Refreshed from our delightful day on Martha’s Vineyard, we headed over a bridge

A bridge.

and then drove on some roads for a while until we came to Hartford.

Coming up on Hartford. More Hartford.

In my travels, I have noticed a recurring theme about all US cities. See if you can notice it too:

This is probably a capitol or something. Note the recurringness of the thematicness.

Did you get it? That’s right — buildings. Every city I’ve been to so far has buildings.

“That’s ridiculous.”

Yes. In addition to buildings, most cities also seem to have plenty of people, such as the fun person we met in Hartford, known as The Backpacking Granny. She is an exuberant person with a mission to personally start a school in Ghana through networking and donations. Pretty awesome.

She was our first host in CT and we had a blast chatting with her and meeting some of her friends from the Atheist Society. (That may not be the actual name but it was something about atheists.)

In addition to atheists, there were also some crazy people:

The people of the great state of Connecticut.

The two happening girls in this photo were our hosts for our second night in CT.

“Okay,” says AG, “overlooking the ‘happening’ issue for the nonce, you had two separate hosts?”

Funny you would ask! The girl in the middle is Emily Hanink, who volunteered her friend’s house (Megan, on the right) for hosting us both. Pretty sweet. I would love to be able to volunteer some friends’ homes for other people to stay at, since I know some people with pretty nice homes. But it takes a special relationship to be able to do that.

Some sweet peeps in Storrs.

Also pictured above hanging out with Megan is a pretty sweet dude named Tom (right). Tom was a keyboardist, and they had a bunch of instruments set up in their basement. So he and several other dudes recorded some cool stuff for me.

Eric and Tom recording some aural goods.

I also met a great guy named Steve (whose last name I will figure out someday), who is a great classical guitarist. Meaning he plays classical guitar literature, not just the instrument. I also recorded him later that night.

Next morning, we went outside to see the guineas.

Widdow baybies. A vigilant guinea mother defends her chicks from a savage nearby alligator (not pictured).

Here is a closeup of the male eating. He was awesome because he would always run at you to frighten you away from his babies but he would always wuss out and stop before he got close enough to actually scare you.

Male guinea, savagely eating.

Then we headed out for coffee and to visit the farmer’s market. There were some fun signs on the way.

I feel as an ESL teacher that this picture has instructional value.

Not long afterwards, we were on our way to NYC, with no host lined up.

NEXT: NYC just barely avoids making my list of “cities I dislike for relatively arbitrary reasons.”

Martha’s Vineyard

Continuing with the misnamed regions, Martha’s Vineyard is more of an island than a vineyard, and it never belonged to anyone named Martha. What was that guy Bartholomew Gosnold thinking in 1602 when he named the island?

Happy thoughts, most probably. We were certainly thinking happy thoughts during our time on the Vineyard.

MPM: It began like an ordinary ferry ride…

The Island Queen, ferry extraordinaire.

That’s right, we took a ferry to the island and it was great. It was about a 45-minute journey.

A shot of a fellow boat. Fellow ferry-ride enjoyers.

We pulled up right at the house of our awesome host, Anne DeBettencourt.

Anne and JH with a ferry in the background. Me and our awesome host!

She is the mother of Laura Irby (who you may remember from such posts as: Indianapolis, IN) and she had insisted that I visit her on Martha’s Vineyard when I made my way up there. “Sure,” I said. So we set a day aside for some much needed R & R on the Vineyard.

You can see the ferry dock from her deck.

There are several businesses operating out of her home, such as bike and car rentals. For years she lived off the incoming ferry traffic, helping tourists find their way around the island, and we reaped the benefits of her experience. She pulled out the map of the island and gave us a recommended course, then told us we could borrow her Jeep.

Seriously?  We can drive that?

What?? Really?? Um, okay.

Yellow Jeep, with top down, on island. A picture, taken from a position above the Jeep (because the top was down).

Our plan was to drive over to the west side of the island to watch the sunset, reputed to be extraordinarily beautiful. We also saw plenty of other beautiful sights on the way there.

A sight, taken while driving a yellow topless Jeep.

