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Last Post: Visitor Report: Two Different Worlds Visiting.
Last Commentator: Uncle Markie
Last Modified: August 28, 2014 @ 12:51 pm (GMT -7)
 
Thu
28
Aug '14

Visitor Report: Two Different Worlds Visiting.

Visitors from Ireland, visitors from Tokyo – it was a busy time at Uncle Markie’s Home For Wayward Tourists. The first to arrive were Jeff and Mindi – though Jeff only for drinks from 10PM-1AM with Mindi’s brother as she got sick on the flight from Dublin. Sorry, no pictures of the drunken festivities – though it did wreak havoc with y packing for the Denver trip which was in the middle of all these visits, and hence why Jeff came over late at night – because it was the only night that we’d be in town the same day, and he didn’t want a repeat of when I was in Ireland last month I was headed south to the wedding as he was cabbing in from the airport.

The day after I got back from Denver, Tokyo Dave showed up – at least I got pictures of that! Dinner Saturday night was at Swanda’s place. Here are MY pictures:

And here is Swanda’s picture of the event – clearly we know who is the better blogger:

That is TRULY a GREAT photograph of the two of us.

Sunday night’s dinner I did a little better when Mindi (ex-pat from Ireland), Anne (ex-workmate), and Tokyo Dave (ex-pat from Tokyo) joined me for a flank steak dinner:

Tokyo Dave was staying at my place, and after he’d decamped for the airport on Monday I found a t-shirt and underwear left behind, and then got a message that he was missing his work iPhone5 as well. Apparently enough sleep wasn’t part of anyone’s holiday plan – both Mindy and Anne arrived for dinner a wee bit hungover from the previous night. Ah, the life of travelers. I’ll have to try that sometime myself.

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Wed
27
Aug '14

Trip Report: Amtraking From Seattle To Denver Via Sacramento (Part Three)

Too bad I didn’t get the picture of the woman on the platform in Denver doing the ALS Ice Water Challenge – I did, however, donate my ice to the project. I had ice still in my bucket, and I’m in Denver, my destination – better to soak someone than being poured down the drain. Personally I like the picture from the movie Carrie that I posted on FaceBook with the comment “Ice Bucket Failure – Got Blood Instead”.

Because of a thunderstorm that rolled in at the same time as the train (coincidence?) our table was a little late as they moved patio people inside… but soon we were eating at the lovely Stoic & Genuine:

Drinks in hand, waiting for oysters….

Oysters killed, killing the tuna tartar….

Then the heirloom tomato salad – and in the background the watermelon salad.

After dinner we walked through the rehabbed station….

There is even a hotel in the station – the front desk looked good, but no idea the rates. That would be the Crawford Hotel.

It was a long night…luckily both Dan and Lisa aren’t working for my “big day” in Denver…Dan and I ran to HomoDepot (and didn’t give in to the hot dog guy there) to check out parts to fix my suitcase (again) and then off to shop for cheap liquor for me to drag home….but soon it was dinner time:

Chicken off the grill (that’s what is in the big bowl, lots of legs off the grill) while Dan dealt with issues on one of my web servers… and before you knew it, we were both beat…

When you are beat, you are beat.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Seattle. Thanks Lisa for running me to the airport!

Got my booze laden bag checked (2×1.75, 1x.75) and headed to the Admirals Club (American) which Alaska has privileges with. First priority is to start posting some blog reports… second thing is to get some food before my trip. Yes, there are cookies and snaky things, but unlike the Alaska Board Room, you have to pay for real food – I got the roast beef sandwich on a Pretzel Roll and I swapped out the chips for extra pickles ($9.95 plus tax) – I didn’t realize I was going to get a bucket of pickles:

Loved the horseradish sauce.

Got a post done and then it was onto the Alaska flight home…sigh, no upgrade., but new seats with power outlets. Not an open seat in the plane and in case you were interested, I was number seven on the upgrade list. Damn Friday afternoon flights.

I was in seat 6D – so these are in the back of the first class seats – the regular seat outlets look like this:

I love the fact that the outlets take ALL international plugs…and have USB, the true international standard.

And thank goodness for the Whiskey and Diet smuggled onto the plane…

It isn’t pretty, but it worked.

Had my free drink on the plane (MVPGold Status Benefit), read a little, napped a little and caught a cab home.

Too short a visit – but I needed that train ride (and the time with Dan and Lisa).

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Sun
24
Aug '14

Trip Report: Amtraking From Seattle To Denver Via Sacramento (Part Two)

Even with the delays we got into town a few minutes early – I would have preferred several hours late so I could have had the free breakfast on the train. Basically I have a 5 hour layover in Sacramento.

Not terribly impressed with the station – which is under serious renovation:

It took a 12-block walk to find breakfast – some of it pretty:

Some not – lots of vacant storefronts. Nothing to eat in the station, though there was a Starbucks at the end of the block (like everywhere). I ended up at Cafe Bernardo at 15th and R. The train station is at 4th and I. That sounds like more than 12 blocks. I had their version of the eggs benedict – sourdough toast, sliced ham, poached egg, hollandaise. Odd but OK.

The train, she is a comin’

And yet another train without ice – but my car attendant got be a bucket from the dining car. Nice man:

Off to The Mile City we go, with stops in Truckee:

And then on to this countries ugliest Amtrak station, Reno, Nevada. This is trackside where they just buried the platform two stories down in a pit:

Which is sad since the front of the station is nice (and there is even a “gentleman’s club” across the street):

Heading further east we got to see some “wild mustangs” grazing, and even a couple of Union Pacific’s Company Cars – the railcars that executives use for travel on their network:

I’ve travelled in private rail cars from San Diego to Los Angeles with LARail.com – seriously a fun way to travel. Must be time to party!

Creative uses for an empty ice bucket…and onto Winnemucca, Lossamucca, Drawamucca.

Then Elko, Nevada…

Train station or bus stop – you figure it out. Soon it was time for bed…

Up at 7AM for breakfast – handy to be 3 doors down from the dining car as I was back in bed by 8AM to sleep until 10:30 or so. Before I knew it I was in Grand Junction, Colorado where Dan’s mother lives:

Their station is under renovation as well. Generally Amtrak doesn’t cover any of the costs of station renovation. The railroads generally sell the stations to the city for $1 as they did with King Street Station in Seattle, and then the city picks up the bill for renovation and modernization with tourist dollars.

Then it was onto Glenwood Springs where we had a little time to get out and wander:

And then the train came to a stop, a long stop, for track repair work – upwards of two hours – at least the view was pretty:

Frasier, Winter Park…headed to the Moffat Tunnel:

And on the other side of the mountains we are greeted with this lovely rainbow – which even made me move from the comfort of my roomette to the lounge:

Or maybe it was the allure of a Colorado University (Boulder) student named Edmund (who was also back in the sleepers, though unfortunately not mine):

Time to pack up the circus since the next stop is Denver:

Out of whiskey I had to hit the lounge car – who were out of everything other than two Rums and a handful of Gin and Vodka – good thing Denver is a provisioning stop! I took the last two rums – not what I wanted, but with the train running behind I’d settle.

At this point we were running two and a half hours behind – threatening my 8:30PM reservation at Stoic & Genuine, a new fancy restaurant in Denver’s recently renovated Union Station. Because of the delay I snagged a 5PM reservation for dinner and had the Flat Iron Steak (again).

And finally we arrive into Denver, backing the train in:

They did a stunning job on the renovation of this train station. Dan was waiting for me on the platform with Lisa holding our table at the restaurant – only a little past our 8:30 reservation.

Stayed tuned for Part Three – Time With Friends

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Fri
22
Aug '14

Trip Report: Amtraking From Seattle To Denver Via Sacramento (Part One)

Dear Amtrak,

This is how to NOT start a relaxing three-day train trip from Seattle to Denver. While we boarded and left on time, that’s where the good news stops. My butt in my roomette until tomorrow morning at 6am is now my butt in my roomette to Portland, then I have to pack everything up – get on a stinky bus – ride to Eugene and then unpack everything again. I understand bridge work, but didn’t you know that when I booked my ticket only a couple of months ago? I would have travelled earlier in the month or later – I’m not that picky. There goes my after lunch nap. There goes hanging out in the Metropolitan Lounge in Portland reading the paper and uploading documents via their high-speed connection. By the time we hit Eugene, Oregon, that is the end of any cell phone coverage, which means no Wi-Fi in our next train which I hope will have a Parlour Car, not that is will do me much good at that point. Gone is my welcome tiny bottle of bubbles, gone is my amenity kit. Gone are the choice of apple, cranberry or orange juice in the sleepers – we are down to Orange which is too acidic for my throat. When the airlines tried this in 2008 in the downturn, they lost their business class customers – as a sleeping class passenger I’m paying a huge premium over coach. Get with the program and ignore penny-pinching Congressmen and bring back real service.

Let’s also add that due to mechanical issues this train which only goes to Portland, has no Parlour Car. No Parlour Car means no work because the Parlour Car is the only one with Wi-Fi, no Parlour Car means to Parlour Car
lunch menu which means being squeezed four to a booth the Dining Car. No Parlour Car means children running amuck (literally up and down the aisle of the sleeper car) when they could be in the lower level of the Parlour Car watching Toy Story 18. Where is the car attendant to counsel the parents about appropriate train behavior?

And can you explain why, after leaving on time, having to wait for 20 minutes north of Kent, Washington for a freight train? I can understand that when Amtrak is off schedule (i.e. running late) that we are at the mercy of freight, but we were on schedule.

It Portland the circus really began. NO instructions for what people were to do to board the couch to Eugene. At least the sleeping car passengers didn’t have to re-check-in again… but again, NO INSTRUCTIONS about where to go, what line to stand in, the works. The poor folks in coach didn’t even get their Seattle assigned seats back – they were doled out in order of where you were in line. All it would have taken was a conductor’s announcement after the Vancouver, Washington stop: “Sleeping Car passengers, please proceed to Gate 8 by baggage claim to get your bus transfer slip. Coach Passengers please line up at Gate 5 to get your bus transfer and new seat assignments”. Now WHY they had to get new seat assignments is beyond me (or my pay grade).

