AV road trip

bspoffordOctober 27, 2006

Hi, all,

In mid-November, I am taking a small road trip with my niece. The ultimate destination is Cooperstown, Niagara Falls and Toronto. I want to visit some AV vendors along the way, and have put Rob's Violet Barn and Lyndon Lyon's greenhouses on my list.

I need some input about other AV sources along the way, and consider 100 miles either side of I-90 easily do-able.

Nothing on the AVSA vendor list jumped out at me.

I would also appreciate any tips on great restaurants, must see tourist attractions, super places to stay.

My starting place is Portland, Maine.

For those of you that always wanted to be a tour guide, here's your chance!

Thanking you in advance,

Barbara

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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

Would love to be on that trip with you.

In Toronto, Mississauga, actually is John Brownlie. You should call first to make sure he is available. He could probably recommend other places to visit to buy leaves and such.

You should have no trouble coming back from Toronto but if you visit Rob's and Lyon's first and have to show the plants, they may want to know why you are taking so many into Canada. They will believe it may be for resale. If I'm not mistaken, you can take 50 plants in "for your own use." More than that and you may have to do some talking.

Nancy

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 11:43AM
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bspofford

Thanks for the tip, Nancy. I had planned to do my AV shopping on the way home, since this will be a week long trip. And if I come home with more than 50 plants, I may have to do some talking anyway. I am so out of space. Aha, there is one more shelf unit out in the garage, in a box, just a little assembly time, in like Flynn.

I revisited the AVSA site after I posted this, and there are actually some great possibilities, one of them being John Brownlie as you mentioned. And not too far from Mississauga is Guelph's. I didn't realize these are so close to Toronto.

Ooooh, my heart is starting to pound already.

Barbara

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 12:45PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Gesneriad Garage with Bevin Anderson is in Guelph.

Irina

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 11:44PM
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lucyw_5(z5OH)

We recently went back to Niagara Falls, CA and things are very expensive.
You must see the falls and do the Maid of the Mist . Be sure to take a short stop in Niagra on the Lake, very English/Scottish in nature, unspoiled, a wonderful Inn there.
Lucy

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 7:42PM
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bspofford

Thank you Irina for the tip on Gesneriad Garage.

And Lucy, thanks for the input. I have been reading some reviews, and many complaints about the price of food and attactions on the Canada side. Do you know if the same holds true for the US side? I would guess so, that is frequently the way at a tourist hot spot.

As long as I have some dough left for AVs along the way home, I'll be a happy camper.

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 8:26PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Iv'e been to Rob's and Lyndon's and their both great. They both have many other types of plants. Leave your back seat empty and happy hunting.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 9:00PM
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bspofford

James,

Back seat nothing, I'm taking the VAN!

I figured some six inch high boxes with styro peanuts, plants can safely nestle in. I wonder how many that Sienna will hold..............LOL

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:20AM
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daver63

Hi Barbara this response won't be any help to you sorry.it reminds me when I used to got to Buells about 20 years ago(it hurts to say that ,20 years ago? wow!!!) when i was last involved with violets. It was a 2 1/2 hour trip each way.I'd be driving on the highway in my 4 cylinder hyndai.(thats' when they first came out and when i stepped on the gas it sound like whinning squirrels sounds came from my engine. i suspect thats what was under the hood of the early hyndais lol)while i was going 80 mph on the mass turnpike (just so i wouldn't get crushed) there'd be all these tractor trailers going about 90+ mphs passing all around me. It was a little unsettling to say the least.(that's why it was a once every 2 year trip!!!)When i got to the greenhouse the first thing i'd look for was fickle flirt and then wonderland ( a hardy,robust,easy and good grower which i needed because i was terrible with them!! )I loved that greenhouse and the old couple seemed like nice people.I was sad a few years back when i googled buells to see they were in bankruptcy. thanks for taking me back to memory lane.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 11:08AM
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bspofford

Thank you Dave for allowing us to join you down your memory lane. So sad about Buell's in bankruptcy. Believe me, I will do my part to ensure the financial solvency of the vendors I visit on my trip.

