Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm glad that they're keeping the obelisk

The Vance obelisk is a landmark in downtown Asheville...so this obelisk-obsessed blog is glad to see that it still features in the plans for a significantly upgraded Pack Square. Jon, we're not alone in this obsession: check out this Flickr pool: http://www.flickr.com/groups/obelisksaroundtheworld/pool/

Monday, June 29, 2009

In the mountains...

The blog successfully transferred Nate to Falling Creek Camp in Tuxedo, NC, on Sunday morning, and then spent the rest of the day wandering around Asheville. Susan was astonished to find that Asheville is not a quaint Disney-esque mountain tourist town filled with luxury shops but also a gritty 19th century city filled with working artists. So she liked it even better than she had imagined she would. The ubiquitous gang graffiti, however, surprised both Susan and Jon - initially mysterious but ultimately repellent...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hawk included, deer not allowed

No walk on Thursday: Jon to a run-through of Dead Man's Cell Phone and Susan and Nate to Graylyn Pool. The house next door to Susan's is for sale. So far, despite being reasonably priced it has attracted little interest. Maybe the addition of a red-tailed hawk to the roof will help? This species of hawk is frequently visible as it hunts along Silas Creek behind Susan's house. Earlier this week, a deer startled Susan while she was gardening in her backyard. Perhaps she was mistaken, but the deer appeared to have shreds of day lilies dripping from its jaws. This is not THAT deer, but one that Jon photographed in some unlucky homeowner's yard during our walk on June 23rd. New slogan for Winston-Salem: "the city that thinks it's a suburb."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't let it be forgot...

Our goal on Wednesday evening was to return to Camelot. After an interesting wrong turn took us into new territory yet again, we recovered, reoriented, and redirected ourselves to an interesting development-in-progress called Camelot ("in the $500,000s"). The one story brick houses here are attractive and interesting, and most have their garages tucked around the back, creating urban-style alleys. So Susan likes the houses very much and, although they are not small, many are just two bedroom. Many lots are still available, but most of the houses already built have been sold. Building is apparently at a sensible standstill until buyers appear. Why does all of this make the blog uneasy? Could it be that the idea of building islands of development far from any services, retail, schools, or places of employment is just too 20th century for the blog's taste? For the record, the walk score of homes in Camelot is 5 out of 100. For comparison, Jon's walk score is 60, and Susan's is 23. Today's photo is our last look back at the blog's DC trip.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's an emergency, I need some art!

Art on Call is another extremely interesting program of the nonprofit organization called Cultural Tourism DC. Some of the police and fire call boxes in DC date back to the 1860s. They were used until the 1970s, when the 911 system was introduced. The electronic guts of the boxes were removed in 1995, but, unsurprisingly, DC lacked the funds to remove the big heavy metal boxes. I couldn't find out who first glimpsed the future of the boxes as a form of public art, but the Art on Call project began in 2000 as a city/community partnership. The first task was to map the abandoned call boxes; the second was to make them safe to work on (lead paint remediation followed by application of primer); the third was to engage the artists. Twelve neighborhood organizations in different areas of DC are currently at work. They are the ones who pick the neighborhood color palette. To date more than a thousand call boxes have been identified, but relatively few have metamorphosed into public art. Jon photographed quite a few while we walked in southwest DC last weekend. The southwest neighborhood is therefore a bit ahead of the curve, but Sheridan-Kalorama not only has 16 completed call boxes but also a walking trail that connects them!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon finds a fence he likes

Monday's walk took us into the neighborhood around the Forsyth Country Club, which was founded in 1912. The surrounding houses are nowhere near as old as the club, and those dating from the 1950s and 1960s are surprisingly modest. The neighborhood is, however, in the throes of a mini "tear down" boom. This is the first time we have encountered this phenomenon on more than a single house scale in Winston-Salem. It's hard for mere professors to comprehend, I guess, that proximity to a country club in and of itself increases the value of land to such an extraordinary extent that McMansions are required. I took some time this morning to look over our photographs from our weekend trip to DC. Jon was awestruck when we encountered this fence on the National Mall last Saturday, part of the preparations for next week's Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Susan and Nate enjoyed seeing a Sol LeWitt wall drawing at the Hirshhorn Museum, in part because Nate's cousin Anna spent last summer in Williamstown, MA, working at the Williams College Museum of Art creating several LeWitt works for what I have just discovered is a MAJOR LeWitt retrospective of 105 large works. (Note to Jon: we NEED to go see this exhibit. Fortunately for slackers like us, it is on display through 2033.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

River farms to urban towers...

In a case of blatant urban walking onemanship, Maggie Christman lured us from Winston-Salem to Washington DC with her account of the Southwest Heritage Trail, which we walked with her late Sunday morning. View our path here. What a find, Maggie! We were guided by an intelligent brochure, and each of the trail markers was lavishly illustrated with well-chosen historical photographs. A little online research this morning revealed that there are 8 other "cultural tourism" trails in DC, so I guess we'll be back, with our walking shoes on.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Google sometimes shows what was, not what is or what will be

We had a wet but interesting walk through more of the apparently infinite Ardmore section of Winston-Salem on Wednesday night. While we walked we reflected on the slippage between reality and the Google view of the world, which we see when we use Path Tracker. A case in point is found in last week's trek through a new development called Millhouse Place, which is located just off Robinhood Road. Compare the promotional sign with the Google view of our world...use the outline of the lake for orientation. Neither, of course, is a true view of the world as it is, as most of the Millhouse Place lots are currently unbuilt.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The rain is getting on everyone's nerves...