That confusion led to the last bus delaying the train by 40 minutes out of Eugene, which meant a “First-Come, First-Served” dinner process – at least they held off the calling Coach passengers until most of the Sleepers were served. I used to be in operations at Microsoft, whoever did the operations planning for this should get demerits.

The Seattle-Portland leg had ice available in all the sleepers for passengers personal drinks (and in my case for a plastic baggie for my cranky knee), when we got back on the train in Eugene, NO ICE in any of the four sleeping cars – I had to go begging in the Parlour Car which thankfully was operational on this leg. Finally I can get some work done…until, of course, 30 minutes out of Eugene we are in a dead zone for the next twelve hours.

I dropped all 15,000 of my Amtrak Rewards points for this one-zone roomette ticket (Award Code 104) – please make me happy and return a third of them, or offer me lots of dollars in future travel credits because this wasn’t the holiday I was promised.

Mark Souder
Amtrak Guest Rewards Number: XXXXXXX

That’s how the trip started.

The reading material for the trip? The Big Burn (and the Fire That Saved America), by Timothy Egan. Reading this on the train on the 104th anniversary of the forest fire that destroyed Wallace, Idaho and numerous other towns. 3.2 million acres of mostly public forest land were destroyed by the fire – and hundreds of lives and buildings. Truly a fascinating read even for someone who usually prefers fiction.

As usual you can click on the book and be directed to Amazon to purchase it – it’s just out in paperback, and it looks like you can borrow it f free.

From the letter above (which will have all the other “foibles” from this adventure before I send it off to the folks at Amtrak) you can see the “ugly” side of the trip, but there were good moments like the renovated King Street Station in Seattle – though I don’t look totally awake in the photo. Apparently when you have cocktail company show up at 10PM, wake up on the couch at 3AM not having packed, suddenly are you glad for a packing list:

Computer Bag

  • Tablet with Front Page and Streets and Trips
  • Power supplies
  • Mouse
  • Extra keyboard and stand?
  • Paperwork for train and flights
  • Plenty of ones for tipping on the train

     

Suitcase

  • White Port recipe book
  • Botanical Brandy mini
  • Extra book in addition to the Fire Book (which goes to the Colonels after I’m done with it)
  • Bag of computer widgets
  • 2 glasses for the train
  • Bourbon? Booze? For the train
  • Mixer for the train
  • Long pants for the train – green
  • Shorts for Colorado
  • 3 shirts
  • 3 socks
  • Matching shoes
  • Bathrobe
  • Speedo
  • Toiletries

     

Extra Bag

  • Box of booze for Dan and Lisa


Of course, there were a things missing… pen/paper and headphones in the computer bag, hat in the luggage – and I counted wrong so I was short a set of clothes. But still, not bad for 3AM with a cab coming at 8AM.

And the sleepy time photo of me:

Trainside:

And with the office set up (only to be broken down two hours later). I have tethering on my phone so the situation wasn’t nearly as “grim” as I presented it to Amtrak:

This Sleeper Car had something I hadn’t seen on other Sleepers – a counter where normally the ice, fruit bowl and huge trash can go – this car also had the advantage of the ice drawer under the coffee…something I wouldn’t see for the rest of the trip.

Welcome to Portland’s Union Station and the clusterfuck of moving an entire train onto buses and the traffic snarl on the freeway – hoping that we will be running late into Sacramento so I can get a free breakfast on the train. If it’s on time, I’d be twenty minutes early for the beginning of breakfast service.

Had lunch in the dining car (Bockwurst on a pretzel roll [diet out window] with pico de gallo relish, and chips that I didn’t eat) met a lovely young man at my table, Michael wearing a delightful t-shirt sporting “Drink Beer, Make Things”. He was amused that I was a home distiller and that my motto would have been “Drink Moonshine, Make Things, Don’t Use Power Tools.

During the transfer process I waited for Michael to load him down with water and fruit from the sleeping car since he was in coach.

We were the first coach to leave Portland, and the next to the last to arrive. How does this happen – though it’s not like they are leaving without us. At the Eugene, Oregon Amtrak station:

Before you know it, it’s time for the very unusual for Amtrak “First-Come, First Serve” dinner – normally by reservation, but I wanted the Braised Lamb Shank for dinner so I bolted for the dining car at the first announcement:

That would be a split of the Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon – at the shop we carry the Hahn Chardonnay. Not sure if it was worth the $15, but the Lamb called for a heavy red.

And typical Southern Oregon photo – trees through a rail car specially designed to haul cut timber:

I ran into Michael after dinner and invited him back to my Roomette to sample both my Oak-Aged Brandy and Lucky 13, which was aged for 13 months in New American Oak (as all Bourbons must be). Rules for Bourbon, in case you were interested.

The car attendant put the upper bed down, we continued drinking and chatting until past midnight when the booze ran out. And now, he didn’t stay, though I would have welcomed it.

Tomorrow morning at 6AM is Sacramento and the next leg – I just slept with the chair in recline mode – easier to get up and out in the morning.

[? ? ?] But can assume a couple of pound gain from “train food” three times a day.

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Tue
19
Aug '14

Advice Report: How To Be A Good Houseguest.

A quick post on some things I’ve learned over the years about being a good houseguest when you are visiting friends or strangers (in no particular order):

  • Travel lightly and don’t leave anything behind.
  • Just because airfare is cheap doesn’t mean that you should visit the same people every six weeks.
  • When using the shower – reset the controls to the same place you found them, i.e. if the water is coming out the tub fill when you got into the shower, make sure it’s there when you are done. And if there is a squeegee that means you should use it to wipe down the glass.
  • Bring a hostess gift. Wine is always a good choice. I know of a nice wine shop: Madrona Wine Merchants (sorry, that was a plug for my shop).
  • Speaking of alcohol, if you drink your host’s alcohol replace, is with equal or better quality.
  • Offer to shop and cook meals – it’s the least you can do since you are saving lots of dollars compared to a hotel.
  • Be mindful loading the dishwasher – many hosts are VERY particular about how things go in.
  • Inquire with your hosts if they’d like you to strip the bed or leave it at the end of your visit.
  • Don’t linger in the bathroom – get in, do your business, get out. This is especially true of places with only one bathroom. And leave the bathroom at least as clean as you found it.
  • Travel with a bathrobe – and use it.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome – think 3 or 4 days max.
  • If there is easy, convenient public transit from the train station or airport – use it. If it’s a quick overnight visit and your host is 45 minutes from the airport – just rent a car and save the three hours of travel time.
  • If you see a pile of shoes by the front door, add yours to them. It means that your host has a shoeless house.
  • Match your schedule to the host’s schedule – at least the getting out of bed part. And if you stay up later, quiet as a church mouse.

And some things you should pack for your convenience and so you don’t have to borrow from the hosts:

  • Pen and paper
  • Cloth shipping bag, which is good for a day bag around the city
  • Windbreaker that rolls up tight incase the weather changes

I’ve some of these lessons the hard way, others I’ve learned from bad houseguests of my own.

Any other rules you would like to contribute?

And I know, a blog post without a single picture….not even a selfie – miracles do happen.

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One Response to “Advice Report: How To Be A Good Houseguest.”

  1. Uncle Markie Says:

    And don’t forget to pack a hat if you are sensitive to the sun.

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Tue
12
Aug '14

Visitors Report: The Colonels Come To Town.

What a lovely couple of days with The Colonels in town on their epic journey from Kentucky to Alaska (and back):

BTIIMap

Now THAT is an epic trip. And as full disclaimer, I’ve raided their trip blog for some of the photos (and the map above).

I’d arranged for The Colonels to stay at the WorldMark Seattle at The Camlin for their three day stay:

The Camlin

The unit I got via the “waitlist” was a Courtyard Studio Plus – which means stairs to all the units. Luckily, they got a unit with only one set of stairs, AND had the bell-staff schlep all the bags and boxes into the room.

They arrived at 5PM from Eastern Washington, and I got stuck in traffic so I didn’t make it until 5:30. As the room was a little warm (no AC, but a fan), we had snacks and drinks in the courtyard. Had I thought about it I would have brought steaks and salad since there was a BBQ unit right across from their room.

gallery_12

We were at the table to the left (WorldMark photo).

After a couple of drinks – and a tour of the property (the museum in the basement and the Cloud Room on the top floor) we were off to Dragon Fish Asian Café which is walkable for all of us. Here is a picture from The Colonels blog:

P8080277

The Lady Colonel took this photo as they were passing in front of Dragon Fish Asian Café on their way to dinner on Friday (that story to come later). His blog comment had to do with the ladies in blue dresses dragging huge crosses down the street:

Now, I know I’m an old white guy, rather conservative, and from a small town, but there were lots of folks in Seattle that just left me shaking my head. We didn’t get to photograph many of them, but the following photograph of two women in long blue dresses, each woman carrying a cross, might give you a sense of what I’m speaking of.

Our dinner at Dragon Fish was wonderful – I’d worried that the menu might be a little adventurous for The Colonels, but it turns out they like everything we had and shared – and then back the next day for lunch – that’s a testament to the quality of the food (or the close proximity to The Camlin). Here is what we had (as best I can remember):

  • CHICKEN POTSTICKERS 7
    garlic, ginger, cabbage, sweet hot soy sauce
  • ASIAN CURRIED STEAK FRIES 3
    curry spice, ketchup
  • KOREAN BULGOGI SKIRT STEAK * 8
    pickled cucumbers, sesame seeds
  • GRILLED MISO RIBEYE * 11
    tempura onions, sweet miso sauce
  • WAWAII ROLL WITH TOASTED COCONUT 12
    smoked salmon, macadamia nuts, blueberry wasabi sauce
  • CHICKEN YAKISOBA (wheat noodles) 8
    vegetables, yakisoba sauce, sesame seeds, pickled ginger
  • LIME RICKEY SHRIMP ** 8
    quick fried. peanuts, hichimi, lemongrass vodka sauce

Hung out at The Camlin with The Colonels for a bit after dinner, and headed home for tomorrow we are doing The Museum of Flight, then a tour of Madrona Wine Merchants, then dinner at my place.

