Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Wow, I suck at keeping up with writing here. I take it as a sign that I am too busy enjoying my vacation, which is a good thing.

So I went to Ausable Chasm, about 45 minutes away from Lake Placid. It was a really cool place, carved by the Ausable River through sandstone. I had a nice one hour walk along the edge. Since the weather was bad, with light drizzles, not that many people were out and about. I met only five people on the whole walk, and when I came to the raft launch point I was the only one waiting.

Now, I am not an out-doorsy person at all. Ask anyone. Nature. Yuck. And I am really not someone who's into hiking or diving or skiing or whatever. My brother got me to try cave tubing a few years back, which was insanely cool, but stuff like that is never on my agenda by my own choice.

When I got there I wasn't planning on going rafting. I didn't even know it was an option. I'm not even sure I registered it as I bought the ticket, but looking back at it I know she asked me if I wanted to add the raft trip or not. So all of a sudden I was standing there, on a dock, while the guide was prepping the boat.

It wasn't a wild ride by any means. The so called rapids weren't so rapid, and we just drifted along. A nice little ride, and it was cool to actually be at the bottom of the chasm which at places was 50 meters deep. I took some pics, up on Facebook, and had a nice conversation with the guide. I wrote him off as the stereotypical "hang loose dude" dude first, but it turned out he had a degree in chemical engineering and had chosen to get out of the lab and into nature. Good for him!

The raft ride was half an hour, and the walk back to the tourist centre was another 45 minutes. Since I am a couch potato extraordinaire I was really tired at this point. This combined with the fact that the weather got worse meant I decided to scrap my other planned outing. Instead? Football! I often only watch one game per week at home, so now that I had the opportunity I binged and watched almost three in a row. Sprawled on the bed, pizza box on my stomach, yelling at the screen like an actual sports fan.

On Monday I got into the car and drove to Albany. It was very much just a stop on the way, and I hadn't planned on doing much of anything. I packed a box of books and some other stuff I'd bought and sent it home, to be able to cram more stuff into my bag for the flight home, and did laundry. Yes, laundry. The glamour of a three week vacation.

In the evening I went to a nearby sports bar and watched the Bears annihilate the Cowboys. I talked to two men in their 60s about all things football and Sweden, and let them buy me a drink.
"Who's the most known Swedish person in sports or pop culture then?" they said.
"Björn Borg!" one of them answered before I had the time to say "ABBA."

What are your thoughts on that subject?

Today I drove to Manchester, New Hampshire, to have dinner with Jeanne, the teacher from the writing class I took last year, and her husband. The trip here was interesting.

Google: The trip takes four hours!
My GPS: Four hours? Pfft! I laugh at your four hours! Three hours and twenty minutes! BWAHAHAHAHA!

We went to a nice Italian place and reminisced about last summer. It was a good night. Now I've been writing and watching weird reality shows on SyFy (Face Off and Hot Set). I have also finished booking some nice restaurants in New York. Hooray! Tomorrow, up early to drive to Boston to fly to NYC.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ice cream fail. And no crocodiles.

Long post again. Sorry.

The drive from Lincoln to Burlington was very scenic. More rolling hills, more dark woods, more leaves that looked like they were on fire. For a moment I felt like I would get desensitized, that I would get scenic overload, and not be able to appreciate it anymore. But then I took a turn and came upon yet another breathtaking landscape, and that thought was gone baby gone.

I was too early for check-in again, so I went a-hunting for food, and killed some time over a burger with my book. The book is a collection of the best short stories that have been published in Hammer & Bolter, Games Workshop's online magazine for fiction set in their different universes. I have written quite a lot of stuff set in the WH40K universe and read some, some good, some bad, some downright awful. Now I wanted to read some of those short stories, to get an idea of the level of writing and if I could match it. I think I can. Hell no, I know I can. Applications open April 1st. I'm going to have a killer story done then.

But back to the trip. I didn't really do much of anything in Burlington. The Headache was acting up, so I spent some time reading, writing, walking around. Then I went to the movies and saw End of Watch. Very different for a cop movie, in a lot of ways, almost all of them good. See it.

I left early to drive to Lake Placid. As I was walking out through the lobby I noticed a pamphlet that had the Ben & Jerry's logo on it. Ooooh. Picked it up. Opened it. Read. Factory tour! See Ben & Jerry´s ice cream madness! Wohoo!

Then. Disaster. "The factory doesn't make ice cream on the weekend." NOOOOOOOOO!!! So a tour would be just...a tour. A these here are the machines that usually make ice cream kind of thing. No no no. Even worse? I could have gone Friday. Fucking Headache that made me ignore everything, including the pamphlet stand in the lobby.

