I’ve been on alot of trips that were planned by others this past few months.
In May and early June it was a week in Somerset, England with the Friendship Force (www.FriendshipForce.org) where our accomodating hosts treated us to breakfast, lunch and dinner with trips from Bath to Stonehenge and many in between. We didn’t have to do anything but unpack our suitcases, eat, dress, bathe and sleep. Everything was planned.
Except for my unreasonable request to my dear hostess, Pat Hollocombe, if we might visit a town called Todmorden.
Of course, I had no idea where Todmorden was, except I knew England was a smallish country. Todmorden is home to the Incredible Edible Project started by Mary Clear and four friends at the Bear Cafe overlooking the Victorian library with the clear mission to feed everyone in town eventually.
It was 7 1/2 hours by three trains to Todmorden, but my indominable hostess took me anyway, all the way to Yorkshire! It was a true God Trip. She had not even heard of it, nor the project, but she was a true trooper in the “Life is a God Trip” mold.
We arrived on the train platform and there were three barrels filled with forget me nots, an apple tree and broccoli. Not your normal train platform. Down in the carpark there was a huge raised bed with a sign that said, “Donkey manure working.” There was a sign with all the vegetables that would be planted there in a few weeks and how to cook them. For you see, in Todmorden, these vegetables and fruits are for the taking. It’s all a radical plan to save the world, one person at a time, planting on public land, cared for by volunteers, creating fellowship and becoming sustainable. Sometimes, all you need in life is someone who says “Yes,” to your unreasonable request.
Sometimes you just need a friend!
God tripping with someone who has never been on one before, is a true trip when that person has just gotten his driver’s license. Eusebio Pires wanted to drive. Why not? His gas mileage on his Toyota Corolla was alot better than my Crown Vic’s!
He was great! Just a few weeks into driving, he did U-turns in the middle of downtown Lynchburg like a pro. Two of them.
We finally found a place to park near the James River Heritage Trail, unpacked our lunch of spicy chicken, diced potatoes, curried goat, grapes and cherries courtesy of Mahabuba whose party we visited earlier in the day and watched kayakers paddle lazily down the river. If you had told me this God Trip would include delicious food from Bangladesh on a rock, I would never have believed you. But Eusebio is from Mumbai, and it fit.
God trips never cease to amaze me, as I had wanted to go hiking, but didn’t mention it to Eusebio when he said he had never been to Lynchburg. I wanted this to be his trip. What did we end up doing? Can you believe Lynchburg has a wildlife paradise downtown along the river, and then up a creek near a beautiful mansion called Point of Honor once owned by the personal physician to Patrick Henry? We crossed the creek with skyscrapers in view, turned right through a green tunnel of foliage to find the old railroad tunnel they told us about at the Visitor’s Center. (The video there is done in fast forward and is one of the funniest introductions to a town I have ever seen.)
Sure enough, on our way, skyscrapers just up the escarpment, a small deer came out of the greenery and looked at us as if to say, “What are YOU doing here?”
Kayakers on the James from Percival Island where we had lunch
I want to go back to this fascinating town and take another look. There is so much to see, and thanks Eusebio for the great hike!
God trips invariably include food. I mean the body needs its fuel, right? One of the best kept secrets in deliciously prepared Slow Food can be found at the University of Virginia International Students’ sponsored cooking classes. They are open to the public and free. But you will need to register (see link below).
Yesterday afternoon I gathered with about 25 international students at the Lorna Sundberg International Center with my friends, Eusebio, Ryan, and Mahabuba for India/Bangladesh spicy food, featuring something I have never eaten before: goat. They called it mutton, but it was goat, from the Afghan Market in Charlottesville. Tender, spicy, tingly to the tongue, with a flavor all its own! And what people you will meet — Kate from Boston who taught with World Teach in China, Jennifer who was in the Peace Corps in Morocco, Eusebio from Mumbai who could open his own restaurant when he isn’t searching for the cure for ovarian cancer. Mahabuba from Bangladesh even sang her country’s songs with two of her countrywomen as the dishes were placed on the big diningroom table for all of us to savor.
Check out their website: http://www.virginia.edu/iso/ic/for upcoming programs. Next is French food, I believe. They are also on Facebook, University of Virginia Lorna Sundberg International Center.
Lorna Sundberg International Center
God Tripping usually includes delicious food, and this is the best, prepared in front of you, and you get to eat it too, meeting some very special people. It is a spiritual experience putting your feet under the table at 21 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
We are in New York City!
And the smartest thing we did was get a hotel across from Penn Station, creatively named Hotel Pennsylvania. The porter who delightfully escorted Christine and me from Fast Train to faster 7th Avenue, jaywalked us with luggage on cart directly across the 5 lanes of mostly cab traffic and within 45 minutes of arriving in New York, we were in our room. Hungry.
Rule #1: When hotel concierge recommends local restaurant, he probably has a friend there. We walked into the Niles Restaurant, TV’s blaring in a bar and decided on this God trip, this wasn’t where we needed to be.
Basic Rule to God Trips: If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t His will. You see with God trips, you let whatever your concept of Higher Power is, guide you. My Higher Power is God, in Three Persons…yours is whoever spiritually guides you.
We moved on. “I want someplace intimate,” Christine said. And so we found it.
The restaurant’s name is Biricchino, a Northern Italian Slow Food restaurant at 260 West 29th Street and we were the only people there, but we weren’t the only people there when we left, two hours later.
To walk off the delicious slow food, we took the advice of Chelsea, our waitress
me and Christine on the High Line in NYC
to walk the High Line, a New York City park built on the tracks of the old “L” that runs from the Battery to Midtown. Tulips, green grass, trees, a view of the Hudson River at sunset. It doesn’t get much better than this.