Into the Smog

24 Aug

Yes, I’m back in the city of angels. While I’m not terribly excited about being back at USC after a relatively short summer, I did manage to do a lot over the break, and I think some structured schoolwork might actually do me some good now. Hopefully.

But before I talk about my return to LA, let me recap the last few weeks of summer, using the remainder of my photo albums as a guide:

Part VI

Following a handful of photos taken from the backroads on the Bridgewater hills, you’ll see my photos from the first half of Woodwind Ensemble’s third annual summer vacation trip. We began our journey with a day at our favourite beach, Hampton (yellow flag meant some decent waves to jump, although they weren’t as good as those during our first trip. Madeline begged for the kind of waves that kill kids, thus prompting a slew of alliterative titles such as kid killers, toddler topplers, baby beachers, and our favourite, fetus floggers).

We then drove up the coast into Maine, stopping at the Portland Head Light (pictured above) and continuing along the lovely Mid-Coast, through Damariscotta to my grandparents’ cottage on Biscay Pond in Bristol. The next day we headed further up the coast, stopping in lovely Camden and driving up Mount Battie for breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay. We continued downeast, ultimately stopping in Baa Haabaa (Bar Harbor).

Part VII

Lots of photos from Acadia National Park (particularly from the summit of Cadillac Mountain), and our return to the Mid-Coast. On our final day, we drove back down the coast, stopping at Pemaquid Point, Damariscotta, and Wiscasset, “the prettiest village in Maine” (for a delicious lunch consisting of mouth-watering lobstah pizzer and Maine blueberry soda).


A few more photos from Maine, including our stop at the Delorme Map Store in Yarmouth, home of the world’s largest globe (3 stories tall). The store was essentially paradise for me, full of mouth-watering maps, with French music playing as well. I felt like buying the whole place, but alas. Some more pictures from New Hampshire as well, including my exciting estival festival.

The remainder of the photos come from a daytrip with my dad through Vermont (in an attempt to set foot in all six New England states before I went back to LA? Possibly). You’ll see Quechee Gorge, the beautiful little town of Woodstock, the most photographed farm in North America (pictured above), and the awesome Bennington Battle Monument. You might also notice some hints of premature fall foliage – in August? Weird.

Part IX

Some more photos from Vermont, particularly along Route 7-A, but also from the little-known Mount Equinox Skyline Drive. The panoramic views are simply amazing. The last photo in the album, fittingly, is from New Hampshire.

I should have taken some photos from the plane window during my flight to the west coast, but it’s tough to get a good shot through a dirty little window at 30,000 feet. I’m always amazed by the transformation of the landscape as I fly over America, though. First, it’s the serenely green forests and hills of the East, with scattered farmed valleys, little mountain villages, and twisty roads that curve all over the place. As you go farther west, the land begins to get flatten and the forest is replaced by farmland. Over the Midwest, it’s vast, sweeping farms as far as the eye can see – a truly amazing feat of American settlers – and roads that form a grid aligned with the compass, creating a fascinating patchwork.

As the plane continues towards the southwest, the earth becomes noticeably drier and less green; soon, the massive farms on the remote edges of the plains give way to the forested foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and then the mighty beasts themselves, always capped with snow. The steep grooves and contours of the huge mountains of the West are an impressive work of art. Soon, the plane is flying over the desert, a truly fascinating and dynamic landscape. Vast stretches of sand yield to mighty sandstone mountains, made ragged by the wind; you also see incredible canyons, unfathomable natural sculptures, and yet more amazing mountains.

Finally, you get a glimpse of major human civilization – an incredibly vast urban sprawl that stretches from the mountains to the Pacific, all aligned in a perfect grid pattern over an area the size of Connecticut – the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Gigantic highways are clogged with millions of cars, and everything on the ground bears the look of smogginess.

Ok, so I’m not thrilled to be back in LA…I’m not entirely sure why I’m still here, but there’s no denying that California’s a fascinating place. I only hope to be able to escape LA more often this semester, however unlikely that might be…maybe I’ll just try to go to Santa Monica or Beverly Hills or Hollywood or something.

I’m trying to have an optimistic attitude towards this semester, however. Living in an apartment will take some getting used to (I bought way too much food at the supermarket today, and must’ve looked like a fool as I attempted to bag it all and put a gallon of milk as well as several other food items in my backpack, then carry it all back to my residence). But I think it will be nicer than living in a dorm, even if triples are pretty small. I just have to learn how to cook something.

One piece of good news is that I definitely got the job as a linguistics research assistant – although most of my work will just involve splitting sound files on a computer, I do get to have some input in the analysis stage… I’m just excited because the research (like all linguistics research) is intriguing, and it will be good experience. There was no real competition for the job, because apparently not many linguistics students even do this sort of thing. Lazy gits!

But yes, back at USC. It might be good for me to be back in the familiar American college system, even if it means less free time than I had in the UK. It’s also amazing to be at such a large school again – you know you go to a big school when you constantly see people who look like other people you know *at the same school* – although, I guess that’s pretty typical in Southern California (sorry, enough of my complaints).

I have a busy year ahead of me, but I’m also looking forward to a lot of little things. Like a little weekend back home in 7 weeks. 🙂


One Response to “Into the Smog”


  1. remarkable - 27 December 2007



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