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Visiting North America

by t-------------- Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 06:32:53 PM EST

This is a private diary entry (stop if you are not interested in private diaries - although if you know a lot about North America your help would be appreciated), although it has a political background.

The political background is simple: Since half a dozen years I have become convinced that we are facing oil scarcity. This year I have the opportunity to return to the US (and Canada) based on my work. And considering that I believe that traveling (especially intercontinental) will become more expensive, I just accepted the temporary work related visits during this Summer in North America.

Here starts the private part...

I am going to Las Vegas (7 days), Toronto (3 days), New England (flexible: PA, to MA, all goes in between - 5 days), Missoula (MT) (15 days), California (SF and LA - 9 days). This is from mid July to mid August...

I would like, among other things, to meet new people (especially of the progressive kind).

In this light would you recommend any places to this "old left" social-democratic European who as a very soft spot for the US in his heart? I know of the places in the touristic guides, I was thinking in something recommended by people who know the local places (and with a liberal bias)...


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In the States, you may want to check out the Drinking Liberally network. For example there are two chapters in Las Vegas meeting regularly. I think it would be a good place for you to meet American progressives.
by Magnifico on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 06:44:41 PM EST
not really a 'liberal' thing, but if you're in NYC, and you've done the touristy stuff there in the past, try checking out some other neighborhoods. Just take a train out to, say, Washington Heights or Bed-Stuy, or wander around Harlem or whatever. Or check out some of the pretty gentrified brownstone areas in Brooklyn. Or jump out in the ultra Orthodox areas of Borough Park or South Williamsburg - it's like taking a time machine a century back.  Or one of Queens' ethnic mosaics like Jackson Heights or Flushing. Crime is way down, so everywhere is safe in the daytime, and its a nice way of seeing the 'normal' side of the city - not the glitzy parts, not the extreme bustle of Midtown, and not the tourist mobbed areas. The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side is also pretty nice, and its a fun area.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 09:32:41 PM EST
I second that.  I've never been to New York, aside from flying over it on my way out of Newark, but I'm always a lot more interested in seeing day-to-day life and related history in cities than in tourist attractions.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 07:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marek, is the Workman's Circle still meeting?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 01:08:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or jump out in the ultra Orthodox areas of Borough Park or South Williamsburg - it's like taking a time machine a century back.

With the figures from Israel showing that over 30% of (Jewish?) children entering primary school in 2012 will probably be going to Ultra-Orthodox schools, this may actually be like taking a time machine into the future...

The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side is also pretty nice, and its a fun area.

Though you should be advised that their management seems to be taking the reconstruction of the past a bit too literally, and the workers there have been engaged in a fight to form a union. I'm not sure of the current status; you can find some information from 3 months ago here.

Costumed performers and tour guides are fighting for unionization at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where they work to recreate the squalid living conditions of turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants, the very group that was integral to 20th century unionization efforts. Dozens of the tenement employees protested last night outside a fundraiser for the museum at Chelsea Piers.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 04:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't speak to most of these places, having never visited them.  The one exception, oddly enough, is Missoula, which is great.  I'm not sure what, exactly, one would do.  But it's a college town, so there's always something to do.  I'd be inclined to hit a bar or a coffee house and simply talk to the locals.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 07:41:58 AM EST
Just a comment to thank the suggestions made!
by t-------------- on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 11:29:57 AM EST
European Tribune - Visiting North America
I am going to Las Vegas (7 days), Toronto (3 days), New England (flexible: PA, to MA, all goes in between - 5 days), Missoula (MT) (15 days), California (SF and LA - 9 days). This is from mid July to mid August...
Las Vegas doesn't have enough for 7 days unless you want to see all of the shows, but it is really close to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. I'd spend most of the 7 days there if I could.

The drive from Las Vegas to LA (through Death Valley) is interesting. I personally find the desert environment imposing and fascinating. If you leave Las Vegas early to go to the Grand Canyon's South rim and then go from there to LA you can choose to drive on historic Route 66 from Flagstaff to Barstow. Stop at Amboy Crater and get lost in the lava field (but don't wander into the Air Force shooting range on the Southwest corner of it)! Skip Barstow and San Bernardino and take a detour via Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs (there are some large wind farms in the area that Crazy Horse can tell you about) and scenic route (is it 74? the one via Lake Elsinore).

9 Days in California, between LA and SF? Take the Pacific Coast Highway stopping along the way (for instance, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Herst Castle...). In Northern California I wouldn't miss Yosemite (well, I did miss it when I was in California myself, but I regret it).

That's, of course, unless you choose to fly between cities. Either way it's a lot of fossil fuel consumption.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 11:46:11 AM EST
Zion is also pretty nice, though not as mind boggling as the Grand Canyon. Bryce is simply surreal - a huge bowl chock full of these tall weirdly shaped pillars in fluorescent pink, orange, and purple.  If you do make it to the Grand Canyon's South Rim, hike down - you can go all the way and back in a long day. The North Rim offers an even nicer hike but you'd need to overnight twice in the canyon, and even if you had the time, it's probably too late to get camping permits. For desert landscapes, Monument Valley near the Grand Canyon is amazing - though if you've ever watched Westerns you've seen it. These of course are all 'touristy' things, but then there are good reasons why some places are such popular destinations.  The California coast from somewhat north of LA up is pretty breathtaking as well.

PS You lived in California for five years and missed out on Yosemite? Clearly you'll have to come back to the US to rectify that (I haven't been there either, but I've spent a total of two weeks in California, all in the Bay Area plus daytrips).

by MarekNYC on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 03:12:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I went to the Bay area a couple of times... I should have gone to Yosemite when I was in Berkeley for 3 weeks but I didn't have a driver's licence then. Later when Barbara did go with her cousins visiting from Australia I stayed at home babysitting (I was also busy being a TA: they went during the week in the middle of the term).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 03:19:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't have to make it all the way to Flagstaff and the main "south rim" site: you can do it from Supai
Havasupai Indian Reservation

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is in a large tributary canyon on the south side of the Colorado River. This land lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of the National Park Service and is administered by the Havasupai Indian Tribe. The village of Supai is accessible only by foot (an 8-mile hike) or horseback. Hiking is by tribal permit only. Inquiries should be directed to Havasupai Tourist Enterprises, P.O. Box 160, Supai, AZ 86435. (928) 448-2121 or (928) 448-2141 for the tourist office, (928) 448-2111 for lodging.



When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 03:22:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Las Vegas doesn't have enough for 7 days unless you want to see all of the shows

That's not true.  I'm told by a former resident that you could easily spend weeks appreciating the awesome amounts of water Las Vegans waste.

Death Valley certainly has an appeal.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 03:54:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you travel in the desert always maintain survival precautions:  Carry extra water (for you) and extra radiator fluid (for your car).  Be sure you car is well-maintained (oil, fluid, and the like).  Check out US Air Force survival recommendations for downed pilots--there is no better background to have in emergencies.  

Death Valley is like nothing on Earth, but it has its name for a reason.  Quite a few people have died there by being careless or foolish.  

Back-up your plans and you will be fine, and have a very special experience.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 05:41:36 PM EST


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