Posted in Californian road trip on September 29, 2009 |
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Having been to Vegas on our first trip to the States I kind of thought that Reno, the ‘biggest little city in the world’ would be very similar, loads of people, loads of gambling, soliciting everywhere, good food (amazingly as we thought in Vegas) smaller bed rooms (to encourage you to gamble!) and fun!
In fact it was pretty quiet on Monday afternoon when we arrived, not too many people, most of them gambling, no soliciting that we saw, good food if you selected carefully, a huge and comfortable bed room and a great place to unwind after our delightful ’eco’ experience. Ironically, the Sands Hotel where we stayed cost a fraction of the price of any of our previous accomodation as we arrived outside a weekend ($34.99 + tax), our room was MASSIVE and we had a nice bathroom which was a BIG bonus for me and the clientele were pretty middle class and conservative (not sure how pollitically correct that statement is!). Once we had scanned the literature in the bedroom we immediately decided to gather our wits and stay for two rather than one night in order to relax a bit and take some time to visit the amazing Farrah National Automobile Museum. One thing that became immediately obviously as we strolled around the strip on Monday evening was how the current economical climate appears to have definitely hit Reno. Quite a few of the large hotel/casino complexes were closed and there were people sleeping rough and begging on the streets but the reason this might have been more obvious is because the lack of people staying in town was pretty startling. When we were in Vegas it was HOPPING mid week, Reno was just exsisting and ticking over waiting for the onflux of bikers which were due to arrive on Thursday night and Friday morning for a HUGE festival taking place over the weekend. For all of that I definitely enjoyed our stay, the town felt surprisingly safe, we weren’t ripped off in any way, I actually had my meal of the holiday at our own hotel (an excellent vegeterian pad thai) and the automible museum was brilliant although if you were one of the people glued to your slot machine possibly this would not be high on your adgenda! Moving on from Reno on Wednesday morning we got totally tied up in traffic restrictions, this was due to the road closures which enabled the city organise for the bikers weekend and it took us about 55 minutes to actually leave the city, pretty frustrating but good fun watching all the bikes which were already starting to arrive in droves. Our aim was to get to Yosemite but we got diverted along the way when we arrived at Mono lake and discovered that we were only a short distance from Bodie, a totally preserved mining town nestling in a desolate area of high desert.
Outside one of the larger abandoned houses in Bodie
Bodie was AMAZING! It is absoloutely astounding to think that after the gold rush when the town was abandoned most people just left all their possessions exactly as they were. Houses are furnished, shops and hotels are stocked, abandoned vehicles litter the desert, totally an awsome sight. There is an excellent museum inside the main public building and we discovered that it was far too expensive to transport items out of the town at the turn of the century therefore everyone just abandoned things when financial circumstances made staying in the town unsustainable except for a few hardy survivors who stayed on well into the twentieth century. It was a fascinating insight into the harsh conditions speculators lived in in the late 1880s, summer temperatures of over 90 degrees, winters up to minus 40. Many of the people died due to the weather and lack of insulation but others made their fortunes, sometimes $90,000 in 3 months, quite amazing. We then moved on to the north eastern side of Yosemite and stayed in a fun little spot called Lee Vining which was just 12 miles outside the park and had some basic but good food and accomodation plus a small cafe with decent coffee and everywhere had a nice friendly atmosphere. Using this as our base for 2 nights we headed into Yosemite, more to follow in the next post!
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Posted in Californian road trip, Felt, tagged America, brooch, embellisher, Felt, fibre, internet, mixed media, Tastykaeru on September 18, 2009 |
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Alan and I have had NO internet connectivity for the last 4 days and although the motel we stayed in last night advertised high speed access this was unfortunately not to be! Please excuse this really short post, I am afraid that I will get cut off at any time but hopefully tonight will be better and at last I will be able to update you properly about all our travelling and my fibre activities over the last days on the road.
I was thrilled to discover that I have won a gorgeous brooch from talanted Kate on her Tastykaeru fibre blog. This is a great blog for all of you experimental fibre and mixed media addicts to follow, lots of interesting posts and beautiful pictures. It will be very interesting to open the package when I get home, I have only used a needle punch embellisher once myself but know that the work created can be amazingly inventive and interesting.
Just leaving for the open road again, hope to catch up with everything tonight or some time tomorrow…… guess you could call me an optimist!
