Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home from the River

October 6 marked the end of an inspirational season, with excellent conditions for sighting fish and only one day of snow. The biggest taimen measured a very conservative 55 inches, caught by Jim Hickey of Worldcast Anglers on a sculpin pattern.

After 14 hours on the so-called road, the guides and I rolled into Ulaanbataar looking forward to enjoying our first electrically chilled beers in more than a month. Because it was nearly midnight, the first half-dozen restaurants we entered were either already closing up or out of food but, finally, on the west side of Sukhbaatar Square, we found a place with the words "art" and "pub" on it, where the waiter was willing to bring us six plates of french fries and many cold bottles of Altan Gobi and Tiger (the tap for GEM, our favorite Mongolian brew, was sadly dry). Note: If you find yourself in the city at a more reasonable hour, I recommend the steak with roasted peppers at Veranda, the second floor of a restaurant called Silk Road, with a fine view of the monastery of the Choijin Lama.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Country Cookin

Back in the States again for a roadtrip: South to Midwest to Northeast. Have parked ourselves in Ocala, Murfreesboro, and Galesburg so far but the hands-down highlight has been Country Boy's Cookin (no g), exit 121 from Interstate 75 in Unadilla, Georgia. The ribs are moist, tender, with great flavor that only improves with a few shakes of sauce. (I recommend the hot and spicy.) The beans are sweet, the cole slaw is sweet, and the atmosphere is unironic Bassmaster Classic. I wrapped a few leftover ribs in foil and enjoyed them several hours later—truly enjoyed them—despite a motel room with no outside windows and the faint reek of filtered cigarettes.

On your way out of Country Boy's, do not miss the opportunity to buy a bag of freshly boiled peanuts—"the country caviar"—from Hardy Farms across the parking lot.

I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.

—Carl Sandburg

Friday, July 30, 2010

At Sea

One odd thing about dislocation as a way of life is the whirlpool of memory. Whenever I am tempted to consign the past to a predictable current, like an oarsman on a favorite river, or to a periodic ebb and flow, as comforting as the tides, the gyre returns, spinning.

And so the air is warm as breath again, with the faint hint of frangipani that we loved in Thailand and Malaysia.

And there are geckos here too, but the locals call them pega pega instead of chee chak. Like us, they are not natives to the island, but transplanted foreigners who have taken to their new home.

Our street is named after an obscure French author and alcoholic who did not die soon enough to escape Rimbaud's assessment of him as constitutionally incapable of true "vision."

Here, at least, he intersects with Byron, is only two blocks shy of Victor Hugo, and resides within shouting distance of Shakespeare.

Surely that is consolation, if consolation there might be.

Across the way, our neighbors fly a yellowfin tuna from their windmill and keep noisy parrots on the patio.

Which reminds me both of the Maldives and of my first island home in the Florida Keys, where two of my dearest friends served a nightly highball to their chihuahua.