Friday, July 30, 2010

My green home.

With the completion of this weekend, I will have been in Taiwan for one month. In that time, I have written a total of 0 entries on Taiwan, and taken only a few more photos than that. For some reason I'm no longer taking these 'little' transitions in stride; after five years of continent hopping I should be an expert, but I'm getting a little more reluctant with each hop. But at the end of it all, I am happy to be here, and excited about the possibilities our move to Taiwan presents. I hope to explore a bit more of Asia (especially East Asia and the South China Sea, this time), learn more about the food of Taiwan, and develop as an artist through exploring my new home.

This last task is especially important to me, and thankfully it's the one I'm most able to act on. While I haven't been doing much photography, I have been doing a lot of sketching and painting-- and the island has been a great source of inspiration. What fascinates me most at the moment is not Taiwan's fascinating culture, but rather, its greener side. For while Taiwan may be known for its advanced technology and plastics manufacturing, it is also an unbelievably lush island-- my sketchbooks are filled with bats and toads, bamboo and banana trees.

Anyway, I think I am finally getting settled-- mostly. So hopefully I'll be back on here a little more often, showing off my strange new island home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eating well in LA.

When the weather heats up in the summer, the kind of foods I start to crave become much simpler. Yogurt with homemade granola. Grilled meat. Fresh fruit. And LA is a great city for this. Because while it's always been a city that cared about its diet, its increasingly a city that loves its food; its a combination that means you can easily tailor your eating to be spare, fresh, and healthy, but still delicious.

Taco stands are probably the last place one would think of going for healthy eating, but a good taco can be a thing of beauty in its spareness. Grilled marinated meat, a fresh salsa of chile, onion and cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. A great meal for a smogy LA lunch.

Almost every neighborhood in LA seems to have its own Farmer's Market, one day of the week when stands set up selling overflowing baskets of fruit, vegetables and herbs. We visited a nearby market at Echo Park, where between buying peaches for a clafouti and heirloom tomatoes for a simple salad, we even ran into a few friends.

We picked up a mixed basket of berries which were u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e. They fat and sweet, perfect in the morning with just a little tart yogurt. The evening after the Farmer's Market, we attempted to muddle some in drinks, and despite our weak mixology skills, the drinks still shone thanks to the flavor of the berries.

Of course, when you would like to be eating badly, that's easy too. Near the intersection of Echo Park and Silverlake, we found a truck fresh churros, dusted with sugar. The were still hot, the golden exterior crunching to give way to a doughy interior. They certainly made all that healthy eating worth it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Los Angeles is Beauty.

Not for everyone, sure; but definitely for me.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Take a Roadtrip.

The 4th of July is so perfectly timed-- a celebration of America right when the country is looking its best. We've got blue skies, full green forests, warm weather, and open highways just waiting to be traversed. So why not celebrate the country by getting out and admiring it on a road trip?

We celebrated my homeland just a little early, on our way out of the country late last month. Taking off from Albuquerque, NM, we headed to Los Angeles via Utah. With the detour, we treated ourselves to unbelievable landscapes, some glimpses of offbeat rural towns, and some very restful nights in the great outdoors. And along the way, I put together a few tips for letting go and enjoying the road.

1. Stop to photograph any cool signs you see. Who knows when you'll be taking this route again, so it's always worth taking a moment to stop and memorialize it. I made Bordeaux pull over in Cuba, NM to snap up this one.

2. Splurge on one good bottle of alcohol. Just make sure to enjoy it at the campsite, not while you're driving. To me, campfires and quiet desert nights just seem to set the perfect atmosphere for relaxing with a stiff drink. For a touch of Alcoholic Americana, we picked up a bottle of Knob Creek bourbon-- which, interestingly enough, tastes just like vanilla coke when splashed with a can of Blue Sky Cola.

3. Stop for a slice of pie. Support local cafes, where you'll usually get much better meals than at the chain diners or drive-thrus. We had a fantastic plate of green chile huevos rancheros at Cafe Eklectica in Moab (despite the unfortunate name).

4. Check messages. Zipping through small towns, you rarely get much of a chance to gain an in-depth look into local social life. But paying attention to small details, like general store message boards, can give you an instant glimpse into the lives of locals.

5. Have a bad meal every now and then. While there is some very good food to be enjoyed across the country, some trashy diner food can be a fun indulgence every now and then. Bad burgers and bad mexican are especially tasty.

6. For that matter, take some bad photos. The West seems to have been sculpted for photography, with it's dramatic forms, intense contrasts in light and shadow, and rich natural colors. But taking pictures too carefully in effort to conjure Ansel Adams can leave you with a very tame album. So point the camera wildly, snap away, and maybe you'll get some fun surprises.

7. Make sure to stop somewhere spectacular. We have a pretty unbelievable country, and it's a shame how many of us don't make the effort of really seeking out its best angles. Being from the Southwest, I'm pretty spoiled with unbelievable landscapes-- The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, and the pictured above Canyonlands are all within half a days drive from my parents doorstep-- but I hadn't seen any of them until the last few years.

8. Try out some facial hair. Or a new hairstyle, or some odd new clothes. You're going to be spending your days either alone or with total strangers, so it's the perfect time to try a new look.

9. Treat yourself to a pool at least once. I'm a fan of quiet isolation of tent camping in gorgeous national parks, but a big bright swimming pool can be a different way of celebrating the US of A. We swung by Las Vegas, where in the heat of summer a hotel room at a decent spot can cost you less than 3 ten dollar bills. Just remember that the Las Vegas shock takes an hour or so by the pool to wear off.

So that's all I came up with! Anyone else have some tips? Or suggestions of where to go? Or what to toast on the camp fire?

In the meantime, Happy 4th of July and enjoy the country while I'm gone!