Here are a couple of photos from our adventure at The Museum of Flight. But first a stop at The Taco Truck:

WP_20140807_001

It was pronounced good – and a good thing I talked The Senior Colonel into only one burrito – those things are HUGE. Beef for The Senior Colonel, Spicy Pork for me (we both had burritos, a rare treat for me), and Lady Colonel has three tacos, one each beef, pork, and spicy pork.

WP_20140807_002

Not a bad selfie with the three of us. First stop was the new building that I haven’t seen which is on the “air park” side of the museum, over the new bridge over East Marginal Way that I haven’t been over. The new building houses the mock-up of a space shuttle that we got from Houston – alas, no retired shuttle, just the full-size mockup. This will give you an idea of size:

WP_20140807_003

And then to go crawl around some planes:

WP_20140807_004

In front of a retired 707-based Air Force One – think ancient technology. And The Colonels inside a retired Concorde – like one I flew on several years ago.

WP_20140807_005

The aisle is only 12″ wide, and seats more like 16″, and if you are over 6 feet tall you didn’t want a window seat since you’d have to bend your head for the entire flight. Here is photo from Pigletté Takes The Concorde for pictures from that trip:

piglette-1

piglette-1piglette-1That would be with the appetizer of caviar, smoked salmon and a lovely 1986 Pol Roger Cuvée Churchill Champagne.

piglette-2

piglette-1

Or doing Mach 2 (which is 1380 miles per hour) at 51,000 feet….while feasting on lobster rings with cucumbers accompanied by a 1994 Château Petit Village Pomerol. Damn tasty – don’t remember what the main course of wine was:

piglette-3

But enough of my old travels, let’s move back to the present – a final shot of The Senior Colonel in the grand hall of The Museum of Flight:

WP_20140807_009

All tuckered out we headed back to my house to hang out in the semi-air conditioning (the bedroom, with a fan to push it into the living room). We chatted while I worked on dinner, figuring that a 6PM start would be better for The Colonels. The menu was:

  • Fresh home-made bread
  • Salad
  • Rib-eye steaks off the grill

WP_20140807_010

The plan for The Colonels the next day was to visit The Living Computer Museum, partly funded and supplied by Paul Allen of Microsoft fame. But alas, trying to track down medical information kept them in their room until it was time for dinner with Swanda – and quite a spread it was:

Seafair Weekend 008

And the group shot with The Colonels camera, somehow minus The Caveman:

P8080281

It was a fun dinner with The Lady Colonel bonding with The Caveman, Swanda’s partner. I left before The Colonels did which might be a record.

The following morning The Colonels were on the road to Kamloops, British Columbia. Guess it’s time for me to plan another trip to Kentucky, but not until they get back home.

For The Colonels blog of this trip, you can visit: http://froghollowfollies.blogspot.com/ once they are back from their trip (it’s private for the moment).

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Sun
3
Aug '14

Trip Report: The Long Road Home.

Man 5:15am is early – especially since I’m always nervous out a hotel’s wake-up call. It came. And as I was almost out the door when the phone rang again… “your cab is here”… ten minutes early.

I had LOTS of time at the bus stand since the Airport Bus wasn’t due until 6:30. Here is an over the top house by the stop:

Just a few flower boxes/baskets/concrete farm animals.

Uneventful ride to the airport – lots of stops but they remained on time. My plan was to check in and head to the Star Alliance Lounge…plans that were thwarted by Lufthansa not opening their ticket desk until 3 hours before the flight. Seems they don’t have many flights in/out of Dublin. So yes, I went upstairs to the food court and had an Egg McMuffin with Sausage.

Once in the lounge – all was well – more food, drinks, newspapers, life is good (again).

Very tasteful the Dublin Star Alliance Lounge was actually a “contract lounge” for many airlines run by the Dublin Airport Authority. Pleasant enough.

12:30pm flight to Frankfurt….

…and a scant 50 minutes to make my connection, which for some reason I had to go through immigration, and catch a bus to the other side of the airport. When I booked this ticket I worried about it being enough time but thought I wouldn’t have to do any lines. I made it, but I was sweating – and one of the last half dozen people on the plane. Needless to say…no lounge time though.

Arrived Stockholm a little after 4PM and waited an eternity for luggage, and then immigration/customs, and then for the airport shuttle to my hotel, which is located on the Parking Lot shuttle route.

My hotel – The Jumbo Stay:

Yes, it’s a hotel (actually a hostel) in a converted 747-200. Of course, the elevator was “out of service” so I had to haul my bag up a couple of flights of stairs to check in… after taking off my shoes in the “mud room” since they are a shoeless hotel. I was booked into the Wheel House Room which is basically where the landing gear folds up into the belly of the plane.

The entrance to my room:

My monastic wheel well cell:

And where I set up the computer:

No shower… that’s upstairs on the main deck. Here are some other shots of the exterior, the “wing walk” patio, etc. And just FYI, just as Ireland was unseasonable warm, so is Stockholm.

They are working on four “engine rooms” which look like they would be a lot of fun. Next time I think I’d take a shared room upstairs. Not sure the single room with toilet and sink is worth the extra money.

And the lounge:

With the lounge menu VERY limited, I walked across the road to the Radison Blu Armanda for a Caesar Salad, which turned out to be a Chicken Caesar:

 

And it being Scandinavia, that is what a $40USD meal looks like – and the drink was half that bill for a “double”.

Breakfast is included in the private room price – typical European Breakfast:

I passed on the bread, cereal and other carbs. At 11 I’m headed to the airport for my 4pm flight…the airport is WAY outside the city of Stockholm, so I’m just going to sit in the lounge, read, blog, eat, drink, be merry.

The Star Alliance Lounge at the Stockholm Airport is run by SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) which means it’s way Scandinavian….

And they even had the fixings for a Rusty Nail:

I think a Rusty Nail in Sweden would cost about $40USD

Before I knew it was time to head to the plane – a special plane for me, on I haven’t ridden on, a 717-200. The 717-200 was a McDonald-Douglas airplane that Boeing inherited when their two companies merged, and wasn’t all that popular so it got killed off.

My exit row sit had plenty of room in exit row seat in the plane’s 2-3 seating.

Hello Amsterdam – and my connection to my Delta flight to Newark and my Alaska flight back to Seattle.

It was a free shuttle to my hotel – first a bus to their sister hotel, then a van ride to mine… the Bastion Schipol Airport/Hoopddorf (after the town that it’s in).

Clean and functional and cheap at 49EURO for the night. And the burger was fantastic, though I’m not sure why in addition to the fries it came with green beans with bacon…

And what hotel isn’t complete without snacks, water, pop, wine and beer in a vending machine…

Another morning of up and out early – off to the Star Alliance Lounge, this one run by KLM (part of Air France). Since Delta has lots of flights out of Amsterdam, the ticket counter was open and waiting for me.

Then it was the Priority Lane through immigration for another pretty stamp in my passport and off to the lounge.


Huge place with a huge bar…


My typical European breakfast with the addition of some scrambled eggs…


And my plane waiting for me. On the way to meet the plane, and go through security AGAIN because that’s what they do for flights coming into the US from Europe, I passed a coffee shop where you could have your coffee in a giant coffee cup:


Very odd and very Dutch.

Got through security and settled into my preferred seat on the 767, 1A:


On time out of the gate… and into the day’s entertainment. Two long flights up front. Glass of Champagne in hand (Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique).

Here are the movies from the Amsterdam to Newark flight… Charade with Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant and The Breakfast Club:


I’d seen both before, but I’d forgotten how “dark” Charade was and how “light” The Breakfast Club was.

And then there is the food…


That would be the Smoked Salmon and Grill Shrimp starter. The wine was the Selbach Incline Riesling to go with all the fish.


Followed by the Caprese Salad and the Thai Coconut Soup (the Selbach Incline Riesling, Woodford Reserve rocks, and Diet Coke.


And a repeat (though with herbed butter) of the Beef Tenderloin that I had on the way over (other choices Roast Chicken Breast, Five Cheese Ravioli or the Chilled Deli Plate). I had to try both of the red wines:


And I went for the Vanilla Ice Cream Sunday – with a Chambers Rosewood Muscadelle from Australia.


The mid-flight fresh baked cookie.


And it’s time to recline and watch movies…


While waiting for the Hot Chicken Parmesan Sandwich – with yet more Woodford Reserve rocks, and Diet Coke.

With the research for this post it seems that they aren’t spending a lot of money on their wines – that said, they are getting interesting stuff that one doesn’t normally find on the shelves other than specialty wine shops like Madrona Wine Merchants in Seattle. Shameless plug.

Before I knew it – I was in Newark (by plan, not accident). Immigration (a snap with Global Entry), waiting for bag, Customs… and yet another lounge – NOT. Alaska doesn’t have an agreement with American (one of their partners) to use their lounge in Newark since they changed Terminals a couple of months ago (reminds me of SFO). Terminal is overcrowded and the air-conditioning can’t keep up. Uncle Markie not happy – and tweets Alaska with his concerns, still no pass to the American Lounge. Damn.


We load, we taxi, we wait, we turn the engines off (so the crew doesn’t ding their “flight” hours), severe storm passing through, drinks (alcohol) served in First, Coach gets water and the chance to use the bathrooms, we wait…two hours plus. No Digi-Players while on the ground. Pilot announces we are headed back to the terminal to wait out the storm with the other 75 planes that are stuck… and minutes later the Captain on the PA saying “Flight Attendants Take Your Seats” – seems there is a break in the storm, we are close to tarmac limits (new Federal Rules) and since we are already rolling they clear us to take off – in front of the other 75 waiting. Whew!

Watched a movie (and some TV) on the flight – 2001 A Space Odyssey:

I’d forgotten how crappy 2001 ASO was. Useless ape opening sequence, bad special effects (but good for the day), weird plot lines, bad acting.

