|Patriotic buttons by ThisOnesMineDesigns on Etsy|
Here's the first half of a list of my top ten places to visit in the States, and why I like them...
I took an afternoon cruise around Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe back in July 1999, and was told about an English eccentric who built a castle on the island and had her butler row her out there every day to take afternoon tea.
With a little investigation, this lovely vignette turns out to be somewhere on the scale between borderline and absolute CLAPTRAP but it's a great story and the real information behind the place is just as interesting.
Lake Tahoe is on the border between Nevada and California, and my friend Jo and I were actually there to see Tom Jones. We weren't disappointed! Although the flight into town from Las Vegas, over the mountains in a single engine plane, was pretty hairy.
Lost River Caves, near Bowling Green
Apart from playing a key role in the American Civil War, and also being the rumoured hideout of outlaws like Jesse James, the best thing about this place is the fact that it was used as an underground (literally and perhaps figuratively) nightclub back in the 1930s. A bar area is hewn into the rock and there's a substantial dancefloor area too. Our tour guide when we visited (me and Jo again, but this time in July 2007) told us that the advent of air conditioning alongside laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol did for the bar in the end, but it's great that it's been restored and kept so well - a really interesting day out.
The Intersection of 1st and 1st, East Village, New York
Before I even noticed this wonderful hidden gem, this particular intersection has some great memories for me. These are mainly to do with shrugging off hangovers on the way to the 2AV station to catch the ever-useful F train, drinking coffee outside in snow or heat to wake me up for a day's shopping or sightseeing or trying to fortify myself for a day out with family! It's just around the corner from the storefront radio station, EVR.com where you can see Mark Ronson, Andy Rourke and other well-known musicians broadcasting all day every day. I've spotted everyone from Moby to Chris Klein and overheard all sorts of bizarre conversations right here - 'you've lived in New York your whole life and you never ate felafel? We're going for felafel RIGHT NOW' - three club kids heading into SoHo at 6.30am, presumably heading for home but with breakfast first. I also had to chuckle to myself as I overheard a girl chatting to her dachshund, Nathan - great name for a sausage dog! And you know where the F train goes... Coney Island! I think that's synchronicity (or something...)
Mount Hood, Oregon
I think I've probably mentioned this place to everyone I know at least one time too many, now, but I can't recommend it highly enough! On our honeymoon, the husband and I drove up the first 6000ft of the mountain, as I'd heard about the brunch at Timberline Lodge on the internet and wanted to give it a try. As soon as we arrived, we changed our plans, we were going to stay! After the super-helpful reception staff gave us a mini-tour of the rooms available that night, we splashed out on a lovely little room near the bar bwah ha ha. Best spur of the moment decision ever. The scenery, the facilities (outdoor swimming pool!), the staff, the restaurant, the bar, the brunch (wow, the the bloody mary here is excellent), the history (and I'm not just talking about the exterior shots for The Shining, or Roosevelt's visit in the 30s) and if I hadn't pretty much ruled skiiing out of my life when I realised quite how accident prone I am without the added bonuses of snow and sheer drops, I'm sure I'd love the outdoor pursuits available almost year round, too.
Okay, so like many of my working days in midtown, I'm back to the F train. I spent New Year's Day 2006 exploring Roosevelt Island with my cousin and his wife (who just had a baby daughter on Monday - hooray!). All of us had worked in midtown only blocks from the island, but none of us had ever made the trip across on the tram (or cable cars, as I would call them). At that time, gentrification was just beginning, and new apartment buildings were springing up or being sold off plan. We walked a full circuit of the manmade island, and managed to spy plenty of cool sights, like an abandoned and empty swimming pool (this photo by Alex Guidouk is so much better than the one I took), the former hospital at the south end of the island that was used in the creepy Dark Water movie, and even managed to fit in some time for delicious lemon meringue at a diner, yum yum.
So those are my first five....
More to come!