PT in DC

My trip to see Porcupine Tree in Washington was really fun, although it was tiring due to the schedule. The concert was absolutely incredible, not just the music but the whole experience. There were lights casting beams through the artificial mist, strobes pulsing in time to the drums, video screens adding depth to the music, the crowd was energetic, and there wasn’t a bad seat in the theater (The Anthem). The band started off with a few powerful songs, then eased up a little bit before intermission, then just blew everyone away during the second half. It was nearly a three hour show, and the audience would have stayed for another hour or two, but the singer said the band needed a break after doing New York, Philadelphia, and Washington on consecutive nights.

The next day I stopped at the International Spy Museum, then walked through the US Botanic Garden and past the Capitol on the way back to the train station. The train ride was 10 hours each way, but it’s not as much fun at night when you can’t see the scenery.

I took a few pictures, including one of a guy peeing on a wall in the park two blocks north of the Capitol.

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riding the rails

Tomorrow in the early morning I am taking Amtrak to Washington DC to go to a Porcupine Tree concert. I’m really excited because I wanted to see them in 2009 but missed my chance, then they took a 12-year break. Their style is hard-edged, guitar-based progressive rock with odd time signatures, unconventional chords and song structures, and dark, brooding lyrics. It’s really good music, but not quite feel-good music to dance to (unless you can dance in 11/8 time). I don’t know why the genre appeals to men much more than women, but as I’ve been told by my daughter, it will likely be a sausage-fest. I’m going alone because my wife doesn’t really like their music.

I’m staying overnight in Washington to see a museum or two on Monday, then riding the train back in the evening. I will get home around 2 am Tuesday morning and try to go to work at 7 am. I’ll be doing quite a bit of walking, and I wonder how my sciatica will respond. My leg might fall asleep, which would be rather inconvenient when I’m trying to catch a Metro.

I’m glad the railroad strike was averted, because that would have derailed my plans (pun intended). I would have driven my car and had plenty of time, but I’ve been looking forward to riding the train instead. It’s clean and comfortable, inexpensive, and easy compared to flying. I’m a little concerned about leaving my car for 48 hours at the train station in a sketchy part of a sketchy small town, but hopefully it will be okay.

A sampling of PT songs on YouTube, if you’re interested:
Blackest Eyes, What Happens Now, Halo, Harridan

separate vacations

I’ve been preoccupied lately with Canada. I’m fascinated with the idea of making a long road trip next summer to the far eastern point of Newfoundland, which is about as far as you can go without falling off the North American continent. I’m so fixated on this that I have already planned out a 12- to 14-day, 4400-mile journey, with different options for routes and sightseeing. About a week would be spent exploring Newfoundland, with three days’ driving each way to the ferry port to get there. Due to the compressed schedule, I would miss out on most of the attractions between here and there, which means I would have to make a second road trip to see everything in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. I would also like to make a third trip to see Montreal and Ottawa.

The problem with this plan is that my wife doesn’t really like road trips. She gets queasy and uncomfortable with long rides in the car. She doesn’t have the same level of enjoyment that I get from just seeing new places and new roads while driving for a full day. I’ll admit it’s a lot of windshield time in between places that might be interesting to visit, but I enjoy the drive just as much as the places I visit along the way. It’s the journey, not the destination.

The thing is, I would really like to do this trip by myself. I love finding interesting and out of the way trails to hike or places to visit, but we don’t necessarily have the same interests when we travel. We enjoy things at a different pace sometimes; I might see a museum in two hours when she wants to take four hours to see the same things. I enjoy playing travel agent and planning things out, and she tends to just go along with what I propose. I spend too much time worrying if she is having a good time, and she is not someone who tells me in the moment if something isn’t interesting.

I don’t know how to tell her that I want to go alone. We have taken separate excursions before, but not for more than a few days. This would be for two weeks, and I don’t know if it is fair for me to explore and see new places and have interesting stories while she is left behind and keeps going to work. Nothing is stopping her from doing the same thing, but that’s not really her kind of vacation. She gets more enjoyment out of going to the beach for a week and doing nothing but sitting on the beach and taking naps. We just did that together, and she said it takes some of the enjoyment away from her when I’m not having fun. I feel the same way.

somewhere else

No matter what I’m doing, I often find myself wishing I was somewhere else. I’ve been this way since I was a young kid. When I was at school, I would stare out the window and wish I was in the forest. When I lived in the woods, I wished I could live in town. When I lived in town, I wished I was back out of town again.

When I’m around people, I usually wish I was alone. Sometimes when I’m alone, I wish I could share the moment with someone. When I’m stuck at work, I wish I was driving somewhere, but sometimes when I’m driving I wish I could sit still. Sometimes when I’m away from home, I miss my people and wish I could be with them. But sometimes when I’m home, I wish I was by myself again. At first being a long-haul trucker satisfied my need for seeing new places, but it soon became just a difficult job that kept me away from home too much.

When I’m working (and no one is looking over my shoulder), I might open Google Maps for something, and then my mind starts drifting and I start looking for places I want to explore by myself: hiking in nature, seeing new cities, finding waterfalls, and planning road trips. When I’m done working, sometimes I go on a random drive just to see something new, but it’s getting harder to find new and interesting things within a couple of hours from home.

I don’t get bored easily, but I need something new all the time. I drift through museums faster than most people, looking at each painting or artifact just enough to enjoy it, but not long enough that I get bored with it. I can spend an hour where other people might spend all day. I’m still enjoying myself, but my enjoyment of the moment ends very quickly. I used to enjoy my work, but now it’s just a job, and sometimes it sucks the life out of me.

My life is not normal, but it’s not bad like it used to be. Even so, Sometimes I want to run away from it all – abandon my problems, hide somewhere off the beaten path, scratch out a living in isolation, and be alone in my misery. Unfortunately when you’re running away from yourself, you can’t run far. Maybe what I’m asking for is a final escape from myself, but there are too many places I haven’t visited yet for me to give in and finally end it all.

Maybe what I want is freedom – to come and go as I please, to see new things when I feel like it, and go back to my comfortable chair when I am done. I guess that’s what retirement is for, but I don’t see myself having a long time to enjoy freedom from having to work. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be very fortunate if I even make it to retirement age.

rob vs. the volcano

Once upon a time I went on real hikes. I hiked up a goddamn volcano, and I have the picture to prove it.

Lassen National Park is at the southern extent of the Cascades Range in California. There are fragile wetlands, desolate lava flow areas, hot springs and mud pots, and the trail to the top of Mt. Lassen, which last erupted in 1917.

I scanned a few pictures from the day I drove through the park. I only had time to hike to the top and continue on my way, but there was some nice scenery along the park roads.

Proof, bitches. Mount Shasta is in the far distance.

ice and granite

Now for some photos, this time on the way home from Las Vegas to Hippietown through Yosemite National Park. I have had the thrill of flying over the park a couple of times, and it is just as amazing from the air as it is on the ground. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted exploring Yosemite, but there are still great memories from the small area I did visit. I probably will never make it there again, but who knows?

Tioga Lake:

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Mount Dana:

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Tenaya Lake:

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from Olmstead Point (I think):

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All photos mine, May 2004.