Honestly I’m so tired at this point that there are no pictures of the Alaska food in first, but here is the menu:

  • Appetizer Salad of butter poached shrimp with tropical salsa and warm roll with butter
  • Pork Tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce, broccoli and sweet potato mash (other option was the Beef Provencal with artichoke potato puree and fresh baby carrots)
  • Crème Brulée Cheesecake with mixed berry compote

No remembrance of wines. Or of drinking Jack and Diets for the rest of the trip, knowing I’d be getting in well after midnight.

Add a chatty seatmate at the end (with are both hammered at this point) talking up his business (greaterchina-usa.com) which I need to remember in case I need Chinese-based manufacturing, which it’s always good to have a local contact for.

Landed, got bag. Bag banged up badly (and this is only ONE of the cracks – did they run over it?):


Alaska Airlines solution to a bag that can’t be fixed…give me a new one of about that size. At baggage claim, in under 20 minutes:


Well, it’s pretty and it isn’t black (great for ragtops, bad for luggage as everyone else’s is black).

Home by cab – great driver, good tip. Had to wind down for another hour or two before bedtime. Luckily a day off before a Friday/Saturday/Sunday shift.

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Tue
29
Jul '14

Trip Report: An Irish Wedding.

Part three of my Irish Saga. The real reason for my trip to Ireland – the wedding of one Mark J. Pucci.

A lovely train ride from Dublin’s Connolly Station to the town of Bray in County Wicklow. Popped into a taxi for the ride to Enniskerry and the Summer Hill House Hotel where the wedding is scheduled. I’ve booked in for two nights.

You guessed it – swiped off their site, somehow I forgot to get a picture of the main building. I’m out back in the Courtyard Units:

Perfectly functional room, complete with balcony (but no chairs). Downside is that there are no Wi-Fi repeaters in this building so I have to go to the main building to get access – and even then, it’s not great Expect TripAdvisor review. But the view of the Irish countryside is nice….

The first night’s activities were drinks in Enniskerry at Mac’s Bar at the Powerscourt Arms followed by dinner next door at the The Relaxing & Classic Lounge. Here is “downtown” Enniskerry:

And me in Mac’s Bar hoisting my first Paddy’s Irish Whiskey of the evening:

And the fair-haired Groom making the “time for dinner” announcement:

And my dinner of Fish and Chips, oddly served with salad and mashed peas – we are in Ireland after all:

And a selfie with Jill and her mother, Norma (who also all had the Fish and Chips):

It was a late evening – stayed up drinking until two with one of the other US-based wedding guests – put a HUGE dent in the Paddy’s I’d brought for the occasion.

The wedding was the next afternoon – an outdoor wedding – which has only become legal in the last couple of weeks – you still have to “rent a room” to sign the documents in – guessing to protect all the hotels. Lovely weather, if a bit on the hot side. Charming ceremony which included multiple quotes by Rumi, very humanist.

Pictures of Mark and Aisling tying the knot:

And the food – choice of pork or salmon. I took the slightly overcooked pork…

One of Aisling’s pals made the cake (which was gluten free if I remember correctly):

Another long evening of drinking the Paddy’s on the rocks – and considering that I have a 5:15am wake-up call for a 5:40am cab ride to Bray to catch a 6:30am bus to the airport – I really should have stopped sooner.

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Sat
26
Jul '14

Trip Report: Dublin.

After arriving in Dublin – well, at least at Jeff and Mindi’s place though no Jeff (aka Mork) – made pleasantries and went to bed for a 5-hour nap, which by the way is exactly what you are not supposed to do to help with your jetlag….I have other tricks up my sleeve for that. Awake at 5 while Mindi is on her daily work call – time for a little Knob Creek and seltzer:

Yes, weird ice “cubes” more like ice stalactites. The gin is waiting for Mindi’s G&T after her call.

Mindi works at home so I’ll be able to see lots of her this trip – and more importantly (for continued invitations) be able to cook our meals in.

Since I’ve visited before I know where all the closest markets are and they have a “veg” delivery service all we really need is some protein and some wine. Got the protein for tonight and tomorrow around the corner at the Halal market (no pork!). But before that we need to restock the wine rack – and no, not with this which made me CRINGE:

The first evening’s meal was marinated chicken bits in a semi-spicy curry sauce with a bunch of the “one their last day” vegetables…

And the incomparable Mindi waiting for me in the dining nook:

An evening of drinking was enough to get me to sleep through the evening until 10ish the next morning – we were both running a little slow.

Today’s outing is a new hairdo for Mindi – her monthly appointment. While that’s going on I wander the streets, pick up supplies like booze and diet soda and stumble into a gay bar – the big purple thing – called The George. No time to really go in, and I can only imagine a gay bar at 2pm in the afternoon – though it would have given me a place to sit. As I learned from the website later, at 2pm they would have been just opening so it would have been me and the bartender most likely:

And a couple of doors down, another place I should have tried but didn’t. Pitt Bro’s BBQ which apparently uses American-built smokers. I seem to have read something in an advert (as the Brits say) about these folks – even before stumbling across them:

My motto is that if you see everything on your trip you have no excuse to come back. Guess I need to ask Mindi when she is getting her hair done again. That would make the afternoon:

After Mindi’s hair was finished – she had a little shopping to do…at the Celtic Whiskey Shop – and this is only ONE wall – the even had a hallway filled with small bottling’s in minis – too tempting.

Here is the one that Mindi picked up for Jeff’s birthday – only EU125 ($168 at today’s exchange)

The salesman had ME at Madeira Cask aged. One of 377 bottles made just for this shop.

Tonight’s dinner is a lemon pesto roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables:

While that is going I worked on a little ratatouille for tomorrow night’s dinner – to be tossed with greens in an oil and balsamic dressing:

Got to use those vegetables before they expire.

Can you see why I get invited back? Especially since after the meal it was pulling off all the remaining chicken to make chicken salad out of for tomorrow’s lunch – and stock for the freezer:

Well, stock for cooking and chicken vegetable base – just add noodles.

Another late evening of staying up way past midnight shooting the shit – didn’t get out of bed until noon today, so breakfast was definitely brunch but without the Bloody Maries or bubbles. More like cheesy scrambled eggs with oven re-roasted root vegetables:

Got an email mid-day from the Groom (Pucci) saying that Aisling was going to be out tonight on the traditional Irish “Hen’s Night” and that he was free….off to the Halal butcher go I as we’d just had another batch of “veg” delivered (even though I wasn’t through with last weeks). Tonight’s meal in honor of the groom is an American BBQ dinner with a Mediterranean Flare: Grilled lamb chops (yes, these ex-pat Dubliners have a charcoal Weber), served with a zucchini-based tzatzkiki sauce, and the ratatouille and garden greens with olive oil and balsamic. Didn’t get a pretty picture of it before, but here is the during:

And in the background you see a bottle of 1994 Mondovi Cabernet Sauvignon… that didn’t survive the move from the states too well – the cork was shot. I had to strain it through a paper towel. It really was about TEN years beyond its prime… luckily we had another bottle handy.

Oddly not corked, just no fruit left – it wasn’t their Reserve which might have still been drinkable. This one was slated to drink between 2002 and 2008… 6 year ago. It was well after midnight when we stuffed the groom into a cab, not exactly knowing the address he was headed for but he knew the area and the street. Luckily he DID make it home in one piece.

And just to get us off the food track for a minute or two – the house where I’m staying:

And the back yard with the Weber:

Before you know it – the last supper has arrived. Walked a little further afield today to get pork for dinner and supplies for the trip – tonight’s meal are pork cutlets in chili-garlic sauce, cucumbers in yogurt, and the standard salad we’ve come to love:

After dinner it was off to the neighbor’s – Paul and Mary who remembered me from my last visit… a VERY LATE NIGHT of chatting and playing with the dog – Paul didn’t get in from the airport until after midnight and Mini and I didn’t leave until around 3am – and then talked back at the house for another hour:

Even with the late night, I still had time for a final meal – Heavos Rancheros that I’d prepped the night before so the eggs could soak into the corn tortillas…

Too bad I’m leaving for the train station at the same time that Mork, I mean Jeff his headed home from the airport. Guess we’ll have to just have drinks when they are in Seattle in August.

Before I knew it I was on the train to Bray to catch a cab to the wedding venue – more on that in the next post.

See what I look like with not enough sleep. At least we all ate well in Dublin.

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Tue
22
Jul '14

Trip Report: Ireland Bound.

Well – it’s another early day – luckily my buddy Ray is in town to get me to the airport at a little after five for my three-hop to Dublin for Mark Pucci’s wedding:

  • Seattle-Portland (Coach)
  • Portland-Atlanta (Business)
  • Atlanta-Dublin (Business)

Left the house a little after 5am, and here is a selfie of what I look like at that hour (with an Alaska 737 with Disney livery in the background):

Looking a little “gruff” – but then again, the bar doesn’t open until 6am – time for a couple of bagels with cream cheese. I’m looking a little better in Portland, and another Red Baron (bubbles and cranberry):

And yes, that’s my plane, which I thought was a 737-400 because it didn’t have the winglets that the majority of Alaska’ fleet has. Turns out that it’s a 737-900 that is in the middle of renovations – the new Recaro seats in the back and no hard divider between First and Coach – apparently they haven’t gotten the curtains installed yet since the current divider seems to be blue painters tape. Classy. I wonder if it’s the same on as in this YouTube video? LINK

But my seat is comfortable (notice the lack of divider):

I tried reading my current book – but it’s more of a page-stoner than a page-burner. I picked it up several trips ago at Compass Books in the San Francisco Airport on their remainder stack. The book is Pornographia, by Polish author Witold Gombrowicz. This is a new translation direct from the Polish. The previous edition was translated from Polish to French and then from French to English. Not a good idea.

I should say, tried and failed – at least so far. I hate travelling with hardback book (even when skinny) and then not reading it. It reminds me of the six weeks touring Europe while at Evergreen trying to get through Lewis Ferdinand Celine’s Journey To The End Of The Night.