A little memory lane of my own....I have had 3 different VW Squarebacks. Love those cars! I use to be able to fill up the tank AND buy a pack of cigarettes and get change from a $5 bill. And if that isn't dating myself, nothing will. That too would be a good AV road trip car.

Barbara, waiting for the last leaf to fall....

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:01PM
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bspofford

It's the second day of rain, but I got all my tulips and daffs planted this glorious weekend in record weather, shorts and bare feet.

In anticipation of my trip (Thursday), I got the new shelf unit assembled, fluorescent fixtures hung, timer set and ready to plug in. Wow, 16 feet of shelf space...

YEEHAW!!

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 1:13PM
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daver63

uh oh how many plants does that give you room for?

Dave

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 2:01PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Barbara -

I planted 300 tulips on a previous weekend. Squirrels already started digging them out..

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 6:22PM
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daver63

no i mean violets. if i had all that room no telling how many i'd cram in there.I use natural light so my violets are in every window in the house.east,west north and south.hope you have a great and safe trip.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 10:35PM
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bspofford

Irina, please take some pictures next spring when your tulips come up, they'll be gorgeous.

Dave, I guess it depends on the size of the plant. I have a couple of Buckeye's that are 15" plus in diameter, a Music Box Dancer that is 14" across, so they fill up a 4 foot shelf in a hurry. Actually, I could probably take many of the plants that are on baker's racks and window sills and spread them out and fill up the whole thing. I try not to have my plants too cramped, barely touching if I can help it. I gave away about 20 plantlets today to a newbie to make some more room.

Thanks for your good thoughts.

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 10:56PM
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mccaba

Hi Barbara,

I only live about 45 mins from Niagara Falls (SE of Buffalo), but can't really give you many tips on traveling in the area. I'm glad you missed the big snowstorm in October!!! Are you crossing the border in Niagara Falls or at the Peace Bridge?

I'm just a newbie to AV's, so I can't wait to hear what you find here in the area.

Safe travels,
Britta

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:25PM
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bspofford

Ahhh, the reservoirs are all topped off, spent blossoms plucked, husband intructed, and tires rotated. I'm off tomorrow morning.

Britta, I plan to cross at the Peace Bridge, but if you know of a better place, I'd love to hear about it. I guess I would just as soon cross where it will be the quickest.

The violet itinerary includes John Brownlie at Aca's Violet-Tree, Fay Wagman, Rob's Violet Barn, and Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Yeehaw!

Barbara, doing the happy dance

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 8:52PM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Barbara, remember to take copious notes so us poor slobs who can't even dream of going where you're going, can get some vicarious enjoyment out of your trip.

Have fun and watch out for idiots on the road.

Wistfully waving bye-bye,

Korina

My theory of drivers: Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle automatically loses 10 IQ points. Not everyone can spare them.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:26PM
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bspofford

Ahhhh, home sweet home. What a great trip. Rainy weather until Tuesday, and it's been blue sky and starry nights ever since.

The Reader's Digest condensed version:

Niagara Falls, ON, absolutely a terrific place to take kids, lots of stuff to do with them. The Hampton Inn at the Falls was a good place to stay, comfy beds, quiet rooms, ok continental breakfast. Go for the suite if you can. Two bedrooms, worked out perfect for my niece and me.

The Falls: gorgeous. Not as high as Yosemite Falls, but wide, wide, wide. The Maid of the Mist shut down for the season the week before.

John Brownlie, Aca's Violet-tree. The timing wasn't right and we missed them on our way out of Toronto.

The Violet Barn: not as many varieties for sale as I expected, but what they had was really nice stuff. They do tons of mini's and semi's, and I admit to acquiring 9 plants there, 3 of them mini's.

