John Knightley only was in mute astonishment. —
That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after
a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half a
mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed
company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of
civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike
him deeply. A man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in
the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long
talking, and might have been silent, who had been in more than one
crowd, and might have been alone! —; Such a man, to quit the
tranquillity and independence of his own fireside, and on the
evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the
world!... John Knightley looked at him with amazement, then
shrugged his shoulders....
There is no frigate like a folding aluminum lawn chair, but
occasionally the satisfaction of sitting in the driveway yelling at
lost Rhode Island tourists and stray kids on bikes pales enough to
motivate me to travel. But not far, and to geezer-friendly
The Red Lion Inn,
Stockbridge. A pleasant stop if you avoid the Mass Pike while
driving to the Catskills. I haven't been there in several years, but
it's a good sign that the music has disappeared from the web site.
Geezer nirvana: Mohonk Mountain
House. Visited in 2010—still pretty close to nirvana, even
after several years of spiraling rate increases. It's much more
yuppie-oriented and homogeneous; the eccentric old ladies of modest
means who'd go for (relatively) inexpensive cramped rooms sharing a
bath have been squeezed out. But perhaps a slight loss of character
was the price of its survival.
Harvard, Massachusetts: Oxbow
National Wildlife Refuge and Fruitlands Museum. To minimize
cash outlay, plan to arrive at Fruitlands after it closes. Park on
Prospect Hill Road and soak up the amazing vista to ease your
disappointment. Then go to Oxbow for an idyllic walk through the
woods punctuated by rifle fire from Fort Devens, just across the
Panoramas of Burke's Beach, Marshfield, and other locations on the Irish Riviera.
You enterprised a railroad through the valley.... The valley is gone, and the
gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour,
and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton.
John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera
Hanging around at the railroad tracks is Old Man Scanlon's idea of
a good time. It's virtually the only place where you can see,
hear, and feel trains operating at the speed God intended. Seeing
things and identifying them is the major draw, but vision isn't
the only sense to exercise—I heard my first American bittern
at the tracks. And occasionally you'll bump into another
The obligatory safety warning: trains are much bigger and faster
than you, and often surprisingly silent. Do not trespass.
Even along the Northeast Corridor, there are places with old telegraph
(?) lines and glass insulators. Well, there used to be, anyway, until
burly men with chainsaws fixed that for the electrification project.
The Times (London) reports ("Cow-tipping myth hasn't got a leg to stand on,"
by Jack Malvern, published at 12:00AM, November 5 2005; paywalled)
that an analysis by Canadian
researchers indicates that
is a myth. (You can tell it's not an American newspaper—they
use the term "cos theta" apparently expecting their readership to
understand; more typically newspaperish, they do misspell
"hypotenuse.") The conclusion, based on a static model, is
overstated. Even the researchers' more appropriate hypothetical
dynamic models ignore the most obvious indicator of successful
cow-tipping: the surprise factor. The idea is not to push the cow
over, but to startle it into losing its balance. They do mention
that it's hard to sneak up on a sleeping cow and hint at the
difficulty of effective team play, but if it were easy everyone
could do it. The stealth and subtlety involved in Olympic-caliber
cow-tipping is awesome to behold.