Instead, I got into the car and set off for Lake Placid. Again, the GPS took me on another route than what Google suggested. Smaller roads, which I prefer. More small towns, more twisting and turning roads. And a ferry! I had no idea I was taking one, and all of sudden I was in line, waiting to drive onto the ferry. I think it was good that I was unprepared. I have horrible experiences with sea sickness, and I would probably have been on edge knowing I was getting on a boat.

It went fine. Dark clouds overhead and thick mists shrouded the nearby mountains and hills, but the wind was weak and the lake flat. The ferry carried me into the state of New York.

Then another drive through spectacular landscapes. Peaks and valleys, woods and rivers. Mind-blowing, and so unlike anything I've seen before. Finally I arrived in Lake Placid. A small town, 2500ish people, still clinging to the glory of the 1980 winter Olympics. The whole place screams winter sports, and the main street is a major tourist trap in the same league as Old Town in Stockholm. Really not my kind of place at first glance, but there are other reasons it's full of tourists.

This time I did look at the pamphlets. So tomorrow I am going on a tour of a gorge about an hour from here, and then something else that I can't remember right now. The weather is going to suck, but that will make people stay away from those activities, so yay!

I went to the movies yet again today, and saw Looper. Nice scifi action movie with some unexpected twists. I had some major flaws, but was still well worth seeing. The theatre was really old school. One ticket window, small coarse paper tickets, a little old man in a uniform tearing the stubs, what I presume was his wife behind the snack counter. The ticket was seven dollars, the snacks were three bucks each, regardless of the kind.

In line ahead of me I heard some people talking about a fundraiser for the theatre. Inside, the people that had been talking sat down behind me and kept talking. So I got into the conversation. Turns out the theatre has to upgrade to digital projectors to be able to show new movies, and they simply don't have the money. We discussed ways they could use Funded By Me or similar sites to raise money from people outside of town that had been to the theatre. I for one would gladly pay, since the place was cool and little old men need their movie theatres. We also talked a bit about Sweden and the 49ers and Lake Placid and other stuff. One of them was a former Olympian and had won a silver medal in luge in the Nagano Olympics. Cool.

I am staying one more night in Lake Placid before going on to Albany. Tomorrow I will try and get up early to go to the gorge. In the evening I will go to the sports bar down the street to find some football fans and scream at a game. In between I may go look for crocodiles, but I doubt I'll find any...

No pics today. Maybe tomorrow, or after Albany.

Friday, September 28, 2012

This and that

A few days to summarize, so this will be a long post. Hopefully I will write more frequently now that I am on the road and have access to wifi every day.

My last day in the Twin Cities. We looked around for some shoes (didn't find any), hung out with Chad and had the planned dinner with Paul's mom Roberta and her husband. Mary made cake pops, which is just what it sounds like. Cake. On a stick. Covered in frosting. Genius.

Turns out Paul's neighbors are assholes. Really. Suddenly there was a Vote Yes on their front lawn, as in they don't want gay men and women to be able to marry their partners. Paul wanted to put up a sign pointing to their with "This explains a lot" on it. I got the whole story on what it explained. Too long a story to write here and now.

My stay in St Paul/Minneapolis was great. Very relaxed, and a great start to my trip. I will try to go back at some point, or convice Paul and Mary to come hang out in Stockholm.

Paul drove me to the airport in the morning and I got on a flight for Boston. When I got there, I went to pick up my rental car.
"You get a free upgrade," the girl behind the counter said. Cool. So I went outside to what was no longer a Yaris but a Ford Focus. As I was walking up to the car, another rent-a-car guy guided another customer to it and put him in there.
"I was supposed to take that car," I said.
"Oh," he answered. "Well. Then you get a free upgrade."
So now I'm driving a Chrysler 200. Nice car. Smooth ride and enough power to make it fun to drive.

Off I went, to go to Erin's place in Shapleigh, Maine. I hung out with her last summer, after Odyssey, for the first time ever. We've known each other since 2008, when I found her blog by pressing "Show random blog" on Blogspot, and have talked about just about everything since then. Last time, it felt like we'd known each other for a long time and had talked just hours before, and it was the same thing this time.

The drive from Boston was easy the last time. Now it was complete chaos. It was supposed to take about two, two and a half hours. It took four. I took so many wrong turns. Some on my own, a few because the GPS and I disagreed on where to go. Yeah, OK, so they were all my fault. I sent Erin a couple of text messages to update her on progress, or rather the lack of. Later, I learned that to her it looked like they came from two different numbers, She replied to both of them, neither of them made it to my phone. Why? She has a BlackBerry. BlackBerry sucks. BlackBerry vendor RIM puts all sorts of shit in any mobile network that wants to use their devices. Also, American mobile service providers tend to handle messages differently, though not this different. Whatever.