Fay Wagman: I could go on for days about this amazing woman. She's cute, she's sweet, she has a LOT of violets, and a huge cat! She is getting ready to start repotting (she said it would take her til Feb.) and a lot of her plants were not in bloom. She does mostly mini's and semi's, and I was blessed with four of her plants, which she repotted and groomed right on the spot. I was in awe to watch her take a plant out of its pot, literally rip it in two (I thought, but she can just tell where the perfect plant is hidden in there) and repot it. Wham, bam, done.
She has almost all of the Rob's violets in her collection. It was fun to see the surroundings of someone that has been growing violets for over 20 years. On the tour of her home, we started in the room where it all began, basement, maybe 12x12, and then it spilled over into a larger room, and then into another part where the growing of violets was serious business! Light stands, shelves of supplies, a work station, fans going to move the air, it was heaven! And to watch her work was incredible. (Yes, I think she walked on water, but I'm not positive....) And there were violets and other plants every where throughout the home. If I am ever within 100 miles of her, I will definitely go see her again. Gracious, charming, and soooo knowledgeble. A true inspiration to me.

Lyndon Lyon's Greenhouses: walking through the door can be a cause for CPR. Loooong tables bearing many treasures, just like the picture on the website, except that stock is down some this time of year, and not as many in bloom. However, there was usually at least one of each type in bloom so you could see what the blossom looked like. Not so many rules as Violet Barn, basically if you could see it it was for sale. I was glad I had looked at the online catalogs and had written down the plants I was interested in buying. They had a wonderful selection of standards, and lots of minis and semis too.

In all, I brought home 47 plants, with about 10 of them being minis or semis. Three shelves are full.

I now realize why so many of you like the minis and semis. Dang, they're so cute. And the space they don't take up......

And I'm still doing the happy dance.......

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I wish all of you had been with me.

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 6:52PM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Barbara, thanks for the thought, but if we'd all been with you, there'd've been no room left for plants! Well, beyond what we could carry on our laps, anyway, and that would've been not nearly enough.

I'm salivating at your descriptions! But what's with this measly 47 plants? I thought you took the van so you could come back with *hundreds*!! Girl, you just weren't trying hard enough! Be that as it may, what did you get? Enquiring minds want to know.

Just a *tiny* bit envious,

Korina

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 9:22PM
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daver63

Hi Barbara I was just about to post and ask how your trip was. I'm glad it was fun and safe.Yes, please tell us which violets you bought. We have to live vicariously through you.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 8:29AM
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bspofford

If you had all been with me, one could have ridden in the Aunt Edna box, and then we could have put shelves all along the ..........well, we could have SHIPPED them home.

Okay, here is the new baby list:

From LLG - Taffeta Petticoats, Caribbean Blue, Pink Pearls, Pink Summit, Phapsody in White, Pink Duchess (2), Plum Pudding, Banana Split, Starry Night Blue, Sunset Ridge, Simply Smashing, Red Summit, Party Dress, Arctic Frost, Shootong Stars, Sky Diver, Champagne Taste, King's Ransom, Miss Lily, Faded Denim, Pearl Lake, Raphael, Allison's Laughter, Sapphire Ice, Christmas Glitter, Cool Lady, Pink Cadillac, Precious Rose, Gentle May (Russian), Vintage Wine, Moonlit Snow, Mulberry Jazz, Night Fever, Snow Jewel (maybe chimera), and Mountain Blush.

From Violet Barn: Rob's Ooey Gooey, Rob's Squeeze Toy, Rob's Heat Wave, Ma's Pretty Pink, Ma's Neon Lights, Ma's Wedding Day, Ma's Blueberry Taffy, Aca's Summer Parfait, Apache Midnight.

From Fay: Orchards Wonder Twin, Persian Dew, Optimara Little Aztec, and Zanzibar.

I would have loved to bring home three (just 3?) times as many, but I only have so much space. Besides, it's good to have a mission to plan and dream about. Next spring, I definitely plan to repeat the trip. We were at LLG when they opened at 8am, and home that night at 5. Add another day for a visit to Fay, and a two day trip is now a three. Perfect!

For those of you that are close to any of these sources, or any other sources, I envy you. LLG is the closest to me here in Maine for named violets.

Ah, the crazy stuff we do for our violets....

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 9:27AM
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hummersteve

Im excited for you and just knowing the plants you brought home were healthy and well cared for with plenty of TLC, certainly gives yu miles of peace of mind. For I may only dream of such a trip, but iM happy for those that can. Lucky you. When are we going to see pics of some you brought home?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 3:43PM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Ooh, yeah, pix, must have pix.