Instead it was the call of dinner and reruns:

That would be The Big Bang Theory and:

  • Farro Salad
  • Warm Dinner Roll
  • Blackened Chicken
  • Creamy Polenta
  • Creamed Spinach
  • Chuckanut Huckleberry Cheese Cake

And both of their red wines to sample. I’ll give the book until the end of the trip and then it’s getting left behind, read or unread.

Got to Atlanta with enough time to walk across the airport, do some duty-free shopping and head to the lounge for a couple of drinks. Between my United Gold and my Alaska Board Room membership I’m pretty much covered. It did amaze me that the Knob Creek (at 100 proof) was the same prices as the Jack Daniels (80 proof). In stores there is a big difference in price:

Nice international lounge in Atlanta:

Even opted for a quick shower:

And I needed it since it is another 6+ hour flight before I get to Dublin.

The plane boss, the plane (as Tattoo would say on Fantasy Island):

That would be a 767-300 and what the business-class seats look like:

My two movies for this leg (before I got into the reruns) were classics – which is what I’m seeming to revert to in my on plane movie watching:

Started with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and moved onto Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I’d forgotten how light-hearted Ferris was and the dark themes of Breakfast.

With a two-hour delay (mechanical) out of Atlanta I was almost done with Ferris (and pleading for more champagne) by the time we took off. It was with dinner that I watched Audrey:

  • Shrimp with avocado
  • Mixed greens with cranberries, pecans and feta cheese
  • Squash soup
  • Beef tenderloin (amazing tender that loin) with Béarnaise sauce, buttered asparagus, lobster macaroni and cheese
  • Some cheese and sweets for dessert

I passed on the ice cream sundae (second shelf) because before you knew it some more reruns and little naptime:

About 90 minutes before landing it was breakfast time:

  • Seasonal fresh fruit
  • Portobello mushroom omelet with asparagus, potato wedges and bacon

I was actually impressed with bacon since you know everything is reheated. So much for the diet.

There was a curious thing about the meal service…the silverware was magnetized and you could do amazing balancing tricks with the cutlery:

One of the things that I like about flying into Dublin is the “low key” entrance form you fill out:

They don’t even ask for your passport number. And it’s quick when you are on the ground, especially if you are in seat 1A and they are disembarking from the front door.

By 11:30 or so (should have been 9:30 or so) I was at Mindy and Jeff’s – sadly only Mindy as Jeff (aka Mork) was in the states for “management training”. The perils of becoming a General Manager for a tech company.

Chatted for a bit with Mindi before heading upstairs for a 5-hour nap, waking just in time to start working on that duty-free Knob Creek.

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1 Comment »

One Response to “Trip Report: Ireland Bound.”

  1. Conan Says:

    Looks like Ray in one of your food pics across the isle but I know it isn’t.

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Thu
17
Jul '14

Trip Report: Whistler With Roxy.

Roxy goes back to college at The Evergreen State College in the fall, and left both of his jobs at the beginning of the summer to have one last fling before academia. With that in mind I’ve booked us three nights in the WorldMark Whistler Creekside – a one-bedroom plus.

Roxy’s bedroom – albeit meant for children:

My bedroom was meant for the adults:

Not a bad view – and this was taken before they came and whacked down some of the closest trees for an even better view:

We got to the place about 3:30 after stops in Squamish at the liquor store for wine and cider, and Nesters for groceries. The room was ready and I think I’ve even had this room before since it’s on the third floor – but that’s the entrance floor. Room was at the end, close to the back door for convenient parking.

Since Roxy is a PescaTerian, it’s fish rather than fowl for dinner – halibut with salsa to be exact, along with a nice salad:

In the morning it is up and out – according to what I have read, the 7th Heaven Express lift has limited hours. A little breakfast and out the door with the first stop be Guest Services to pick up our lift tickets – if you book 5 days in advance, you get a discount (which pretty much pays for the tax) and a second day free –which is a huge discount. Basically it works out to $25 a day for unlimited mountain top rides, but only one time up the mountain. We were in line behind some nice German boys:

What I discovered over the two days on the mountain is that Whistler/Blackcomb is truly an international destination. German, Italian, French, Kiwi, Spanish, you name it.

Our first ride is up the Whistler Gondola:

That takes you to the Roundhouse Lodge where we caught the Peak-to-Peak to get to Blackcomb.

The Peak-to-Peak is the world’s longest gondola run at 1.88 miles. From there we caught the bus to the 7th Heaven Express. So weird to see people waiting in line half in and half out of ski gear – I prefer the half out:

The bus was crowded since the lift had only opened half an hour earlier. Figure half tourists, half ski/snowboard.

Here is a selfie with Roxy on the open-air lift:

A beautiful day to be in the mountains. And from the top, which is 7,494 feet….

And the ski-bowl, which is open until July 27th this year:

Complete with skiers doing aerial tricks:

After hanging around for a bit, it was time for a little snack:

That would be the ham and cheese melt on a big slab of multi-grain bread, a shot of cognac (which hits you like a ton of bricks at that altitude), and my “water bottle” filled with Whiskey and Diet which lasted me all day – got to keep hydrated. As for Roxy – just a can of cider, he’s not much of a mid-day eater.

We caught the bus back down and grabbed the Peak-to-Peak back to Whistler and set off for the summit via a .37 mile hike (elevation change 180 feet) and yet another open-air chair lift. Whistler Summit is 7,807 feet in elevation and needless to say has stunning view.

Just to give you a feel of the ride down – several people have commented….no way in hell!

We decided to take the Solar Express to Blackcomb Base Camp since it looks on the map like it will be closer to the Free Day Lot (Lot Number 4) where we parked. We saw a black bear on the way down, but I didn’t get a good picture of it. For this ride on the Peak-to-Peak, we waited for one of the two glass-bottom cars:

The downside of these cars is that you have to wait for them rather than immediately getting on one of the regular ones, there are not as comfortable (i.e. you can’t put your feet up), and most importantly they are stuffed with other people.

Back at the condo – it’s another fish night, this time was a slab of grilled salmon with grilled eggplant – did I mention the condo had a grill?

A quiet evening for the boys…a little whipped by the altitude.

Up the next day – not as early since we’ve already done the summit with the early closing time – today is all about hiking – yes, I used that word. Granted, we are only doing the “Green” trails, not the “Blue”, and god-forbid, the “Black” trails. But nonetheless, yes, I’m hiking. Here is the hiking trail map.

We did one hike on each of the mountains, coming up the Solar Express from Blackcomb Base Camp in the morning. The first hike was the Spearhead Walk, which was .74 miles long with an elevation change of 55 feet. Twice the trail passed over the downhill run from 7th Heaven:

Lots of great views of the valley between the two mountains on our little hike:

After our first hike of the day, it was back onto the Peak-to-Peak to hit the Alpine Walk on Whistler. This one is .96 miles long with an elevation change of 213 feet. More great views, just no great pictures.

With that hike done it as time for a late lunch at Christine’s back on Blackcomb – onto the Peak-to-Peak we go….Christine’s is the fancy sit-down restaurant and I thought we should treat ourselves. It’s also a great way to avoid parents with children. My expectation was OK food and that you are really paying for the view….but first… cocktails:

Manhattan for me, Blueberry Margarita for Roxy. As for lunch, Roxy had the hot ahi tuna sandwich with arugula and black truffle aioli and I went for the pound of steamed mussels:

We shared bits and both were EXCELLENT – one of the best meals that I’ve had in YEARS. The bill? $88 CAN not including tax for the two entrees and three drinks. Any yes, the view was STUNNING as well:

It was after 4 by the time we were done with lunch, and time to head back down the hill.

Today there were four black bears out foraging for huckleberries – and I got a nice little video of one of them:

On the way back, we stopped at the new grocery store (Creekside Market) in Creekside Village where the condo it. I hadn’t been to this one, it’s only been open since the Winter Olympics in 2010 where Creekside was at the bottom of the downhill run.

We found a great selection of sausages – salmon sausages for Roxy, lamb for me.

Well after dinner, Roxy found some playmates down the hill – and me, I had another drink and went to bed.

Off before 11 in the morning as I have to been Susan at the Costco in Burlington to pick up some more bindery equipment that she is getting rid of – that after an easing short line at Customs after our trip to Duty Free (2 liters of Dark Rum for Dark and Stormy’ s since I still have some of the Reeds Ginger Brew). Roxy still needs to apply for Nexus so that when we go to Cabo San Lucas in September that he has Global Entry.

Both of us got a ton of sun on this trip…. 5 hours with the top down on the way up, 5-7 hours each day on the mountain, another 5 on the way home.

It was nice to switch off driving on the way home. Speaking of home, got there at 4pm after dropping Roxy off at his place in the old brewery.

And my next house guest was patiently waiting for me – he’d arrived yesterday. Luckily I have a lock box with a key in it for such emergencies.

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Sat
12
Jul '14

Field Report: Pretty Lawn.

Thanks to Jonathan, I have a put together lawn for the first time in years.

And what is a post without a selfie….

Sunny and hot in Seattle and the top is down.

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Tue
1
Jul '14

Field Report: The South Park Bridge Opening.

The South Park bridge is open after a four year closure – and I can be happier. Not only is it open, it’s beautiful – incorporating pieces of the old bridge in the new design:

And part of the old railing are used as accents in the new railing. It was cool to be able to walk across the bridge in the middle of the road without getting hit by a car – maybe a horse or two:

And the ever present selfies…

With one of the floats…

And with the EPA/Boeing Superfund Site Remediation in the background with a close up of the site below:

For more information: CLICK HERE. Basically my house is across the Duwamish from the now torn down Boeing Plant Number 2, and no, I don’t eat the fish out of the river though there are lots of native fisherman on the river during the salmon runs.

The history of Plant Number Two can be found HERE. A brief history via WikiPedia says:

Boeing Plant 2 (also known as Air Force Plant 17) was a factory building which was built in 1936 by the Boeing Corporation in King County, Washington in the United States. By the time production ceased in the building, the plant had built half of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, the Boeing 307s, the Boeing 377s, some of the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, Boeing B-50 Superfortresses, B-47 Stratojets, B-52 Stratofortresses, and the initial Boeing 737s.

