Monday, March 22, 2010

Night Skiing Deserves a Quiet Night

Did you know that North Carolina has skiing? Did you know that North Carolina has skiing in late March? Well, I think I'd heard about the first one, but skiing has sort of skipped my mind my mind since I got here. I like to ski enough, but I also like to take a disparaging view of East Coast "mountains." In any case, Austin presented the fine idea of going night-skiing last Saturday, in what I have to only imagine was quite possibly the last ski weekend of the season, and so we headed off to Sugar Mountain.

True to its name, the snow felt like sugar -- you know the kind that you get when it's been sitting out in the humidity for too long? And to get it out of the container you have to start chipping at it with a butter knife or something? Yeah, that kind. Staying on top of my skis as I blithely flew down the mountain at top speeds anyway was thus a bit of a challenge. I also went out of my way to hit any little jumps I could find and get as much air as possible, and I'm proud to say that this resulted in at least four wipeouts, with skis and poles flying every which way. I told Austin that if you don't wipe out at least once, you're just not trying hard enough.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On the road to Jackson, MS

A couple pictures from a recent roadtrip to Jackson, MS:

Oh, if only it were that easy...

As advertised: the Peanut Depot store in Birmingham, AL sells ONLY roasted and boiled peanuts. I tried to get some other friends into these lovely boiled peanuts, and they weren't feeling it. What's wrong with people these days?

Got to Jackson just in time to see the last day of an exhibit on Jim Henson at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Pretty interesting contrast to the Tim Burton exhibit at MOMA in New York. Check this out if you have 9 minutes... it's sort of like Sesame-Street-animation-meets-art-school-final-project...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Solice from a Prawn

Well, in the end I didn't make it out to Mexico. This made me very sad, although a couple friends thought I had made the right choice after hearing on NPR that border towns around Mexico (Chihuahua was named in their little list) had witnessed 200 murders in the past... what was it? Oh yes, week.

I figured the only way to relieve my disappointment was to head to the Spanish restaurants on Waughtown street, this time joined by my friend Feisty. We happened to go to El Paisano on a Friday, which so happens to be one of the few days that they serve caldo de camarones (shrimp broth soup). Feisty and I ordered a couple bowls of this and loved diving through the broth to get to all the yummy jumbo shrimp and chunks of whitefish found within. Mmmmm....

Postscript: Another friend Pat who had joined me on a previous Waughtown excursion heard about my failed attempt to get down to Mexico, and this conversation ensued:
Pat: "I've heard your Spanish down on Waughtown street."

DW: "Yes?"

Pat: "Not impressed."
Oh really? Well, I got some choice words for you in English then, my friend.

Prawn says: Don't be sad, DW, there will be other trips to Mexico.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chihuahua debate

Well, I had planned to make a new trip to the Spanish world to learn Espanol starting next week, but these plans are on deathwatch. My original plan was to follow out my friend Michelle to Chihuahua, Mexico, where I would camp out with her and take three weeks of Spanish classes. Unfortunately, she announced a plan not to go back, less than a day after I had bought my non-refundable ticket, which seems to have to do with the fact that she has no money to get there, and no job once she does. And perhaps her drive to return has been dampened by the fact that she witnessed a double murder the last week she was living there previously, right across the street from her house. (I will leave out all the gory details.)

I had bought my ticket to visit telling her "I hope you understand that YOU'RE about the only reason I would feel at all tempted to visit this place. In fact, I would almost literally be anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking world." To which she replied "Aww, thanks!"

In any case, I am now faced with the fact that I have bought a non-refundable ticket to one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico to visit a place where I have no contacts. I am trying to figure out whether to go through with the trip or not. Currently I am sitting at Border's where the Fodor's guide has this to say about it all:
[Danger symbol:] Given the problems with drug-cartel related violence in Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez, we strongly advise that you avoid using either as a transit hub or base.
Hmm. Sounds like a great place to be for three weeks. Blood levels rising...