You got Rob's Ooey Gooey? And King's Ransom?? Dang!

I hope you've planted all those broken off leaves for spring trades...

Korina, more than a tiny bit envious

'I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.' ~Julius 'Groucho' Marx

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 2:20PM
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bspofford

I'll try and get some pix taken here soon. I have some other stuff that I should photograph also. 'Kris" is blooming her fool head off and huge, and a "Beachcomber" to die for.

Korina, I'm happy/sad to say there wasn't a single broken leaf in the bunch. I will be repotting these to wick watering in a couple of weeks, so I should put down leaves then. And yes, Ooey Gooey and King's Ransom found their way into the shopping cart....I had written down the names of the varieties I was very interested in seeing at Violet Barn and LLG. Fay doesn't post many pictures, so with her it was basically looking at a plant and its blossom, and saying "I want this." At Violet Barn, they were out of stock on some, but walking through the sales table you definitely see others in bloom that are just as appealing. The same with LLG, except they really weren't out of any stock on my list. One that really caught my eye at VB was Rob's Squeeze Toy. It's in a 2 inch pot, and variegated, mostly pink, a little cream and green, perfectly flat, and perfectly symmetrical, and about 2 inches across. Cute, cute, cute. I don't even know what the bloom looks like, don't care, the foliage is gorgeous. Just goes to show what absolutely perfect conditions will do. I saw the same variety at LLG in a larger pot, about 5 inches across, not as much pink and more cream in the leaves, and wouldn't have given it a second look.

So anyway, I am going to have tons of leaves in the spring for trade, probably some starts and plantlets. Guess I had better start working on my list. Actually, come to think of it, the list is done!!! Yayyy!

We draw names for Christmas in my family, and my niece is thrilled that she can get me a Home Depot gift card to use to buy more lights. Much better than perfume.....

Back to broken leaves, when I was at VB, Olive was sitting at a table taking leaves for starts, and had a wastebasket almost full of less than perfect leaves. I made some stupid comment about throwing them away in my car, and she pointed out that they were not identifiable at that point. I didn't pursue it, maybe I should have. On the other hand, what in the world would I do with a gazillion starts of noids? I shared this with Fay and she said I should have asked for them and Olive would have given them to me. I also watched Fay pitch all the outer leaves from the plants she repotted for me, hard to watch. I know, leaves from the middle are best, but after all......

And I have another project maybe. I posted a message on the Maine gardening forum to see if there was anyone in the area interested in AVs. One response in a week. One at the salon I go to. One husband of a friend. Maybe the four of us can brighten this long winter coming up.

Record heat for the day...58 degrees. Snow expected Saturday. Portland has its big flower show in February, and it has never failed to snow the day I go in the last 9 years.

Later,

Barbara

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 5:37PM
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erlyberd(Z5 CT)

Sounds like a good trip. Nothing beats a greenhouse in winter! I thought you were going to become the latest vender on the AVSA site!

Sad thing is I run NY state quite a bit but dragging a 48-53' trailer around does'nt make for great side trips!

I was enjoying that heat wave last week up in Bangor.

Memory lane...starts with a three cylinder Sprint here to Cannon Falls, MN and back. Top speed 80mph, 85mph downhill or drafting big trucks!

Here to CA 1975 Ford Elite, at 100 mph pulling a u-haul forced to to right lane, you guessed it, tractor trailer!

Barb, Any idea what the trip cost you? Did you only save on shipping or were the plants priced well?

Rick

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 12:07PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Barbara - good luck in taking care of your significantly increased collection!!!

Korina - I have a Beachcomber - and it is truly a gorgeous thing - but it is so LARGE, you can grow 20 minis in its space.

Cheers

Irina

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 2:17PM
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bspofford

Irina,isn't 'Beachcomber' gorgeous? It was one of my first named violets. Mine is only about 9 inches across so I guess I could only grow 10 mnis in its place. Funny, after getting some minis on the trip, I have had those exact same thoughts a number of times. One does really use up a lot of space with larger standards.