I copied this segment in case The Colonels (my occasional travel partners coming for a visit in August) wanted to look at pictures of old planes, since they are both Retired Lt. Colonels in the Air Force.

The bridge opening party was Sunday from 3-9PM complete with parade, food booths, small car show, fireworks, and it being South Park, Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling). As for traffic across the bridge, 6AM Monday morning, and here one of my first trips across the bridge…

They are still working on the final touches so it’s only two lanes… but it is oh so nice to have it back in action.

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Wed
25
Jun '14

Party Report: Two Upcoming.

Here Ye, Here Ye. Two parties a comin’

June 29th – The South Park Bridge Opens!

Party Time: 6-9PM (though Bridge Party starts at 3PM)

Well, technically it opens at 6AM on the 30th for traffic, but there is a party from 3-9PM on the 29th to celebrate four years to the month of not having one of the two bridges into the neighborhood.

Here is a little video of them testing the bridge:

I’ll be entertaining people with cocktails and snacks. RSVP to markso@gmail.com

July 27th – Come Celebrate Uncle Markie Reaching His Million Mile Status on United!

Party Time: 6-9PM

We’ll be serving the following:

  • 5 liter bottle of 2008 San FeliceIl Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva*
  • 5 pounds of Veal Scaloppini
  • Fava Bean Salad (perfect with a little Chianti)
  • Assorted Appetizers

I’ll be taking applications for my “Significant Other” Gold Status and everyone will leave with a little “Mileage Whore” gift.

* Wine Tasting Notes:Il Grigio releases lingering, complex fragrances redolent of sweet violets and wild red berry fruit. The palate displays a wine of appreciable body, nicely lean-edged, and with a crisp acidity. Succulent tannins complement a delicate fruitiness enriched by just a hint of toasty oak. 100% Sangiovese.

Here is the animated GIF of the invitation (15 seconds per panel):

Animated-Party-Invitation

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Sat
21
Jun '14

Trip Report: The Coast Starlight From Los Angeles To Seattle.

The third and final train trip in this month’s rail adventures – The Coast Starlight.

Arrived 15-20 minutes late on The Southwest Chief – unshowered and unshaved but at least my teeth were brushed. First stop…wait for it….The Metropolitan Lounge on the second floor of Los Angeles’ Union Station.

This lounge has only been open since December of 2013 when I was through on my way back from Santa Fe – when it still smelled new. It’s sort of hard to find…to the right of ticket counter and left of the Hertz desk, then up an elevator and then to the left. Signage is a little lacking.

Plain from the outside:

Snazzy on the inside:

Juice, soda, coffee, espresso, sweet rolls, and a conference room with this really great photo of the previous era Coast Starlight:

Craig and I track side for one of the best “Platform Memories” yet – well, the photo is the best quality – and I should be as he’s a professional photographer.

We got to hang out for twenty minutes or so – and I got to give him a tour of the sleeper car. He wants and invitation the next time I want company on a train trip.

First order of business – even before the train left the station was a shower. I really should have done it on the Southwest Chief, but live and learn:

It much easier to shower when you aren’t bouncing off the wall of a moving train.

Greek Salad for lunch in the Parlour Car (this one from 1956) which alternative dining option to the Dining Car. Much more limited menu, but you generally don’t have sit with other people though not in my case as there was another single dinner – so much for my plans for reading USAToday while I ate.

Spent the afternoon working on the Southwest Chief post, jotted down a couple of ideas for future posts on weeks I’m not travelling. So much for getting anymore of the book I started on the airplane completed. The book (Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness) is the required reading for all incoming Evergreen Students for the fall semester. Yesterday I took one of those silly FaceBook quizzes on what your spirit animal is…and I got crow. Go figure.

I took dinner in the Parlour Car as well, with the same single gentleman as at lunch – and with each interaction it’s feeling odder and odder. It doesn’t help that his roomette is right across the hall from mine.

The main reason for the Parlour Car again for my meal was the Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank – which I’ve had before, and liked enough to track down the recipe which I posted in a previous entry. LINK.

The lighting is a little funky, but you get the idea. Luckily my “less than ideal” dining companion gets off at Sacramento around midnight.

After dinner I got text from Lunetta – apologizing that they wouldn’t make it to the platform (which I hadn’t expected they would) –his plane ran late, and he and Onyx were still at dinner. Nice of them t text – guess they enjoyed the last “Platform Moments”.

My last FaceBook post before I got out of range was “Bedtime For This Bonzo”.

After the weirdness of lunch and dinner I opted to have coffee and breakfast delivered to my room at 8am. How civilized. Mostly they provide this service for mobility limited people (like my mother who always gets the handicapped room downstairs) but anyone can request the service – though the last morning on the Southwest Chief you’d probably have to tip the room attendant in advance. But here was my breakfast:

Scrambled eggs, pork sausage patties, home fries (which I mostly didn’t eat – and I requested to biscuit/croissant either).

And for Swanda a “footie”…

For the rest of you a slightly maniacal “selfie”…

Had the burger (again) for lunch, again using Newman’s Own Two Thousand Island dressing as the “secret sauce”. Damn tasty, sorry, no photo – it disappeared too quickly.

At Eugene I texted the boys (Travis and Leo) saying the train was on time and that I was in Eugene:

Got a quick response back from Travis saying it was doubtful he was going to be able to make it after all. Sigh. Such a photogenic guy. And then Leo was stuck at the post office – a total bust for “Platform Memories” other than..

We were thirty minutes early into Portland, which means probably 30 minutes early into Seattle – meaning a compressed dinner schedule. I was surprised when I got a 6:20 reservation…the last seating.

I finally remembered to take a picture of their “Signature Cooked To Order Steak”:

Shared the table with a lovely couple from Stockholm who were headed to Seattle to catch the Norwegian Cruise Line boat to Alaska – thereby achieving their goal to see all 50 of the United States. How many citizens of the US can claim that. I can, but I’m definitely in the minority.

Caught a cab back from the train station and dropped off my Junior Conductor hat with Casey, one of the Evergreen Grad neighbors that moved in a couple of months ago – I think it looks better on him than me.

[217.6] Better than I was expecting – only a 3.8# weight gain after 5 days of 3-squares a day via Amtrak.

1 Comment »

One Response to “Trip Report: The Coast Starlight From Los Angeles To Seattle.”

  1. Chris Says:

    The food looks good, the lamb looked Yummy! I liked you in the hat it fit you well! Regards, Chris B

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Thu
19
Jun '14

Trip Report: The Southwest Chief From Chicago To Los Angeles.

Another Amtrak Lounge, another comfortable chair to nap in.

Compared to the New Orleans location, this place is HUGE:

The reception desk to the right, carry-on luggage check room to the right – I just kept my small computer bag handy:

And several rooms worth of seating….

And unlimited soda…

And our own exit directly (though not close) to the tracks:

Around 10 I headed out to explore – found a CVS Pharmacy that sells Evan Williams, took some neighborhood shots:

The last shot is of old waiting hall – the new ones are located under sky scrapper next door complete with “food court” that actually had good food (well, they had a McDonalds as well, but this was my 10am snack:

Yep, a Chicago Style Brat from this place:

And when I went back out to score additional Evan Williams in case I need to share, also picked up one of the best pulled pork sandwiches (extra slaw instead of the fries) that I’ve ever had. Loved the egg-bun:

From these folks:

The wonderfully empty Metropolitan Lounge wasn’t so empty when I returned. When you have this many trains going out around the same time in the afternoon…

You end up with a scene like this:

And the other two rooms looked like this as well – not an open seat in the house.

Luckily it was a 2:15pm load time for our 3pm train, The Southwest Chief – but that was pushed back because there were three delayed trains that needed to get out of the room ahead of us. Controlled chaos was what is was… on the upside, I got to see a gaggle of Boy Scouts headed to the Philmont Scout Camp in Cimmaron (NM) boarding the train:

Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts of America’s premier High Adventure™ base, challenges Scouts and Venturers with more than 214 square miles of rugged northern New Mexico wilderness. Backpacking treks, horseback cavalcades, and training and service programs offer young people many ways to experience this legendary country. Or so their website says – I understand that 2 weeks there is $1500 when you figure in transportation to get there. LINK TO FEES

To make matter more humorous, in Galesburg, IL another gaggle of Scouts got on in matching fluorescent t-shirts. And if you really want a chuckle – imagine the lounge car filled with testosterone laden teens mixed with a handful of Old Order Amish woman headed to San Diego. The basic jist of the Old Order Amish is according to Wikipedia: “The Old Order Amish is the concept many outsiders have when they think of ‘Amish’” right down to “rumsprina” a “rite of passage” for adolescents where often leave the community for a taste of the outside world before being baptized.

I would have gotten a picture but I didn’t want to be an ass.

The first meal on the train was dinner – hence the Pulled Pork sandwich at 1:30pm or so.

What’s for dinner you might ask – I had the steak again, to see the difference between routes. Tonight’s steak was much juicier that last nights, but I like the corn better than the green beans as the vegetable – presentation was hand-down better on the Southwest Chief.

The only goal remaining for tonight is to grab a couple of “Platform Memories” shots in both Kansas City (MO, not KS) and Lawrence (KS). First stop is Kansas City where Paul will be meeting me:

Though I would have like to get more of the train in there.

But onto Lawrence (KS) where I had to work with the conductor since only one car in coach was opening – and it was a QUICK two minute stop, enough for this shot of Byron, Phil and myself (right to left):

Turns out Conan was headed back from the movies and just saw the tail-lights of the Southwest Chief as they hit a crossing. Another 10 nights early and I could have waved.

Unfortunately I don’t think Flagstaff (AZ) is going to work out because Kyle work evenings. Hopefully I’ll get one or two from The Coast Starlight.