I finally made it to Bentley's, where Erin works. I had a steak sandwich while I waited for her to close the gift shop, and then we went to buy breakfast stuff. She keeps almost no food at home. We bought a bottle of whiskey and had a "sit up late and drink whiskey and talk" kind of night.

"I'm going to be a shit hostess," Erin wrote as we were planning this visit. Why? Because I had to take her to the dentist. So on Wednesday we drove to Saco, the very definition of Small Town America. Walking down the main road, I saw a tshirt in a thrift store window that I had to own. So once Erin was done, we walked over there and I bought it. I also bought a gift for Linus (he wanted Romney campaign material, I found something better), and Erin found a pair of Tony Lama boots (whoever he is) that she was wild about and bought.

Then we spent hours driving around backstage America, talking, looking, laughing. We discussed Tim Burton and his propensity to work with Johnny Depp. "Someone should stage an intervention," Erin said. She graciously offered to take Johnny off Tim's hands. A sign outside a gunstore said "Real heros wear dog tags, not capes." "Well, no," I pointed out. "Batman wears a cape. And he knows how to spell heroes."

The day ended at Buck's Naked BBQ, where we had great ribs, and then back to Erin's cabin. I fell asleep at 2130. No, really. Before ten o´clock. Nighty night.

I left Erin's house around ten, to go off on my roadtrip proper. I punched in the address of the hotel in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and let the GPS guide me. The path that Google Maps had suggested turned out to be completely different from what the GPS said, and that was a good thing. The GPS took me down small backroads, through teeny tiny towns. It was a great drive on a beautiful fall day.

During the drive, I learned of a sure way of increasing my pulse. Have a bunch of turkeys step out into the road in front of my car. Those are some big birds, especially when you're braking to avoid hitting them. Lucky for me, the road was twisting and turning before that, so I wasn't going fast.

It was too early for check-in when I arrived at the hotel. The staff suggested a scenic drive I could take, so I did. And what a landscape it is around here. Hills and cliffs and mountains, and trees exploding with color. People go here, I have been told, simply to look at the leaves turning. I can see why. From the view-points I could see rolling vistas of dark green woods that looked like they had been painted with vivid orange and deep blood red. Spectacular.

I stumbled on the Cannon Mountain Tramway, and rode a cable car to the top of the mountain, 1200 meters above sea level and 600 meters above the point where the car started. More spectacular views, all the way to Canada. The guide said they had about ten days a year with visibility as good as today, so I lucked out.

Finally back to the hotel. Went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. One of the few bad things about travelling alone is eating alone. It's really boring.

When I post this tomorrow morning, I will be ready to go on the next part of my trip, to Burlington, Vermont. Another two hour drive, hopefully through more spectacular landscapes.

If you want to see pictures, go to my Facebook page and look.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three and out

So it turned we didn't go to the zombie bar or the Mono gig. I was way too tired and jetlagged for the gig, and the bar just slipped our minds. We met Paul's friend Chad and drove around a bit, did some shopping (books and the obligatory Cthulhu X-mas ornament), and sat around talking.

We went to a Mexican place where I had a burrito the size of my thigh, and later simple bar food before we went to see Safety Not Guaranteed. You need to see this movie. Watch the trailer, but since it shows too much, like almost all trailers these days, just watch a minute or so.

Yesterday it was time for the game. I'd only been to two NFL games before, one in 2005 (Rams @ Cardinals) and the other last year, in London (Bears @ Buccaneers), and was really looking forward to seeing "my" team, the San Fransisco 49ers. They were 2-0 before the game, and looking really strong. On paper it was an easy victory over the Vikings.

But no. The 9ers had their asses kicked in a 24-13 loss, a result which in no way reflected the game. It should have been 40-13. Their offense was miserable, and against the Vikings' passing game, their defense sucked. The rookie Vikings QB did a great job and in a few years he's going to be awesome. The noise level in the dome when the Vikings were on defense and it was third down was unbelievable. I felt like someone had repeatedly hit me over the head when I got out of there.

Still, it was a cool experience. I started talking to a couple of people next to me, best friends who supported one team each, and had a few laughs with them. I pointed out that when not even a bearded Swede is a Vikings fan you should start thinking about supporting another team. One of them had been travelling all over Europe but not to Sweden, so we talked a bit about that. Do the women also have beards? he asked. I am the best-looking woman in the country, I replied.