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Posted in Californian road trip, Exhibitions, Felt, tagged artist, bear, cotton, crochet, Elaine Prunty, Felt, felt flowers, Felting, glass, redwoods, Sculpture in Context, sea lions, seals, silk, wool on September 13, 2009 |
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Thanks so much to fellow ‘Sculpture in Context’ exhibitor Elaine Prunty for including my felt flowers among her favourites from the exhibition, you can check out some great images on this post from her blog. Elaine is a very talanted glass artist and it is really interesting to go back through her blog and follow the progress of her ‘seven year old tree’ from conception to installation!
Alan and I are just about to hit the road again having spent a couple of great days walking through some of the most amazing giant redwoods ever. On Friday we met a black bear twice, he or she was calmly picking blackberries from the briars and only about 7m away from us, quite surreal! We also have had great fun watching giant seals, sea lions and elk, the wildlife is absolutely fabulous in this part of the world. This morning we are heading over the border to Grant’s Pass in Oregon and from there we will be travelling down to Lava Beds National Monument and then on to Lassen Valley Volcanic Park. Hopefully I will be able to pick up a new camera somewhere along the way, at Sears I was told to check out K Mart as they might have the Panasonic Lumix model that I am on the lookout for. On the fibre side of things my crochet journey continues, one of the books that I have picked up on my travels is ’365 crochet stitches a year’ and at the moment I am experimenting with a shell pattern from October 20th and using the remainder of the silk/cotton/wool mix from Noro. To be cont …..
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Posted in Californian road trip, Exhibitions, Felt, Uncategorized, tagged Bodega, coast, cotton, cowl, crochet, Felt, Felting, fiber, fibre, San Fransicso, Santa Rosa, silk, Sonoma, wine, wool, yarn on September 8, 2009 |
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Last Wednesday I attended the opening of Sculpture in Context with my friend Sheila Ahern (Feltmakers Ireland and board member of the Crafts Council) and despite the dreadful rain we had a great time looking at the various exhibits and enjoying a glass of wine. The work throughout the garden and in the various green houses looks amazing so if you are anywhere in the area don’t miss this great opportunity to visit this beautiful space and view top class sculpture from all over Europe, admission is free and the exhibition continues until 16th October. That evening I drove back to Clasheen and at 4.40am Alan and I caught the airport bus before our flights to San Fransisco, we are now officially on vacation!
On Thursday night we stayed near the airport at the Quality Inn and Suites (clean, relatively cheap and convenient) before collecting our ‘Green’ rental car and setting out on our road trip through northern California. Our first day we drove through the Sonoma Valley, a premier wine producing region near Napa taking our time and just enjoying the scenery before heading cross country for the rocky coastline near Bodega Bay. Once we got near where we had planned on staying for our first night it soon became apparent the due to Labour Day weekend lodging prices were extremely high. Eventually we headed back inland a bit and ended up staying in Santa Rosa, not ideal but actually not the worst. As we left the following morning I was delighted to see a knitting store called Village Knitters by chance and what do you guess, we had to stop so that I could get my fibre fix. The store was a little like Stephanie Kennedy’s new shop ‘The Yarn Room’ in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, gorgeous yarns, loads of books and a knitting workshop in progress at the back of the store! I bought some gorgeous new Noro yarn in a black and lime colourway, it is a 45% silk, 35% cotton and 20% wool mix (hope I have the proportions right) which feels beautifully soft and tactile in the hand. This is earmarked for myself, I am making a crochet cowl and in fact I have already made a wool cowl on the flight, a great opportunity to complete some Christmas presents during the time I am away from felting! We then ambled along small rural roads and arrived in Bodega, a pretty little village where Hitchcock filmed ‘The Birds’. The village had some interesting antique shops as well as a great artisan’s co-op where I was delighted to buy some locally produced wool yarn as well as some gorgeous soft combed alpaca tops, also local I think. We ate some tasty barbecued oysters and had a beer for lunch and then visited the schoolhouse where much of the movie was filmed before heading out to the coast and continuing north along route 1.
The only difficulty that we have had so far in the States is that internet access appears to be a problem for us. Alan did bring his computer but for some reason doesn’t appear able to connect to wi-fi anywhere that it says it is enabled so unfortunately my posts may be sporadic and constrained by finding locations where there is an internet cafe. Apologies in advance for the sketchy posting, I will keep you as up to date as possible but it may be with intervals of 4 or 5 days between posts. To be continued …..
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