Just for the record, I’m in Car 0331 (second sleeper forward of the Dining Car) in Room(ette) 4 facing West and North. I’ve lucked out as this is one of the few Superliner II cars that still has a functioning ice drawer under the coffee urn:

Most of these have been abandoned after the health department raised hell for the scoop being in the drawer – use of the drawer now comes with rules from the car attendant – scoop must remain in paper bucket next to the coffee urn when not in use. The rest of the sleepers (including those on the City of New Orleans) that I’ve been on have had Styrofoam coolers to fetch your ice from.

And here is a little oddity that I noticed on the Southwest Chief schedules note:

So is “69″ a reference to Arizonans? I thought Arizona was so conservative that sex wasn’t allowed.

Decided on the top bunk with both mattresses – tight but comfy though the morning came too soon and I didn’t hear the breakfast hours last night, so a bit of a panic, and then because of all the Boy Scouts, a half an hour wait to get a table. Damn do-gooders.

Got talked into the Omelet – not bad. Asparagus, onions, tomatoes, cheese was the filling. Yes, on the Southwest Chief they have menus items listed.

Headed back to the room(ette) after breakfast and basically napped until noon when I went downstairs for a shower – which did wonders for my mood.

Lunch was the Angus Cheeseburger with Bacon, always a winner – though I skipped the Kettle Chips.

The afternoon found me not reading but draining my tablet battery playing this mind-sucking Tri Peaks Solitaire which I got hooked on with my phone – and man can the game suck the juice out of the phone (and the tablet). By Albuquerque I finally put it down, but I did take breaks in Lamy (and Albuquerque) to step off and get pictures – it’s so weird to be at these two stations and not have any friends or family.

In Lamy it would have been my sister-in-law Jen, but she is interviewing job candidates today and the bro-in-law and niece are out of town – and mom is a El Castillo in downtown Santa Fe, so that’s out. There is a great “Platform Memory” – and probably what started this project – of my parents and I at the Lamy Station a couple of years before my father died.

Here is a link to the post that photo was in: LINK

And here is the station today:

The stop after Lamy (which is the stop for Santa Fe (NM)) is Albuquerque (NM) where in the past I’ve hooked up the Jen’s (sis-in-law) friend Michele to shoot the shit on the 45-minute layover – but alas, she has a doctor’s appointment at the same time, so, yet again, another link to a previous post of my last meet-up: LINK

And here is the station today:

Guess this means that I’ll have to include a photo of the Flagstaff station where I was hoping to meet Kyle:

Speaking of Flagstaff, we were delayed an hour because of a medical emergency. What’s that phrase? “It’s all good until the ambulance shows up.” One three ladies travelling together to Las Vegas had a couple of strokes – but to get her off the train as she was on the “hefty” side, they had to get her conscious since they couldn’t get a backboard up the narrow coach car stairs. They say it shouldn’t make us too late as there is padding in the schedule between Riverside and Los Angeles.

A later dinner seating tonight, 7:45pm, it was that or like 5:45pm which would have left me hungry at nine – no more 7pm seats but the time they got to my sleeper. They actually have reservations going til 9pm which is definitely too late for me.

Dinner tonight? Yes, another steak – luckily they were out of desert by the time they got to our table. Luckily I had some chocolate left over from the Snack Basket on the flight to New Orleans.

And a humor shot — the Jim Croce song: “If I Could Save Time In A Bottle,” mine would be more like “If I Could Measure Time In A Bottle.”:

Early to bed since if I want breakfast I need to be in the Dining Car at 5am as they stop serving at 5:45am, or San Bernardino whichever is later…as it turns out we are still an hour behind so I wouldn’t have had to rush that much.

As we pulled into Fullerton I saw the Amish ladies transferring to the Pacific Surfliner:

Ended up getting in 25 minutes late – time to hook up with Craig, but first, the Metropolitan Lounge.

And I close with my post with my favorite picture of the day – Arizona in the afternoon:

To be continued…

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Tue
17
Jun '14

Trip Report: The City Of New Orleans.

What a fitting way to celebrate achieving United Million Mile Status – by taking a five-day train trip back to Seattle from New Orleans. For those of you curious about all the benefits of United Million Mile Status, just click on the link.

My red-eye via San Francisco arrived a little after 5:30am…and shockingly, even though I have plenty of time to get to the train station, my bag is the first on off the carousel, which probably means it was the last one loaded onto the plane with my tight connection. I was relived last night when I saw my bag on the loading equipment – nothing like having a bright yellow bag to stand out against all the black ones.

In true cheap-ass style I’m taking the E2 Jet Express into the Central Business District. There is a stop 5 humid blocks away the New Orleans Amtrak Station, and at this time of day the bus if filled by more folks with hard hats than folks with luggage…I might be the only one. It was interesting hearing the different folks from different stops and different destinations chatting away like they see each other every morning – which I’m betting they do.

The New Orleans Amtrak Station not only serves Amtrak, but Greyhound and one other bus line as well…open and airy, it’s more of a 50′s-70′s style station rather than the old vaulted ceiling of Chicago, LA, Kansas City, Seattle, etc.

The station also features the Magnolia Room for its Sleeping Car Passengers:

Nothing fancy, but in addition there were a couple of overstuffed chairs – perfect for the almost four hour nap I took – I was just happy as hell that the room was open at 7AM when I arrived. With a cup of coffee and the half sandwich from last night, that nap was a welcome addition to the hour of sleep I got on the flight (assuming that).

After getting a little sleep it is off to the store for supplemental supplies for the trip (soda and beef jerky) and a little lunch. Luckily, three blocks away is a massive grocery store (Rouses) – a rarity in a downtown.

Probably not the healthiest of lunches, but what they hell, it’s New Orleans.

Mac and Cheese with bacon, mashed potatoes (no gravy), roast chicken and fried chicken – and one of the Diet Cokes from the twelve pack for the trip. In addition to the Diet Coke, picked up a twelve pack of Diet Ginger Ale and some Oberto (funny that it’s a Seattle brand) Beef Jerky.

We loaded to train a little after 1PM for our 1:45PM departure.

And quickly I was settled into my office/bedroom for the next 20 hours.

Somebody call for a cocktail?

Soon we were off through neighborhoods still ravaged from Hurricane Katrina – and the occasional amusing scenes, like a collection of Mardi Gras Floats awaiting next year (or maybe never):

My first hoped for “Platform Memories” stops was to be Jackson, Mississippi where Ed runs a letterpress shop and an occasional backyard 35mm movie theatre. Alas, he schedule didn’t allow a trip in from the burbs and as it turns out, non-ticketed people aren’t allowed on the platform, so it was just me:

Other hopeful “PM”s were thwarted as well. Roberta in Chicago – in Sweden. Cynthia from Chicago – in Wisconsin. We’ll see how the Lawrence, Kansas City, Flagstaff and Los Angeles folks do.

The City of New Orleans has some slightly upgraded equipment like this odd Dining Car on one side, Café Car on the other side of a single car:

And then a sort of café seating, observation seating car right behind it:

With their schedules it’s a little weird, leaves too late for lunch out of New Orleans, and gets in so early that there is a limited breakfast from 6AM to 7:15PM – and speaking of breakfast:

Scrambled eggs, pork sausage and home fries, which I was good and didn’t completely finish.

Overall, the experience wasn’t a good as the Southwest Chief or the even better (well, in the past) Coast Starlight:

  • really crappy tracks and a fitful night of sleep
  • limited dinner and breakfast menus

On the plus side:

  • my dinner steak was actually medium rare
  • my porter had ice available at all hours, including the morning
  • we arrived five minutes early

I’ll do a final wrap-up after the next two legs.

Hello Chicago – for six hours.

[? ? ?] I hate to think about the weight number with an “Amtrak Diet” week.

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Mon
16
Jun '14

Trip Report: My Millionth Mile.

For the trip I’ve looked forward to for years, it isn’t starting well. I got Jimmy to cover my last two hours of my shift (3-5pm Sunday) so I could get to the airport with enough time (via cab) to have a couple of drinks and a light supper before the first leg of my flight.

Here are the text messages I started getting from United:

2:59PM – Your 7:06PM flight to San Francisco is delayed due awaiting aircraft. UA771 now departs Seattle 8:30PM and arrives San Francisco at 10:27PM

Now you know why I always plan multiple hour layovers if possible…since their goes an hour and a half of my two hour layover.

3:41PM – Your 7:06PM flight to San Francisco is delayed due awaiting aircraft. UA771 now departs Seattle 9:00PM and arrives San Francisco at 10:57PM

That won’t do – a call to the Platinum line at United gets me a first class seat on the next flight out – though this one is via Houston before getting to New Orleans

4:01PM – United flight delay. As of 2:01pm Jun. 15, UA771SEA-SFO now departs Seattle 8:00PM from Gate A10 on June 15. Subject to change.

6:00PM – Your 7:06PM flight to San Francisco is delayed due awaiting aircraft. UA771 now departs Seattle 8:20PM and arrives San Francisco at 10:17PM

7:01PM – Your 7:06PM flight to San Francisco is delayed due awaiting aircraft. UA771 now departs Seattle 8:02PM and arrives San Francisco at 10:17PM

12:31AM – Your flight into SFO is delayed. If you are unable to make your flight, you have been confirmed on alternate flights. As of 1:57PM 15JUN, You are confirmed on US400 and UA245. US400 departs SFO 11:50PM gate 61, arrive IAH 5:48AM. UA245 departs IAH 7:10AM gate , arrives MSY 8:25AM. Get new boarding pass at www.united.com, kiosk or gate.

We got in at 10:30pm – but not to the gate I was expected, which was just across the concourse – nope, other end of United’s gates, luckily not the international terminal. But wait – the New Orleans flight is now late.

1:03AM – Your flight to New Orleans is delayed due to awaiting aircraft. UA655 now departs San Francisco 11:23pm and arrive 5:32am

And my favorite – seems my alternate flight was delayed as well.

1:29AM – Your 11:50pm flight to Houston is delayed due to awaiting aircraft. UA400 now departs San Francisco 12:15AM and arrive 6:12AM

Good thing I have unlimited messaging on my phone.

