books

What Does Your Manhattan Look Like?

Back in 2009, native New Yorker Becky Cooper walked Manhattan from top to bottom. Along the way, she handed out blank maps of the borough, along with stamped envelopes bearing her address. Her request to recipients: Fill in the map with your experience of Manhattan. Tons of people obliged; weeks later, Cooper was inundated with personalized maps.

She’s compiled the best ones for her book,В Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, which comes out in April.В This weekend, the NY Times ran an awesome gallery of a few of the maps. It included entries from New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx (who themed her map around her lost gloves) and the head of the New York Public Library’s map division (whose map pointed out directions to key places in her life). The one below especially amused me—it’s funny how territorial New Yorkers can be, whether intentionally or unintentionally!
migration patterns
If you were given one of those blank maps, how would you have filled it out? (I think I would have highlighted 30 spots, each representing a significant place for each year or my life, numbered accordingly.)

(Image via NY Times)

Dancers Among Us

Yesterday, I stumbled across a post on Joycreation that made my day. It featured Dancers Among Us, a photography project and book by NYC photog Jordan Matter. He shoots dancers in street clothes in various locations around the country—but in every shot, they’re captured in the middle of a move, a jolting contrast to everything/everyone around them. Many dancers are soaring mid-air in Russian pas de chats, attitudes and jetes; you can’t help but feel a little exuberance and joy while looking at them!

I got sucked into looking at all the photos on the Dancers Among Us site, but was particularly impressed with the range of locations for the NYC shots. Some of my favorites:

luke mccollum, dancers among us

ft. tryon park, adrienne hayes

broadway

stone street

central park

lincoln center

(All photos via Dancers Among Us; found via Joycreation)

A Great Quote to Describe Traveling (and Life, in General)

Back in April, I posted about Obvious State, an Etsy shop, run by writer/illustrator Evan Robertson,В that sells gorgeous illustrations of classic literature quotations. It’s been a while since I’d visited the site, but the other day, My Modern Met ran a post showcasing several prints. This one stuck in my mind:

Original Illustration, Charles Dickens quotation

I thought that was such a great way to describe travel. I’ve definitely found that no matter how bad a situation I’ve been in, I’ve never looked back on a trip—or a place—and decided that it was just worthless. In fact, overall, I have nothing but positive memories about pretty much everywhere I’ve been. And so many of my trips were far from perfect: I’ve gotten seasick (or just sick, in general) in more places than I can count, feared for my safety on several occasions (like the time I thought we were being kidnapped in Costa Rica…or when we visited Nicaragua’s Corn Islands during a spate of violent attacks on tourists), nearly froze to death on a few occasions (in the Bolivian desert…and in freakishly cold weather in Hawaii!). And so on.

But it’s those stressful/annoying/uncomfortable situations that make the best stories once you’re back home. They’re often the ones that define a place for you. They’re also usually the ones where you can look back and laugh at how ridiculous you were—and how you’re so much smarter now. 😉 (And yes, I know, I’m lucky that nothing really bad has ever happened to me while traveling.)

Robertson, himself, was thinking of his own travels when he designed the print. Here’s how he describes it:

A traveler fades to black, leaving behind winding paths of cobblestones in the street. Inspired by one of my favorite places to visit and to leave and to revisit in Paris.

And, on a deeper level (cue the dramatic music), that Dickens quote applies to life, in general, as well. I’ve found that once you truly let something go and leave it behind, then you can start to forgive and move on. And that’s definitely something to remember!

(The quotation, by the way, is from the Dickens novel Little Dorrit. I hadn’t heard of it before!)

(Image via Obvious State)

The Pacific Crest Trail

One of the best books I read this year was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

wild

In this memoir/travelogue, Cheryl Strayed recounts the hardest years of her life: When she’s just 22, her mother suddenly dies from cancer. Shattered by her death, Strayed loses touch with her siblings, cheats on her husband, destroys her marriage and dabbles in drugs. Four years into her grief, Strayed decides to embark on 1,100-mile a solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from California to Washington—never mind that she’d never backpacked before. Her journey is full of mishaps and brushes with danger, as well as encounters with many kind strangers. Along the way, she finds the strength that eventually helps her put her life back together.

Perhaps it’s because I’m an east coaster, but I’d never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) before I read the book.В I’d known about the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, and even encountered it on my own hikes. But I didn’t know it had a west coast cousin that runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.

And now I—and surely millions of others who’ve read Wild—really want to hike the PCT, too.

But just part of it.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m bad-ass enough to quit my job and spend months hiking by myself. Strayed makes it clear that while the PCT was a rewarding adventure of a lifetime, it definitely wasn’t easy. She lost toenails, encountered wild animals and battled the fatigue, hunger and tedium that comes with walking 20+ miles a day.

But her descriptions of the trail are gorgeous. The PCT runes through six of North America’s seven ecozones. Strayed writes about sweating through the desert, sliding over icy patches in the mountains and walking among wildflowers in the woods. Almost all the hiking I’ve done has been on the east coast—amid gray mountains and pine trees—or up and down Central American volcanoes. The PCT sounded completely different and intriguing.

Photos, taken by hikers, on the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s websiteВ attest to how beautiful and varied the scenery is:

Southern Terminus: Pacific Crest trail head at US/Mexican Border Photo by Alan Beneventi

Southern Terminus: Pacific Crest trail head at US/Mexican Border. Photo by Alan Beneventi

Mojave Desert; Photo by Aaron Doss, www.pbase.com/aarondoss

Mojave Desert. Photo by Aaron Doss, pbase.com/aarondoss

Muir Pass; Photo by Aaron Doss, www.pbase.com/aarondoss

Muir Pass. Photo by Aaron Doss, pbase.com/aarondoss

Velma Lakes - Desolation Wilderness; Photo by Paul Zaretsky - www.paulzaretsky.com

Velma Lakes. Photo by Paul Zaretsky, paulzaretsky.com

View E, Mt. Shasta, Section Q, mile1609.5 - photo by Jim Payne.

Mt. Shasta. Photo by Jim Payne.

Diamond Lake Photo by Tyson Fisher - www.tysonfisher.com

Diamond Lake. Photo by Tyson Fisher, tysonfisher.com

along the PCT in central Oregon; photo by Ana Gipe

Central Oregon. Photo by Ana Gipe

Crater Lake, Photo by Eric Valentine

Crater Lake. Photo by Eric Valentine

Mt. Rainier from Goat Rocks Wilderness. Photo by David Geisinger

Mt. Rainier from Goat Rocks Wilderness. Photo by David Geisinger

Even more gorgeous photos here. Plus, see the winners of the 2012 Pacific Crest Trail Association’s photo contest.

Have you read Wild and become inspired to hike the PCT? Or have you already done it?

(All images via the PCTA)