“So… you didn’t make it in time for the sunset eh?” asks Attractive Girl knowingly. “The sunset seems to be already happening in that picture.”

Well, we were close. There was still some light when we reached the coast.


But then it took a while to find parking. Evidently the population of the island roughly sextuples over the summer, not even counting the tourists, so it was a rather occupied area. But here, for your enjoyment, are some of the photos we managed to get.

Sunset residue lingering in the sky. Water residue lingering on the rocks. Light residue lingering on the clouds. Human residue lingering on the beach.

When we got back, we were further amazed to discover that Anne ordered a pizza for us. After walking over to pick it up,

Picking up the pizza.

we enjoyed a fine evening of eating delicious pizza and chatting with Anne about a wide variety of topics.

Next morning, we were off to the beach!

En route to (part of) the beach!

We swam, enjoyed some sunshine, and played with rocks for several hours.

Water!  Sunshine!  Clouds! Raise your hand if you'd like being here.  Thank you, I see that hand.

All too soon, it was time to board the ferry and head back to Falmouth, MA and the Lovemobile.

Approaching the mainland.

Thanks a lot, Anne, for an awesome and relaxing 24 hrs. on Martha’s Vineyard!

NEXT: Something interesting!

The Amazing Rhode Island!

This island is actually physically attached to the continental landmass, i.e. it is not an island. Amazing!

As with all drives in New England, this too was scenic, as is evidenced by this too-late shot of an amazing scene that recently passed by on a huge bridge.

Quick, get the camera!  Wake up!  The camera is in the back!  Sigh...

We spent a pleasant night in Providence with our host, a fun girl named Laura Bridge. Next morning, we were off to Warren, where we met up with a homey by the name of Adrian. Now, this particular homey happened to be very good at playing guitars. So we took some of his guitars and went into this house which he and his father are busy restoring/renovating.

The stuff all set up.

Adrian happened to be very good at playing guitar, so it’s awesome that he happened to have guitars and I happened to have recording equipment.

So, in this part I want you to play some notes...

For the last Loop I didn’t have mic stands. This time around I’ve been noticing a lack of music stands.

Real musicians use Rubbermaid music stands.

It was a good time.

Those notes you played are great!

NEXT: An island that really is an island!

Boston, MA

Boston! Home of roughly 3.2 billion universities, the city is basically a giant college campus with occasional children.

“Haha!” laughs Attractive Girl, revealing some very attractive creases at the corners of her mouth. “I bet you met many musicians to record there, eh?”

Hey Attractive Girl, are you by chance from Minnesota?

“No, I’m from Tennessee. But I have been to Minneapolis several times.”

Oh, OK. The ‘eh?’ threw me off. Anyway, I have begun to notice an odd phenomenon — the larger the music scene in a city, the more silent its musicians. I have gotten more responses from smaller cities than I have from larger cities — perhaps because the musicians are busy working in larger towns and aren’t looking for more gigs. Or perhaps it’s been just pure chance.

So, I didn’t find many musicians to record in Boston. In this paper I will discuss the trip to Boston, recording in Boston, sightseeing in Boston, and my noise-finding expedition in Boston.

I. The Trip to Boston

The trip to Boston was very scenic, as the highway we followed was very near the coast (see Figure A).

Figure A

II. Recording in Boston

When we arrived in Boston, I met fellow Couchsurfer and guitarist Chris Hughes. He plays guitar, and his roommate is from Omaha.

Would you believe this picture is candid?

Chris recorded some guitar for me for a tune, then we had to be off to meet our host, a very fun girl who goes by the name of Liz Pratt. Probably because that is really her name. Her father’s name is Lance. She lives with a handful of others in a long, narrow, tall house.

They were all of them fun and gracious hosts, and we had a great time chatting with them before we all hit the hay.*

III. Sightseeing in Boston

Next day, I still had no bites from the ads. A whole day in Boston with no one to record — I feel some sightseeing coming on!

We went walking all over Boston. There were buildings there.


There were also some other buildings there.

In addition to buildings, Boston featured numerous pedestrians.

Not to mention scenic sidewalks.

They don't make sidewalks like this anymore.

And parks.