But enough with travel anxieties – I just wanted to show that even Uncle Markie’s Travels are subject to hick-ups. We start with the Board Room in Seattle…

Finally, on the way to San Francisco with a VERY chatty seatmate…not:

On my trek between gates at SFO I spotted this construction lift – really, the name is “Sky Jack” – in an airport. “Bob, bring over the Sky Jack”.

And eventually, onto my original New Orleans flight:

Since it’s a longer flight…there is a snack…almost healthy:

After I was done my snack, at 12:45am on June 16th, 2014 I hit my Million Mile mark 373 miles into the flight. GOLD FOR LIFE. I had the flight attendant ask the captain for the moment – she rewarded me with a fist bump – was sorta hoping balloons would fall from the ceiling and the confetti guns would blow – alas, not in an airplane.

And now the adventure begins in New Orleans.

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Sat
14
Jun '14

UnTrip Report: The One That Got Away & The One That Is Replacing It.

Well, the plan this week was to be in Bozeman to hopefully hang with the Hockey Player…but that was starting to look doubtful with a recent job change, and a desire on his part to stay firmly rooted in the closet of his Catholic upbringing.

That’s when I start doing the dollar/fun calculations:

  • Airfare: $220 (which is about 25% off)
  • Rental Car: $135 (also 25% off)
  • Airport Parking: $80
  • Hotels: $250-$300 depending
  • Park Pass: $25

So, really we are talking upwards of $800 without food drink…all for a couple of possible/maybe/who knows get togethers – it just didn’t pencil out. It would be MUCH cheaper just to fly him out for the weekend – which is what I offered.

Here are the two places I had booked for the first night:

$74 dollars a night, bathroom/shower nearby – presto logs for heat. No wonder they are called the Rough Rider cabins. Located by Roosevelt Lodge deep inside of Yellowstone National Park (add $25 park entrance fee to get to them).

The other choice was the WorldMark West Yellowstone at about the same dollar amount, but with full kitchen, bath and heating.

Sorry, couldn’t find a summer shot of the WorldMark.

I know I’ve said it again and again – one of the reasons that I chase airline status is the ability to change my mind about going places and not have to pay cancellation/change fees. The same reason that I tend to book my hotel stays directly with the hotel rather than via Expedia (though I do use them for research) is that with Expedia you pay in advance and cancel through them, with hotel direct, you pay when you get there.

Cancelled everything the week that I was down in Santa Fe visiting mom. No cancellation/change fees on anything, though the airplane ticket goes back into my eWallet at Alaska Air for future use – which is what I booked yesterday with all my free time at home this week. This will be my trip to Denver in mid-August.

Cab, train, plane, cab – Seattle to Denver on the Coast Starlight, transferring to the California Zephyr in Sacramento with a 4+ hour layover – hopefully enough time even if the Coast Starlight is running late.

The main reason (besides seeing Dan and Lisa) is to see the newly renovated Union Station in Denver. It is scheduled to open (the lower bus/light rail areas are already open) July 12th. Look at some of these publicity shots of the station:

Hopefully my train won’t be running late so that we can have dinner at the Stoic and Genuine Seafood & Oyster Bar also set to open on July 12th.

Total out of pocket costs so far (i.e. that dinner isn’t going to be cheap):

  • Airfare: used $152.00 in eWallet funds from the Montana
  • Train: transferred 15,000 Chase Ink points to Amtrak Guest Rewards to cover the two legs in a roomette with meals supplied
  • Lodging: Dan and Lisa’s guest bedroom

So, out of pocket – ZIP until the dinner out. And the real bonus? The Denver to Seattle leg will put me over the 40,000 flight mile mark for Alaska MVP Gold status through the end of 2015.

Summer is a great time to use points for Amtrak travel since they don’t have any black-out dates (well, they might around the holidays). Here is the trip that I have planned for next week so look for the blog post…

Starting to do the packing for that trip….

  • Windbreaker
  • 2 Old Fashioned glasses (for evening cocktails with a spare for a hopeful guest
  • Bottle of Evan Williams
  • Computer stuff
  • Shorts (wearing long pants)
  • Reading material
  • Etc.

I’ve already mapped out where the closest Walgreens is to the train station in New Orleans – conveniently at one of the Jet Express stops for the bus from the airport.

Andin the end, ll the paperwork goes into bound volumes – all the emails, confirmations, tickets, etc.:

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Fri
6
Jun '14

Trip Report: Santa Fe, New Mexico – Visiting Mom.

This week’s adventure was to head to Santa Fe, NM to visit with mom and work through the “honeydoo” list.

Decent flight time out of Seattle, but that means a late arrival in Santa Fe. Late being 9:15pm, which by the time luggage came (took back wine and cherries for the family) it was 10pm by the time I got to El Castillo (The Castle) where mom lives.

The flight plan is Seattle to Los Angeles on this bird:

In an exit row seat, without the leg room of previous exit rows:

In Los Angeles, it’s a terminal change after a stop at the Board Room to get a little work done since I have a four hour layover…

The flight from Los Angeles to Santa Fe is also an exit row – with the seat next to me open:

Got the Road Runner Shuttle to El Castillo getting there around 10pm. Mom left the door to her condo open a bit — I’m sure my father is rolling in his urn over this – he was a tad security paranoid. Mom as asleep so it wasn’t unitl 10 in the morning that I got to see the “honeydoo” list over my morning coffee.

Here is what I accomplished:

  • Installed new cordless phone/answering machine
  • Unpacked all the boxes of geriatric gear
  • Set up spring-loaded lift assist for bedroom chair
  • Set up shower stall seat
  • Set up raised toilet seat
  • Made Deviled eggs

    I wanted to do eight eggs – Mom said that was too many – hopefully Jon and Norma will eat (or Devil) the rest of the eggs when they come next month.
  • Broke down all the boxes and got them to recycling
  • Ran to the store to restock all the bourbon, vermouth, soda, eggs (for me and the Devils)
  • Picked up the mail, droped off the mail
  • And probably lots of things I forgot but did anyway like going to the fridge and tossing past date leftovers.

We didn’t my name transferred onto one of the bank accounts (Jen is on one, Jon is on another) but I’ll be back in October if we can’t get this done through the post.

Dinner tonight was take-out from the Santa Fe Bite, formerly the Bobcat Bite which used to be out on the old highway headed to El Dorado where my parents used to live, and sis-in-law Jenn, bro-in-law Kennan, and niece Karen still live. The food was good the service from awful. Mom had the Bacon Cheeseburger and a Strawberry Shake (example of awful service, not only did the food take way too long to get out of the kitchen, I had to wait while they made a strawberry shake because they gave me a chocolate one) and I had the Rib Eye steak with slaw (a little too vinegary and dry for my taste) and sweet potato fries (a little soggy from waiting around for the proper shake). Yes, I know – ordering a rib-eye from take out, what was I thinking – but it was perfectly cooked.

More puttering around the condo on Wednesday – time to hang out with Mom, both of us in the living room, her reading, me catching up on work (updating the wine shop’s website, catching up on TripAdvisor reviews for the places I stayed, eaten, visited). In the afternoon I wandered into town to pick up a Hemmingway Short Story cigar for my niece who is on a Hemmingway kick. Of course the funny thing is that Hemmingway didn’t smoke – it’s just a line of cigars by Arturo Fuente. The cigar is going in a gift bag with two miniatures of Scotch –Dewar’s White Label (a blend) and Glen Livet (a single malt). Hemmingway did drink scotch.

Here are a couple of shots of the area around The Plaza in Santa Fe:

Above is the St. Francis Cathedral (Catholic).

Above is Loretto Chapel with its amazing carved spiral staircase (image on Wikipedia link). The couple that bought my church on Lopez Island got married in this church – for their honeymoon they toured Northern New Mexico to look at all the small churches in the region – apparently making them want to buy one of their own. If you click on the My Church link you can see the real estate video from 2011 when they sold it. Trust me, it didn’t look that nice when I owned it. They dumped a ton of money into the place and I’m sure they didn’t get it all back considering they bought it in 2008 in the middle of the real estate mess.

And The Plaza itself. The Palace of the Governors Museum is on the far side of The Plaza.

Big dinner out tonight with all five of us at SantacaFé just off The Plaza in Santa Fe.

From left to right: Bro-in-law Kennan, Mom, Karen, Jenn, Uncle Markie.

Great food (reminds me that I need to do a TripAdvisor review!) I had the Filet Mignon, Kennan and Jenn split a Rib Eye, Karen went for the Green Chili Cheeseburger, and Mom for the tempura soft shell crab special appetizer along with the special pasta for the night (most of which went home in a doggie bag for lunch).

Paired with a lovely 2011 Famille Perrin Vacqueyras “Les Christins”. Tasting Notes: Clean, fresh and juicy with black raspberry, cranberry and spice; smooth texture, meaty and bright; long and balanced. Syrah, Grenache.

And what a pretty dessert that Kennan and Karen shared:

I’ve totally forgotten that is was – I do remember eating the mint leaves off the top as my dessert.

The morning brought an early flight on not much sleep – and a rather large gentleman in the seat next to me on the commuter jet back to Los Angeles. Only a couple of hours in Los Angeles to change terminals and grab a drink and a snack in the Board Room before catching my flight to Portland on one of the newer Alaska Airlines plans with the Sky Interior and their new Recarro seats.

Odd since I thought they were also installing outlets and USB jacks at all the seats with these new airplanes. I had a little over an hour in Portland to grab some wine and cheese in the Board Room before my flight to Seattle on the UW-themed Horizon flight:

The only casualty of the trip was my Porter-Case when once again suffered some damage – this time a latch that was completely ripped off at the hinge:

They offered me $100 in flight credit or 4,000 miles on the spot – or the offer of possible repair. Looks like I’ll be going back to T.R. Carroll on Monday to see if they can fix it at the airlines expense. Porter-Case has bordering on bankruptcy so I’m not sure if there will be parts available. I’ll keep you all informed of the outcome. Friday, Saturday, Sunday work schedule for me this week.

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