Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
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Backwoods Home
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Like my brownhouse:
   Thai Mex in Nellysford
Tuesday, June 10 2008

setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York

This morning Gretchen and I loaded our dull-red Honda Civic LX 4-door with the last of our camping supplies in preparation for the long drive down to the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. We'd be stopping tonight south of Charlottesville, Virginia, about halfway, but even half the drive would take seven hours. On the way down, we listened mostly to a short novel in audio form by Ian McEwan entitled On Chesil Beach. The book bears lingering cringe-inducing witness to the fumbled happenings of a pair of uncommunicative virgins on their wedding night in 1962, with each few seconds of events triggering many paragraphs of tangential exposition. Coming from a lesser writer, it might easily have been a bore, but McEwan kept me interested and made our drive seem short.
We bought gas twice on our drive, the first time being at a Pilot Station on I-78 just before we left New Jersey for Pennsylvania. There it cost just less than four dollars per gallon and we burned all ten gallons of it up in less than 290 miles. When next we refueled, gas cost a little less at a Texaco station in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and those ten gallons would go on to last us 330 miles. Nothing was very different in the conditions and our driving styles between those two tanks of gas except for the gas itself. I suspect the Pilot gas had been watered down with some inexpensive adulterant, though I can't imagine what is cheaper than gasoline that can be added to it without completely destroying its value as a fuel. (Any ideas? Water wouldn't work; it doesn't mix with gasoline and would quickly sink to the bottom of both the gas station tank and the car's gas tank.)
On the east side of the Blue Ridge, Nelson County and that part of Albemarle County south of I-64 are home to a rugged, heavily forested countryside, one that somehow escaped the rampant development further north. With the exception of the occasional cluster of ranch houses and the odd McMansion unceremoniously dropped in a clearcut, it's a beautiful region to drive through. Off US 250, we caught State Route 151 south to State Route 6 and followed it, through its various incarnations, eastward to the White Pig, a bed and breakfast in rural Schuyler (only about twelve miles west of the infamous Big Fun). The White Pig is a pot bellied pig sanctuary and vegan bed and breakfast situated on rolling farmland surrounded by deep forest. We'd learned of its existence from one of my Charlottesville friends who lives nearby.
The White Pig is divided into two basic areas, one being the house of the owner/inn keeper, along with associated barns and outbuildings for the pigs, dogs, cats, and a pony. At some remove is the inn, a pink-painted late-Victorian house that had actually been assembled from a kit bought from Sears & Roebuck in the early 1900s. Like many such houses in the greater Schuyler area, this farm had once been involved in the mining of soapstone.
There was ample parking in the parking lot, but we were the only people staying tonight at the White Pig. An envelope containing a key had been taped on the door, so we checked ourselves in, partook of some sherry in the living room, and found our way upstairs to our room, which was actually more of a suite. It was a comfy house, full of blankets and cushions, heavily air-conditioned, and overrun with pig-related sculptural objects and wall art.
After some research in the orientation literature provided in the house and a call placed to the innkeeper, we set out for a restaurant that lay within a sweet spot of proximity and interest: a place called the Thai Mex Express in Nellysford (some fifteen miles to the southwest). As advertised, it proved to be a restaurant having both Thai and Mexican options on its menu. One suspects this reflects the globe-spanning ethnicities of a marriage that had been discouraged by two sets of in-laws. Inside, the decor slants heavily towards the Thai side of things, though in amongst the Buddhas is a solitary sombrero. We ordered two Thai dishes to share. Not surprisingly, neither was very good, but the tofu curry on rice was much better than the overly-greasy pad thai. It also packed the sort of pepper punch a gringo is strongly cautioned to avoid (we hadn't been). As we were finishing our meal, a nerdy middle-aged guy with an iBook came in and leafed through a menu as a pretext for using the restaurant's WiFi. Unfortunately for nerdy nerd, none of the employees could figure out what the passcode was.
Needing to walk the voids out of that not-entirely-satisfactory food, we strolled up and down the surrounding strip mall, past liquor stores and various small shops. Just beneath the eaves of the walkway near the IGA was a mud nest full of barn swallows, a bouquet of irridescent colors and sharp elbows. A few flew off as we passed, circling expertly amid artificial illumination and buzzing moths over the parking lot.
We followed behind a massive thunderstorm on the drive back to the bed and breakfast. It had churned up trees and had left a dusting of leaf-and-twig confetti in its wake. Bright flashes illuminated the landcape like moments of daylight, and thunder rumbled up from the road. Gretchen knows how scared I am of thunderstorms, so at the front gate of the White Pig, it was she who ho ventured out of the car to open it. I hadn't had a full night of sleep last night, so I buried my head beneath a pillow and went to sleep early.

The inn building at the White Pig Bed and Breakfast.

Gretchen on the path to a more decrepit barn.

Me today.

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