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Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Washington Road Trip

Irony, which I am so fond of identifying, is an essay in which I lambaste our culture’s reliance on the automobile followed by today’s discussion of my upcoming road trip. I never said that I was consistent. I definitely will say that I don’t have many answers, just lots of questions. If you are looking for all of the answers and rigid consistency there are plenty of conservative types out there that dish this stuff up every single day.

I think that the automobile is a pretty lousy way to get around on a daily basis. I hate driving for the most part. I do own a car and tomorrow I’m driving as a means of discovery. I suppose the road trip is as American as just about anything. The car gives us a sense that we are never more than a tank of gas and a bit of scenery away from a completely different life. At least this is true if you believe Kerouac and Steinbeck.

This time every year I take a few days off for my birthday to travel. I’m not going any place very exotic this year. I’m taking my road bike and my mountain bike and heading up to the North Cascades for five days of riding. I guess you could call the North Cascades exotic. It is one of the most beautiful places I have seen on this planet.

Winthrop, Washington is a touristy old mining town outside of North Cascades National Park--from what I have heard it is mountain bike heaven. The scenery can’t be beat and there are a couple good bars in town. I’ll throw in a bit of rock climbing, supplement that with a couple good books, and I should be pretty well entertained for the next five days. The Mariners are playing the Red Sox and the Yankees this week (my radio is packed) so my dance card will be pretty full. I will also get to watch a bit of TV (lots of fancy hotels have TV’s IN the room).

Traveling alone is something I would highly recommend to everyone. Traveling solo forces you into different kinds of situations than you would experience when traveling with others. Most of the best travel memoirs were written by solo travelers. If I were the type to write self-help books I would throw in a chapter or two on traveling alone.

BONUS ESSAY

I found a great site for classical sheet music. I have been looking for Bach’s Six Sonatas BWV 525-530, known as the trio sonatas, for some time. I suppose the trio refers to the three voices of the organ’s two manuals and the bass. I went to Capital Music in downtown Seattle yesterday and special ordered these pieces written for the organ. When I got home and did a google search and found a German site that has Bach’s works in adobe acrobat reader. It is a free download and the quality is very high. I’m still trying to find these sonatas transcribed for guitar and piano but I can play the organ music on piano to a certain degree. If nothing else looking at this music has helped me to understand that the organ is an amazing instrument. Bach was reported to have been one of the all-time great organists and this work was composed his years of greatest maturity. My lack of skill limits me to the slower movements. I am looking forward to playing these with along with a friend of mine who plays guitar. He is a much more accomplished musician and he always makes me sound better. The last piece we played together was a Vivaldi guitar concerto.

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