Retroblog – Taj Mahal

Worth visiting again and again.

Our family visited the Taj Majal twelve years ago this spring; after that 2009 visit I wrote “Taj is, quite simply, stunningly beautiful, exquisitely crafted, and a marvel of engineering and art.” Portions were under renovation at the time, so I was excited to return in 2017, as part of Dartmouth’s Mystical India tour. On that day we enjoyed blue skies and a fully-open site. Visit both posts for more info and more photos!

2009 Family photo at the Taj Mahal! David, Pam, John, Mara, Andy.

Retroblog – Ranthambore

A place worth revisiting – again.

My first visit to India’s Ranthambore National Park was in the spring of 2009, when we were on a tour of northern India. This park is famous for its tiger population, and we were not disappointed – but is also home to countless other species and beautiful scenery. Read about our 2009 visit and, for that matter, our 2017 re-visit. I hope to return again!

Ranthambore: A male tiger patrols his territory.

Return of Tesla

Better than new!

After seven sad weeks without my new Tesla, which was severely damaged in a fender-bender collision back in February (caught on video!), I was delighted today when the body shop returned my Tesla Model Y. It was repaired in Malden MA – two hours away – because there is no Tesla-qualified body shop anywhere in Vermont or New Hampshire. I selected that specific shop because they seemed to have a good reputation and offered free pickup and delivery. When you live two hours from the body shop, during a pandemic, ‘free delivery’ is a great perk.

The results are stunning… the car looks like new. In fact, better than new. Take a look at these photos, and then back at the collision photos, or the dirty condition of the car as delivered.

Requiring seven weeks, this was the Most…Expensive…Car.Detailing…EVER. But it is beautiful and gleaming and I sure am glad to have it back in action!

April Fools

And you thought it was spring.

Every year, as the snow melts, the birds return, and we get a few warm days, people who are new to New England think winter is over. As some old-timers recently told me, with a knowing look, don’t be fooled by mother nature. Spring may have decided to arrive, sure; but winter usually hasn’t quite yet agreed. April is a time of surprises – it can be 70º one day and then snow six inches the next. So it was no particular surprise to me that yesterday, April Fool’s day, it snowed several times. Just briefly. At the end of the day, though, as it became colder, a bit of snow decided to stick. Now, at 7am, it’s snowing hard!

Maple season

That golden harvest of spring.

Other people call it Spring. Here in northern New England, however, this season always goes by one of two other names: mud season or sugaring season.

A fresh quart of liquid gold – maple syrup from Sunrise Farm.

Sugaring is the process of boiling maple sap – gallons and gallons of it – down to maple syrup or, even further, to maple sugar. One of our favorite annual outings is to visit a local sugarhouse, often tucked into the woods beside a nearby farm, to experience the sights and smells of the boiling sap, and to purchase some of this precious sweet commodity. Last week I was pleased to stop by Sunrise Farm, where my friend Chuck had just concluded a successful boil, and bought four quarts of the good stuff. Just in time, too, because I’d used the last drop of our supply earlier that morning!

Oh, and mud season? More than once I have been stuck in the deep mud along a back road heading to a sugarhouse. The strong spring sunshine and warm daytime temperatures heat the surface of frozen dirt roads, while the underlying soil remains frozen; the melting snow and rainwater cannot drain into the frozen ground, so it turns the surface soil into a a muddy quagmire. Two years ago my car enjoyed this lovely experience, just a mile down our street. Eventually, the deep frost thaws, the soil drains, and the town ‘highway crew’ makes the rounds to grade the dirt roads smooth again.

My Prius gets stuck in the mud in March 2019

Ah yes, the two rites of spring in New England.

Retroblog – Ellora and Ajanta

Worth a return visit!

Two of the most stunning historic sites I’ve visited, anywhere in the world, are Ellora and Ajanta. About two thousand years ago, ancient Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu cultures carved and painted elaborate caves and entire temples from the basalt cliffs in western India. The results, preserved as UNESCO World Heritage sites, are nothing short of stunning. Take a return visit with me to that blog post, Ellora photo album, and Ajanta photos album.

Ellora: from the back looking forward; temple at left, rock face and gallery at right.