November 23, 2011
I really don’t mind traveling atoll.
Home, pictured above.
I’ve just returned from the umpteenth of what seems like umpteen business trips in the past three months. I’m thrilled to be staying put in my house, surrounded by a big moat for a whopping two weeks in a row, before hurtling myself eastward once again. I’m curious to find out whether my brain will properly function at sea level rather than at 39,000 feet, an altitude at which I’ve been quite productive recently. I’m a Gold Medallion member of the Mile High Composing and Email Correspondence Club.
This past trip was unusual, in that after I returned home, it occurred to me that I’d just been on six islands in three days. That even outdoes the standard American tourist cruise ship “a different Caribbean island every day” jaunt. You know, the vacation that gives folks wearing way too much plaid and polyester a quick brush of delusion with what they’d like to believe the local culture is on a given island, from fleeting impressions gathered between the exact hours from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. By 5:30 p.m., Joe and Martha Tchotchke Collector better be back on the vessel, or it’ll sail away without them and their straw hats, refrigerator magnets and bottles of rum. I know this firsthand, from my amazingly cool gig this past January as composer-in-floatation on the Symphonic Voyages inaugural classical music cruise, which included five islands in five days and five opportunities for me to get so blissed out snorkeling or sailing or wandering around that I could have easily missed the boat. As it is, I already miss the boat, in the metaphorical sense, often enough. Doing so in front of 2500 people, a few of whom might have seen me emcee concerts with my music the evenings before, could have been more than just a little embarrassing. Phew.
So, my most recent itinerary included:
Manhattan Island (on which various meetings and friends were located)
Long Island (on which the borough of Brooklyn is located, in which the venue for my latest premiere, Spark was located)
Vashon Island (on which a chamber music series performing my Intermezzo was located)
Fidalgo Island (on which the town of Anacortes is located, which is where the ferry landing for the San Juans is located)
Orcas Island (on which some wonderful furniture I snagged for a song, and good friends with whom I lunched, are located)
San Juan Island (on which I am now located for fourteen days until my next temporary dislocation)
Ok, this is not a great photo but it’s the best I could do early Friday morning. Looking south, the notable body of water is the Hudson River, and since I was lucky to be on a plane that did not need to make an emergency landing on it (go, Sully!), thus leaving my hands free from juggling life preservers, I was able to snap this pic of my original island home, Manhattan, with Brooklyn in view on the other side of the East River, at the foot of Long Island.
Vashon Island is to the immediate south of Seattle, floating quietly and not making a sound on the Puget Sound, except for some of the sounds my music and that of Martinu, Mozart and Schumann made Friday night.
Here’s what I see, if I’m awake (I love sleeping in my car on this ferry), when we dock at Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island, which is the gateway to what we Islanders refer to as “America.”
I bet you can’t imagine why this mountain on the west side of Orcas Island is named, “Turtleback.”
This is a typical scene from the ferry to Orcas and other islands. That’s my car, in the very front– woot! Best view, ever! Waking up in the middle of bustling Manhattan and ending the afternoon here is, in a word, surreal. And in two words: friggin’ awesome.