Chillin' like a villain in the park.

Boston is “America’s Walking City,” and cars everywhere pretty much give pedestrians the right of way. Boston’s streets go every which way, with diagonals and curving streets and train tracks largely interfering with any type of organized grid idea. But, oddly, the alleys were remarkably straight:

A remarkably straight alley.

I thought perhaps I could find some sweet dudes over at Berklee to record, so we headed in that direction. I chatted up some peeps and talked to some people that looked like they were in charge, but didn’t end up securing any recordings. Part of the problem was that I had somehow managed to get one of the only parking spots in the city remotely near my host, and I was loathe to leave that spot, so we hadn’t driven, just walked, which meant I didn’t have my equipment.

Musician in paradise.

I did buy a Berklee hoodie so I could spy around the school better though. I walked around and checked out the equipment, classrooms, and practice rooms. Pretty sweet place. Made me want to go back to music school again.

IV. My Noise-Finding Expedition in Boston

A delightful girl named Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati had contacted me earlier about finding noises in Boston, and I was all about that. So we arranged to meet up that evening. I couldn’t take all my gear with me, so we used her little handheld voice recorder, for suboptimal but usable results.

We walked all around hunting for noises to record. First: the subway station!

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” says Attractive Girl. “Trains and whistles and air brakes and announcements!”

Are you really from Tennessee? You don’t really have an accent.

“I sometimes say ‘y’all.'”

Hmm. Anyway, yes, but we actually didn’t go for those. See, we didn’t go to just any subway station. We went to a special station with fun interactive noisemaking devices. Evidently a project by students at MIT or some such, some of the stations have levers on the walls which operate various devices, all of which make various interesting noises. There was one that flexed a giant sheet of metal, yielding a big wobbly wowowow sound. There was also this:

Bong! Bong! Bong!

Alisa had to be careful to retract her arm before the next train, which she fortunately managed just fine.

Then we surfaced and went about recording city noises like trains, traffic, that little beeping sound the crosswalks made, car horns, etc.

Here comes a taxi!  Maybe it will honk! Wait!  Here comes the taxi again!  I wonder why taxis keep stopping...

(I’d give a dollar to someone who makes those into a funny animation.)

We also frolicked on a playground in Frog Park! There were many cutesy anthropomorphized frog statues there. There was also a sign, which some clever person had vandalized.

These rules were handed down through generations of ruling frogs.

In this paper I have discussed my trip to Boston, recording in Boston, sightseeing in Boston, and my noise-finding expedition in Boston. Thank you.

NEXT: An island that is actually part of a continent! Like, contiguously part of the continental landmass!

* “Hit the hay” is an American idiom meaning “go to sleep”. So far as I know there was no actual hay in their house.

Portland, ME

ME! Not to be confused with myself and I, ME is actually the northeastmost state in the Union.

We arrived in Portland to find a pleasant city with a healthy dose of “small bayside shipping town” feel. When we got the the edge of the State, it was our first time seeing the Atlantic Ocean so we found a beautiful spot along the Eastern Promenade to watch the ships come sailing in, etc.

I saw three ships...

We sat and enjoyed the salty air, cool weather, and the great view for a good while.

I've been watching the ships, I've been watching them sail.

In particular, I liked the one with the cool sails.

List of people who dislike cool sails: idiots, fools.  Short list.

Then it was time to find the house of Phil James, shakuhachist. A shakuhachist is a person who plays the shakuhachi.

“Didn’t you, in fact, make up the word ‘shakuhachist’?” asks Mr. Yerfulovit.

Yes. Anyway, more information on shakuhachi can be found on Phil’s site. It’s a cool instrument, and Phil is quite skilled at playing it.

Phil employing his considerable shakuhachistic talent.

By the way, we saw this great sign while trying to find Phil’s house.

I am so smart, I am so smart...

Now back to Phil. We recorded some shakuhachi on several tunes, as well as some solo shakuhachi, using a larger, lower-piched one.

Riding the input volume knob. Record, record, record the shakuhachi.

Phil was a great guy and a pleasure to work with. Then, after packing everything up, we were on our way out when I saw something that looked like an instrument sitting near the door.

