Gardening, Road Walking, USA
Comments 14

A Blue House & Beyond

Okay, here’s where most days started and ended on my little eight-or-nine-day adventure in Upstate New York: Kate’s place in an outer suburb of Saratoga Springs.

A nice modest little place with a big sprawling backyard, a few oaks and maples and other trees I couldn’t recognise. A couple of clumps of echinacea still holding their own, lots of cool, damp grass, various perennials giving up and keeling over before the advancing Summer.


The Back Porch


Ample Parking


Path to a Distant Shed


Shed Detail

Funny how I’d come so far from the bumble bees and naturalised coneflowers so common in urban Korea to find them thriving in my gal’s back garden.


Kate’s place is small but her kitchen alone is larger than the entire living space in my Jangyu apartment. With her three girls, I think the best phrase to describe the vibe within the pale blue walls would be cheerfully chaotic. If the commotion got out of hand, there was always the upstairs space, generally a no-fly zone for smaller humanoids.

Moe and I, greatly outnumbered, could often be found there, exchanging shrugs and knowing glances as various thuds, screams and wails shook the lower level. “Got yer back if you got mine,” his wise eyes seemed to say.


It wasn’t always so rowdy, of course:


Camille, Lily & Ella, Casually Coordinated



I described the area as an outer suburb, but perhaps “semi-rural” would be more accurate. Last time I was here, Kate’s yard and the sidewalks and fields were all under snow. This time I fluked a patch of mild weather, low humidity and nights that were almost cool. Great weather for outings, and we managed an unfeasible number in my criminally short visit.

Leaving the scrappy streets and smothering heat of Jangyu behind was always going to be worth it, but it would be pretty damned hard to leave this when the time came:



I got to JFK on a Saturday morning; it was a long and tiring drive north for both of us on the ever-unchanging Interstate 87. I was lagged and half-deranged — the Joy of Flight, etc — but flying Hawaiian Air via Honolulu meant I’d already cleared customs and just strolled straight to the luggage carousel and — eventually (she’d parked approx four miles distant) — into a blonde tornado before being set loose upon an unsuspecting America.

Saratoga Springs is perfectly situated between the Catskills to the south and the Adirondacks to the north. That night we dined in another cute, woodsy little house, this one the abode of my friends/Kate’s relatives Dude & Trouble. Catching up with the relative newlyweds was terrific, even in my semi-vegetative state, and there was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a pizza I can’t stop thinking about (as any American knows, the best pizza in the country comes from New York!).

Sunday afternoon meant dinner at Kate’s family’s place, in a nearby and equally woodsy neighbourhood. Again, good company and food and the amber goodness flowed. Here’s Kate on the porch with her two brothers…


Dude, Kate & Ed

..and here’s Trouble and our friend Aaren (Nemo) and me and Kate’s nephew Ethan:

"Now, get ready, the timer's set & any min... Oh, crap."

“Now, get ready, the timer’s set to go any sec… Oh, crap.”

(Aaren has the farm with her husband Chris that I stayed at in January while stricken with a nasty case of Kate Fever. I’ll have a bunch of colourful shots of that place in a forthcoming post.)

Outside in the afternoon sun, kids and corn in abundance:


After dinner, most of us adjourned to the verdant sprawl of inviting lawn for a game of Full Contact Frisbee:


This Can Only End in Trouble

It was no place for the faint-hearted…


..but somehow I was able to get in, grab my shots and get out again with cranium intact…



A quick break for a double dose of adorable:


And then at some secret signal we were going walkabout. We crossed the road, some of us with breathtaking pizazz…


..and went on a walk around a really attractive neighbourhood of big trees, beautiful houses and thriving gardens and lawns.

The funny thing was, as we walked, kids came out of the houses we were passing, lots of kids, and joined the procession. A few adults too. It was like a freaking Steven Spielberg movie.


Kate, Trouble (with Passenger), Kate’s Sister Kristen

It really was a beautiful afternoon…


..and after a few blocks it seemed every kid in the neighbourhood had joined us:


Kate caught up with some people she hadn’t seen in years.



A Neighbourhood Reuinion


And that was my first couple of days in the States on this, my sixth visit to the country. It was such a relief to be there at last, and everything felt really natural. I really must go back sometime.

I’ll have some more strolling and eventually some real hiking on this “walking blog” coming up soon! For now, let’s finish with another shot of the venerable, bunny-hunting Moecifer. Kate has a house rule that all who visit must pay homage to his wondrousness — it used to be one of those unwritten rules, but nowadays it’s stapled to the front door.



~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. Darius Russell says

    Good stuff, Goat!

    —After all, YOU know what this (hate-to-admit-it-in-the-light-of-day-and-will-call-you-a-liar-to-your-face-if-you-ever-publicly-accuse-me-of-it) inner TMZ lov’in/National Enquirer glancing/Human Drama (OTHER People’s Love-lives) lov’in/guilty-pleasure reading/secretly tabloid read’in faithful reader of your TGTR blog really want:

    A full-blown account of you and Kate and your latest travails…seriously though, glad the Kate & Family visit out US way went well!!

    …NOW back to my own boring life! Publicly I admit to only reading this blog for the pics & info about the great hikes you take.

    Spynewz007 (currently on assignment in L.A./Anaheim)

    P.S. Had a killer couple ‘a days in Moab, Utah earlier this week hiking through Arches National Park. —A must-see for any Goat who Wrote!!

    • Hey Darius,

      Always a pleasure to hear from you, mate! In fact this time I first read your comment on my phone while taking a long-overdue hike — a real one, up the side of a mountain, rather than a prolonged stroll with the camera between rice paddies etc — yesterday. I’m the same as you in publicly dissing our celeb “culture” while secretly devouring news of their mishaps. In my defense, it’s only the bad stuff I want to read: give me nipple slips, DWI incidents, on-set star fits, anything to humanise the buggers! But I regret that I have little in the way of that kind of misbehaviour to offer from this latest adventure with Kate. It was all plain sailing, sadly.

      Moab sounds great! I once drove through southern Utah with an old girlfriend — this was 1993, my first visit to your country — and we were blown away by the orange rocks and cliffs and canyons we could see from the car. Roadrunner & Coyote country, great stuff. Reading Ed Abbey and watching numerous westerns only increased my desire to do some serious walking in that kind of terrain.

      My next post should have something approaching a real hike — or at least a real walk. And the serious hike, when I get to it, will make good reading/viewing…

  2. Photo #3 with the red wagon = perfect Americana.

    At least that’s the way I as a Croatian Australian imagine it.

    Norman Rockwell would be happy!

    • Yeah, I thought it might beit it IS a Radio Flyer, but I think it was something different. If I could have put a big old hound dog in the scene — even in the wagon — and thrown in a couple of cute kids, it would have been truly perfect. Alas, if things had worked out differently with “my” Korean dogs, I just might have been able to pull that off…

  3. As always, astounding pictures! Colored particularly vivid by recognizing and loving the faces in them.
    Your tale of the walk gave me the chills!

    • Thanks, Fidge! That little stroll was kinda magical, and that’s a word/mood I’m usually happy to leave in the capable hands of Messrs. Disney and Spielberg! Perhaps it was the beer — no, wait, I don’t think any of the kids had had that much beer…

  4. Hope you join up with Kate and family more often.

    Travel well but in the end, foreign places are just well, places. You must travel also with some personal heroes in mind in the right hand widgets.

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