Either/Or (Book Review)

book reviewsacademialiterature

Elif Batuman's 2017 novel The Idiot came out at a great time for me. I had just moved back to the city where I spent my university years from Turkey. I found myself missing the aura of intellectual curiosity that her novel presented perfectly.

In short, it's a bildungsroman about a Turkish-American freshman at Harvard who finds herself in a confusing friendship with an older, Hungarian student. It's also a love letter to language, in particular that of second language English speakers, and it brought me much joy.

(I'm not the only one it brought joy to -- apparently it was nominated for a Pulitzer!)

I was dimly aware that a sequel was on its way, but the universe set forth a plot to compel me to buy a copy. See, the weather in Seattle was so temperate and lovely for reading in the park in late June, and I happened to be in the park without a book, but suspiciously close to the Elliot Bay Book Company, which just happened to have an autographed copy of Either/Or on the shelf. Resistance was futile.

Deception Tulip!

✍️ 🕑 flowerstulipsState Parks • Places: RoozenGaarde Deception Pass

April happens to be the time of year when tulips bloom, and thus is the time of year in which the Skagit County Tulip Festival happens.

As the tourism board puts it, "The Mission of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is to coordinate and promote a countywide Spring celebration of the tulip bloom, in commemoration of the valley’s annual tulip harvest, and to be an advocate for Skagit Valley agriculture."

Essentially, it's a ploy to lure droves of people into small towns to visit local tulip growers and hopefully stimulate the local economy. Judging from the day's traffic, and the subsequent number of online dating profiles featuring people posing in front of beautifully arranged tulip beds, it is a pretty successful venture.

The three main tulip farms are RoozenGaarde, Tulip Town, and Garden Rosalyn.

We opted to visit RoozenGaarde, and to make it a longer trip by stopping at Deception Pass State Park, and enjoying a couple of beers and a boat ride on our way home.

Waimoku Falls & the Pipiwai Trail

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Maui 2021 • Tags: haleakala national parknational parksmauiwaterfallshana • Places: Waimoku Falls

This is another post about my visit to Maui in May/June of 2021. I have no idea when I actually wrote the words below, but I only just got around to pairing them with the images...

The beach located near the entrance of the lower section of Haleakala National Park
The beach located near the entrance of the lower section of Haleakala National Park

I have trouble understanding why the Coronavirus restrictions for Haleakala National Park should ever have included shorter hours of operation. If all park visitors can only come between 9-5, as opposed to any earlier, that means that there will be many more visitors all there at the same time.

This means that at one point on the ascent to Waimoku falls, your intrepid scribe, (a.k.a. someone who is well honed in the art of darting around slow people like an asshole) darted past family groups with children and couples filming themselves alike, and was astonished thereafter to find an actual, solid gap of solitude.

This also means that when our bull-headed hero with a wide-angle lens got to the end of the trail, he was effectively pinned between folks slowly lumbering over the downed trees, and folks frittering to and fro past the sign warning of life-threatening danger and a $100 fine that marks the end of the trail.

An acceptable, reasonable, responsible view of the falls in question.
An acceptable, reasonable, responsible view of the falls in question.

There are worse views to be stuck with.

My Little July Weekend at Olympic National Park (2019)

✍️ 🕑 July 12-15, 2019 Olympic National ParkNational ParksOlympic Peninsulabeachessunsetsclosed roadspnw forestmountainswaterfallsroadtripweekend jaunthostelsdeer • Places: Rainforest Hostel Ruby Beach Hall of Mosses / Hoh Rainforest Forks, WA Lake Crescent Marymere Falls Elwha River Washout Port Angeles, WA Hurricane Ridge

Between 2016 and 2019, I traveled to the west coast for work at least once a year, and on all but my first trip (for orientation, which I didn't arrange,) I did my best to sneak in a bit of work-adjacent travel time. Seattle could be a nice launch point for car-less journeys, with its rail connections to Vancouver and Portland and nearby ferry connections to a variety of islands.

But in July of 2019, I actually rented a car. This was rare for me, and was quite easily the longest stretch of solo driving I had done after literal years of barely any car operation.

I had a Kia Rio, and I had a destination: Olympic National Park.

Well, at least that's the plan I eventually decided on...