“What’s that?”
“A harmonium.”

So we set all the stuff back up and got him on harmonium for a couple tunes.

Super cool instrument.

Then we packed everything up again, and suddenly on our way out I noticed something resembling a piano just sitting there by the door.

“What’s that?”
“A piano.”
“No, it’s actually nothing.”
“Oh okay then. Take care!”

After recording Phil, we were off to dinner with fellow Couchsurfer Alissa Greenberg, who was in Maine for a bit before returning to her home in Boston. She recommended a place on the coast called the Lobster Shack. I was the only one of the three of us who had lobster. It was incredibly fresh and delicious. Also expensive, but I figured it was probably my only chance to try Maine lobster in Maine.

Alissa and JH at the little old shack.

It was dusk. It was also beautiful.

As with all my nature shots, it looked roughly 700% better in person.

Then we made a short drive to the place she was staying, which happened to be private property very close to the sea. Evidently due to some sweet familial hookups she can sometimes live at this amazing house on this amazing location. More stunning views ensued.

This place is called The Point.

The mosquitos were feasting on our warm flesh, so we couldn’t stay long. But it was lovely.

Then we were off north to a remote place somewhere between Bucksport and Bangor to meet our hosts, Molly and Shawn Mercer (pictured with children and pets):

The clan assembled.

Their house was off the beaten path. Also, off the power grid. They use solar power, drink well water, keep animals for food, and even made their own house using wood from their property! Don’t worry about deforestation in this instance. They still have far more than their share of trees.

View from their doorstep.

They have chickens, turkeys, cows, and dogs.

Some of the cows.  These are not like the cows in Texas.

Shawn is also a singer/songwriter, and does a bit of traveling to play various places. We had some good discussion about music and teaching (he’s a teacher, and I was before this project).

Next morning, we loaded up,

Autobots roll out!

followed them out on their long, long “driveway,”

This "driveway" is probably half a mile long.

and were off to our next stop — Boston!

NEXT: San Fransisco!

New Hampshire Let Me Down

The state of New Hampshire, which I’m sure has many redeeming virtues, completely let me down. Usually I am able to keep busy due to the people that contact me in a given state, but not a single person from New Hampshire contacted me.

“Quit whining,” says AG. “No one likes a whiner.”

True that. In my defense, I was merely stating that fact to provide context for an exciting adventure.

“Oh, okay then. Tell me tell me!”

It begain like an ordinary day.

MOVIE PREVIEW MAN: One day in New Hampshire. No musicians. No host. Two happening dudes.
WOMAN: Watch out!!!
MPM: Action…
MAN: AAAAAhhhhhh!!!
MPM: Adventure…
OTHER MAN: We’re headed straight for that–

You know what? Never mind. I can’t really make this day seem exciting.

The scenery and the weather were both beautiful so we stopped at a rest area promising free wi-fi to hang out for a bit.

Free wi-fi from its bonds!

We unpacked some stuff

The faithful Lovemobile after several thousand miles of Touring.

And set our computers up

Only weather this beautiful could make me smile when there's no wifi.

but there was not, in fact, any wifi. The sign saying “Free Wi-fi” was evidently a political sign positing that we should not limit our network traffic but rather leave all our networks open and free, rather than an indicator of something that exists nearby. So we enjoyed the weather for a few more minutes before continuing on. I figured we may as well head toward the next stop since we didnt’ have a stop yet in NH. I kept hoping someone from Couchsurfing would contact me about hosting, so I wanted to be in a “central NH” area in the event that such a person called.

We went to Concord. There was a capitol-type building there.

This was a large impressive building, visible from far away.

It was dark.

At the top, or as they say in France, le top.

“Hey 잭티처!!” clamor a handful of nearby Korean elementary school students.

What, students?

“Did a host contact you or not?”

Not. It was my second night sleeping in the car, JH’s first. God bless bench seats. We found an out-of-the-way place and slept there, but it got a bit warm in the morning.

At the top, or as they say in France, le top.

New Hampshire was a fun adventure, but not the type of adventure I’d been hoping to have.

NEXT: Adventures I’d been hoping to have!