  Just be sure to bring someone who can stay awake through the night, or you might be left at the falls with a stranger.

This may be on my list of a thousand things to do, but it is one of the things I have covered, and can scratch off my list of a thousand as accomplished.