Paul and Mary picked me up after the game, and we met up with Chad again. Went to a great restaurant that did Pakistani/Afghani/Indian food. I had steamed dumplings, filled with veggies, chicken and yak. Yes, yak. Good stuff. Then we went to Chad's place, lit a fire, poured a bourbon and sat talking until midnightish. Like Paul, Chad is a geek (we shall inherit the Earth!), but he has taken it one step further and built himself a hidden room. It was hidden behind a bookshelf and accessed using a keypad behind a panel. Soooo cool. Not quite a panic room, more like an anxiety room.

And that was Sunday. Today we might go shopping for shoes, and later Paul's mom is coming over for dinner. She followed our Odyssey adventures via my blog last year, and wants to say hi. Tomorrow I fly to Boston to start my New England roadtrip.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's alive!

And now, this blog rises from the ashes! I documented my time at the Odyssey workshop last year here, as well as my vacation after. Now I will use it to document this year's trip. Here we go.

Hello, children! Today we are going to play "What would you do to make airport security nervous?" Little Martin, what would be your answer to that question?
Ehm...grow a big beard and hide two 30 cm long screwdrivers in my carry-on?
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

The beard we all know about, the screwdrivers I had forgotten completely. Jen and I worked in her apartment over the last month or so, to get it ready for sale, and I had put them in the outside pocket of my backpack to take them home. But no. There they remained, hidden, waiting, until a scanner in Amsterdam picked them up. No big commotion or anything, but two guys that looked like the others had nick-named "The Linebackers" did move a bit closer.

In the end, no problem. I am just out two screwdrivers. My question, though, is this. How come they weren't found by the scanners in Stockholm, as I flew to Amsterdam? Odd.

Other highlights included the man across the aisle who wore sunglasses the whole flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam, and the little girl who wailed for half an hour because her mom wasn't going on vacation too.

Anywho. Now I am in my friend Paul's house in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I flew in yesterday, a thirteen-hour trip from Stockholm to Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Paul and his wife picked me up, and then we sat up for a while, ate pizza and talked. I met Paul at the Odyssey workshop last year, so naturally we talked a bit about writing and the people and memories etc, but also other things.

It turns out that Minnesota will be voting to put an amendment on the state Constitution banning same sex marriage. They already have a law prohibiting it, an amendment would add it to the Constitution which means the law can't be voted down later. Bullshit. Complete bullshit. There's a big Vote No sign on the front lawn here at the house, of course.

I had no plans for my stay in the Twin Cities except the 49ers game on Sunday. Today it looks like we're going to a bar with a zombie theme and then go see Mono play at a small club. Before that, nothing planned, but probably some shopping and food.

That is all for now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Goodnight, New York

My last night in New York. I'm exhausted, having walked roughly 60 New York blocks today. I did some more shopping (some gifts, another pair of sneakers, a few dvds, etc), met up with Self-Service (who no longer works at my company but will always be associated with Self-Service) for awesome ramen noodles in the Village. Good times were had.

Back at the hotel, I had a minor panic attack after putting all the stuff that had to be packed on the bed. But I persevered, and now it is all packed. Yay!

I shall leave you with some more pics from my excursions.

Street art in the Village.

Basketball on an open court on 6th Street.

Playing American handball, one-wall, on asphalt. Hardcore.

"Come on! We were tied at 20!"
"We're up 20-19!"
"Oh come on! Tied at 20!"
"Fine. Tied at 20. Whatever. We'll still win."
And they did.

Scrap Yard. Heaven for graffiti artists. This is
where I bought the bag from yesterday's post.

I was so happy to stumble over this wall painting,
as seen in the mind-blowing documentary Up There.

The Dude abides.

Can you hear it calling your name, Melon?

The cupcakes, in all their glory.

Cookie dough cupcake on the left.
Oreo cheesecake on the right.
*insert Homer drooling sound here*

Sadly, the store didn't exist anymore.

A typical Nolita street.

Rack 'em and stack 'em.

Me and my homie Squeaker.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bag. Bug. Drink. Fish.

I bought a bag today. Though it's the black version.

I killed a bug today. Then I changed rooms at the hotel.

I had a drink today. With a OdFellow 2009 and her romance writer friend.

And before bed, just now, I ate a bag of these:

In Sweden, they're called "Fish".

I also bought some other stuff. And I walked. I walked and walked and walked. I walked until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I walked some more.

Tomorrow, brunch with two co-workers, who happen to be here. Then shopping. Then food with an ex co-worker, who also happens to be here. Then agonize over packing. Then sleep. Then fly home. Good night, Internet, where ever you are.