Rick-I really don't know what the trip cost. Part of it was spent in Canada, and they use monopoly money there, so I'll have to wait for the credit card bill. The primary intent was not a violet run. My niece and I try to take a trip every year. She comes from Seattle to Maine, or we meet somewhere. We had talked about Niagara a couple of years ago, and when she suggested it this year, I jumped at the opportunity. As far as prices, Fay is 4.00 per plant. VB is 4-5.00, I think minis and semis were 4 and standards were 5.00. LLG was 5.00 per plant, with a few being 6.00. The only thing I really kept track of was a total of 279.00 spent on violets. Sure, if I had mail ordered them and paid shipping, it would have been cheaper, but again there was a trip somewhere anyway. The nice thing about seeing the plant in real life is knowing exactly what the bloom looks like, and then deciding which plant you want. I tried to pick either the best flower, or the most symmetrical.

Next year maybe we'll head south to Bluebird Greenhouse country. Or at least pass it on the way to somewhere.

If I were to make a trip just for violets, it's definitely not cost effective by the time I figure my gas, and I'm too damned old to sleep in the van, and too lazy to drive all night. So it becomes not about saving money, but the experience of it all.

I gather Rick that you are a long distance truck driver. I can see that a trip to the greenhouse might be kind of difficult with the trailer. It's not the getting in, it's the getting out, isn't it? But if you figure out a way, it's fun to do.

Barbara

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:03PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Even if the trips not cost effective it's still worth it. Seeing those great shops, and the rest of the sightseeing, hotels and restruants are real fun. Plus you get to sing "on the road again" until voice gives out. Before i'm done a trip to Kartuz's in California will happen.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 11:33PM
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bspofford

I think the refrain of the day was something about shuffling off to Buffalo.....

Tell me about Kartuz's, please.

Barbara, good grief, why am I not in bed at this hour

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 1:34AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Barbara - my Beachcomber is 17 inches across after I took 2 rows of leaves off to keep it from being totaly top heavy. It is at work at the edge of the file cabinet under the very end of a shoplight. So it compensates by being huge for being underlighted. The lower leaves are more than 4"x 4". And it is so variable - sometimes it is pure white, sometimes it is almost blue - and the flowers 2.5-3", sometimes single stars, sometimes quite double.

I just came from a vacation in Mazatlan - and I am truly sure that yours was much much more interesting.

Irina - with envy.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 4:21PM
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bspofford

Irina - oh wow! Are you sure it isn't a cabbage??!LOL
Please take a photo with something we would be able to relate the size to, I'd love to see it.

Mazatlan, hmmm, real authentic Mexican food. I haven't had any decent Mexican food since I left California. Now that would be a great trip, violets and good mexican food. Sign me up!

James_ny, I googled Kartuz and looked at their website. Im--press--ive.

I think it's good to have dreams, especially with winter here.

Barbara, lusting for enchiladas

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 5:12PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Mike Kartuz moved to so.cal. from the east coast [Connecticut?] years ago and has created many hybred gesneriads. Your right it would be hard to get through life [especially in winter] without our dreams. Just stay away from Taco Bell for awhile.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 1:07AM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Actually it's a good idea to stay away from Taco Bell period. I've read Fast Food Nation, and seen the movie (delicate shudder).

Korina, contemplating enchiladas tonight at Pachanga (neener neener, nee-nerrr) ;-D

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 1:56PM
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bspofford

Oh, Korina, you lucky girl! There used to be a place called Jalisco's in Eureka, just down from the Red Lion Inn, I remember it as pretty good.

In Maine, Mexican food is anything with chili powder in it. The food writer for the local Portland paper called Mexican food 'exotic'.

Howver, the lobster can't be beat!

Barbara, going in search of food.......

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 2:10PM
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korina(9b, Sunset 17)

Jalisco Cafe is still pretty good, but Pachanga, in the old Taco Bell building, is even better.

The worst Chinese food I've ever had (and I'm counting canned) was in southern Oregon. I still have traumatic flashbacks.

Korina, suddenly hungry...

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 1:04PM
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