Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Beautiful Country

Just back in Beijing after a three-week visit to the U.S., I can't help but catalog the variety of places and things I've done. In fact, I've been telling people it could almost be a "Best of America" tour, if such a thing is possible, and if one could actually pick a best out of so many treasures.

Let's start with the locations: lake and seaside Maine; Hudson Valley and Catskills of upstate New York; Washington, DC; Denver and the Rockies; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Let's move on to the food: lobster and blueberry pancakes (hat tip Lori Bruno); sweet corn on the cob; risotto (Uncle Richie's finest); grilled peaches; Brooks barbecue in Oneonta; delicious latkes; Guapos guacamole; blueberry coffee cake (hat tip Carol Conlon); Maryland crab cakes; restaurant week meals at Jaleo (patatas brava and flan) and Siroc; Pete's clam pizza; Cafe Ole's sultan’s stew; Hudson valley cheese; macaroni and cheese and fried chicken at a wedding; pappardelle in Denver; spinach salad on the grounds of Denver's beautiful botanical gardens, scallops from the Outer Banks in Chapel Hill.

And the little ones: my cousin Maria's sweet Quinn and Declan; the Davis kiddos, all five darlings, all five perfect; Sufi, with his easy smiles and extroverted personality.

And the experiences: two bonfires (hat tip Tom Bruno and Josh O'Leary); one wedding (elegant and beautiful Tricia); swimming in one lake and one pool (hat tip Lori Bruno and Jennifer Taylor); one Rocky Mountain drive through a pelting hailstorm; one latke bake off; one afternoon of corn hole; jogs by the Hudson River, the Susquehanna river, the pine-scented hills of Chapel Hill; and to the Iwo Jima memorial in DC; a chance to toss a nickel on the grave of Buffalo Bill; a look inside the home of Thomas Cole; being in Washington on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington; putting a large decal tree on the wall of Daniel's apartment.

I've spent time on three college campuses: my own Oneonta, looking spiffy and landscaped; beautiful University of Denver, with its red rock buildings and curving sidewalks; and even more beautiful UNC, with its ancient trees and colonial brick buildings, southern charm at its best.

As always, I've been just overwhelmed with the generosity of friends and family who have picked me up from airports, put me up, fed me, and taken time to have a breakfast, coffee, lunch, drinks, or dinner with me.

I haven't had much time to write or study Chinese, and there's a new baby who just joined our Beijing "family," so I'm also looking forward to getting back to my life in China (and especially to wow Smudge with the 20 cans of cat food I've brought her. I'm sure she'll be grateful.), but this break has been everything a vacation should be: relaxing, fun, caloric, with plenty of time and laughs with people who mean so much to me.
Maine sunset
Lobsta time
Mom and Dan
Billy, Lori, Mike, Jane
Family on the dock.
All the Davis cuties.
Tricia was a beautiful bride.
Soaking up the sun in Denver.
Recovering from running in Chapel Hill.


  1. Hmmm..didnt get to see your smilin face...Trust you had a wonderful family time. Counting the days till u move back here, where you belong !! XO