No walk on Tuesday evening because of the rain. We saw this sign on Monday in the window of the lonely spec house in Milhaven Park. This development is notable because it is being built by the developers of Traemor! Their promotional literature nailed the source of their appeal - they are purposefully designing their houses to de-emphasize cars and garages. It's unclear if Milhaven Park will have the charm of Traemor, as the houses are going to be larger and pricier, and there is no intent to have a "back alley" between two rows of houses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

House with matching vehicle on lake with koi pond...

Does Susan NEED this house, vehicle, and lake, all of which were discovered on Monday evening's walk? Which is for sale and which our friends at zillow.com estimate can be had for about $659,000? Probably not, but it is nice to know where such a place can be found in Winston-Salem if one were ever to need such a thing...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Infrared? Seismic? Inductive loop?

After we encountered this sign on a Greensboro greenway, I've been wondering how trail counters work...the most widely used types turn out to be infrared and seismic, according to a helpful publication of the United States Department of Agriculture titled Trail Traffic Counters Update. Another useful resource is the website for the ITI Remote Trail Traffic Counting System. Because we didn't see any obvious camera, I'm thinking seismic...the type preferred in areas where vandalism is a problem.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Off the subject

It's hard to argue that Abe has anything to do with walking in Winston-Salem, but the blog has been acting a little erratic lately. Here are three scenes from convocation weekend at the University of Chicago: the sign on the door to Abe's dorm room, the rain on the quad during the convocation, and Abe holding his diploma after the rain finally stopped. Congratulations, Abe!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy 50th, Jon!

This is the blog's 50th post. Despite managing to squeeze in a short exploration of the Robinhood Road area west of Shattalon last evening before the rains came Wednesday evening, the blog is still, in a manner of speaking, trapped in the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. In the photo taken from the lighthouse Jon shows a Miyazaki-like reverence for clouds. He then went on to capture the old and the new lighthouse sites in a single photo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inside the lighthouse

We took a vertical hike on Monday morning (up the Cape Hatteras lighthouse stairs, all the way to the top). The views of the water and the clouds were spectacular, but the views inside were almost more interesting. Jon, do you like the black and white version of this shot?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back in Winston

The blog returns to Winston with many happy memories of a short but major (by the blog's standards, which are admittedly very low) trip to Avon in the Outer Banks. There is much of interest to report, including a new obelisk sighting, but for today the blog is enjoying two photos from its visit this morning to The Wright Brothers National Monument. The first shows Nate gamely assisting Orville; the second is a charming detail from the beautiful art deco door in the monument at the top of Kill Devil Hill.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beach bound!

The blog sometimes surprises itself. Today is a case in point. The blog has decided to head to the Outer Banks for a few days with friends Hugh and Christina. Today's first photo looks back to Susan's recent trip to Illinois. She and Christina posed outside of the new pollinator museum in Urbana. Christina's daughter Erica was the photographer. The second photo was taken by Jon in Woodland Hills. What an original mail box painting!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trouble in the 'hood...

Rain on Thursday was compatible with Susan and Nate going to see the Pixar film Up and Jon watching the hockey game..these photos are from our walk earlier in the week in Brownstone. As the dirt pile and the accompanying sign indicate, even the very nicest Winston-Salem neighborhoods sometimes experience friction between neighbors...we'll need to check back to see if the city made good on its threat to tackle that dirt pile...I don't remember such a glorious sky on that walk, but Jon's photo is all the evidence we need!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Urban nature photography

Only a short walk was possible on Wednesday because of the return of the rain, so today's entries are from Sunday's walk on the part of the Muddy Creek Greenway that doesn't yet exist. We hopped under a bridge over Muddy Creek on on Phillips Bridge Road (possibly Phillips Bridge itself?). This access is adjacent to the Winston-Salem Little League complex (see Jon's faithful Honda in the foreground). We could hear the crowd watching a game as we walked on a muddy path through scrubby woods and open meadow. Jon had to play the role of mission nature photographer when Nate and I sighted a giant fuzzy black caterpillar (most likely a mature, "wandering" larvae of the giant leopard moth busy searching for a safe place to pupate). We turned around when we reached Route 421, but not before Jon photographed a view of this highway that relatively few in Winston-Salem will ever see.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Other people's neighborhoods...

There is a neighborhood in Winston-Salem with the following characteristics: the homes are all recently-built (and for the most part, surprisingly attractive) mansions; there is an extensive private greenway; and it is de rigueur to have a basketball goal on your driveway. The blog has walked through many neighborhoods in Winston-Salem, but retains its capacity to be surprised...Jon was particularly struck by the care one homeowner took to place the goal so that it could be viewed from the big picture window...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


On Monday evening the blog walked in the Brownstone neighborhood. Susan marveled at the open meadow, and Jon found the semi-public walking trail he remembered. He wanted to know if this trail connected to the Muddy Creek Greenway (see earlier post on Monday, May 11). The answer, supplied by a helpful father-daughter duo of cyclists is "not yet, but soon." A substantial creek separates the trail from the Greenway, but a bridge for walkers is scheduled to be built this summer. Jon took a photo of the site of the future bridge.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A butterfly incubator

On Saturday, the blog came across a field of milkweed by the side of the Bicentennial Greenway in Greensboro. Monarch butterfly caterpillars are extremely picky eaters - they eat only the leaves of milkweed plants. The leaves are toxic to vertebrates because they contain compounds called cardiac glycosides. The toxins consumed by caterpillars eventually end up in butterfly wings, which is why monarchs are avoided by most birds...to help birds make the connection, monarchs have evolved bright coloration...this patch of milkweed should provide plenty of monarchs to be admired by the citizens of Greensboro in the weeks and months to come.