Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I've just bought the plane tickets to go to Iceland in late December! I'm pretty excited about it.

Here is my current understanding of what the place will look like.

I've just started one of my favorite parts about going to a strange land: buying the travel guide and learning everything I can. A much more ambitious goal is to learn some Icelandic. The pronunciation is really different from anything I've played with before, so it's a challenge. Icelandic seems to share the unpleasant habit of English vowels being randomly long and short just because. There's a couple new letters, plus a bunch of accented letters. For example "hello" is "góðan dag". It kind of resembles "guten tag" I suppose. Just learning enough about it to say the place names in a taxi is going to take some work.

Iceland fun fact: Iceland was invaded by Britain then occupied by the US during WWII to keep it from the Germans.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pleasant Hill Shakers

The day after the chicken fest we took a different, country road way home. It was a really pleasant drive. I haven't quite put my finger on it, but I like the feel of the countryside in Kentucky much more than that of Illinois. Illinois is so intensely agricultural that the color green is only visible for a few months of the year. The corn and beans turn an ugly yellow when it's time for harvest, and after that the fields are muddy graveyards full of the remains of plants chopped apart by machines. Here there was much more forest and more much nice green grass to be seen from the roads. The tiny bit of yellow that we did see was the random little tobacco field. We stopped off at various places on our way back to Louisville where we were going to spend the night. The coolest place was Pleasant Hill. 

The northernmost blue dot there is where Pleasant Hill is located. Just south of that is Danville, where the recent Vice Presidential Debate was held. They had signs up advertising the upcoming event. That was kind of neat and noteworthy.

Pleasant Hill is the site of a defunct religious community called the Shakers. The most notable thing about this group is that men and women are mostly kept apart, there is no marriage, and there are no children born. New converts and adopted orphans were the community's only source of new members. Turns out that's bad for business.

The Shakers put a big emphasis on craftsmanship, similar to the renowned woodworking skills of the Amish. Here you can see the peg rails running along both walls. They had these cool little candle holders that fit onto the pegs to light a room.

This was probably the most interesting food I tried on the whole trip. It came on my mom's sandwich. It was funny because I asked our waitress what it was and she didn't know, and I don't think it was even on the menu. It turned out to be pickled watermelon rind. I don't think I've had a sweet thing pickled before. The sweetness of the fruit and the salty pickle brine combined to make something out of the ordinary.

These bee's wax candles smelled really good.

One thing that stuck with me was some ladies were making apple butter in a big cauldron over a fire. I've had apple butter before, but I guess I didn't realize it was so simple to make. We made pear butter back in St. Louis a few days ago that was delicious. I wonder what other fruits taste better when you put them in a crock pot for 10 hours?

Here a horse was being used to power a sorghum press. Squeezing the sugar cane-like plants produces a sweet liquid.

One of the vendors was selling items made from alpaca fur. I'd never touched one before. They were super soft. It was a quality petting zoo experience. I saw some of these guys running around Machu Picchu, but at the time I was trying to avoid rabies and/or ancient Incan curses.

We stayed our last night in Louisville. We walked around a bit downtown, but I don't feel like there's an awful lot to see just wandering around. St. Louis is much more fun!