Category Archives: Travel

Someplace Special – April 08th

Fenway Park, Boston

August, 2004. I took most of the family (The Son was overseas in the Air Force) to Boston. Being us, we had to go to a baseball game there in what was to them a new baseball stadium. In what was to me a cathedral, and old friend, a long-lost happy place.

It had been sort of a shitty vacation up to that point. We had been up in Vermont visiting my mother, which was nice, and had gone to visit Montreal, which was nice right up until our car got broken into, our luggage and my briefcase stolen, and we got the pleasure of spending most of the next three days trying to cancel credit cards and bank accounts before the identity theft got too bad.

We were going to the 2004 Worldcon in Boston and knew the Angels were in town against the Red Sox, so we spent more on 3rd row seats behind the Angels dugout than we spent on airfare. (Thank goodness the tickets had been left in Vermont and weren’t in my stolen briefcase!)

The Sox were up early and after seven innings the Angels were losing, 10-1. The Daughters had brought their rally monkeys (which were ALL the rage that year) and were waving them wildly despite the score. And we scored two in the eighth inning. And then scored four in the ninth inning…

I remember having at least one guy still on base and maybe two, so the tying run was at the plate before they finally got us out and won the game. A lot of the Boston faithful had left early, but those that remained were giving us some serious stink eye.

It was glorious.


I know the world has an abnormally high ratio of shit in it right now – but it also still has a lot of good things, and good things that will come back to us. It’s important to remember that. So let’s remember that and hold onto it when we need it.

Our family and many others are missing the simple pleasures now, like going to a ballgame, or even just watching one on television. It sucks. It’s a constant, nagging reminder that things are not right.

But so far we’re all healthy – I hope you are too. This will pass, and the baseball games will return.

We need to be doing this now in order to help as many of us as possible be around when they do.

Wash your hands. Wear a face mask. Maintain physical distancing.

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Filed under LA Angels, Photography, Sports, Travel

High & Fast

As always on a crisp, cold morning, when the contrails are razor sharp…

…I wonder where they’re going and wishing that I was going along.

Christmas with family? A holiday getaway from the daily grind? A honeymoon? A funeral?

Off they went to their adventures. Off I went to my routine.

On general principles, I started the day behind on points.

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Filed under Photography, Travel

New York, New York (Pictures Day 21)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular! Then we went to Yankee Stadium for a game.


Because it was Alex Rodriguez’s final game, there was a huge crowd and a big pre-game ceremony planned. The weather, on the other hand, had other ideas and the grounds crew got ready to roll out the tarp.

And not a moment too soon. We were just a row or two under the 2nd deck overhang, so we were relatively safe from being too soaked.

As the storm moved over the stadium, the winds started roaring (see the flags?) and the underside of the storm cell looked like movie special effects for “all Hell’s going to break loose.”

Despite the fact that it was something like 90 minutes before sunset, it got black as night with thunder rumbling constantly out of the clouds right overhead. Good thing we weren’t sitting right next to a humongous yellow steel pole sticking up in the air a hundred feet or so, right?!!

That sick yellow color on the underside of the clouds doesn’t make you feel better about the situation when 30 seconds before it was pitch black.

ARod was out there trying to be ceremonial. My concern was that he was out there with his family and a few dignitaries while the end of the freakin’ world was rolling in from the west. Don’t they understand what bad PR it would be for ARod and his family to be killed by lightning in the middle of this farewell ceremony?

And these dudes out there warming up? I can only conclude that they wanted to make sure that ARod didn’t get fricasseed alive alone by Thor throwing thunderbolts. Probably a team camaraderie thing. Or they’re really freakin’ stupid, I could go either way.

The skies finally opened up and they cut the ARod ceremony short. See, there IS a god!

The rain passed after a half-hour or so of downpour and the game finally got underway . We almost never leave a ballgame before the end, but we were exhausted and chose to bug out early. Someday I’ll get back to Yankee Stadium and take a more thorough tour, camera in hand.

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Filed under Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather

LOOK!!

Tonight on Twitter, someone wrote:

…which prompted a response from someone I follow…

…to which I said…

But seriously, folks! Why does everyone on the plane shut the window shade throughout the whole flight these days??!!

Being at 5,000, or 25,000, or 45,000 feet gives us a viewpoint on the world that was flat out impossible only 100 years ago, and was still highly unusual to the average person 60 or 70 years ago. Even today, despite how commonplace air travel has begun, for 90%+ of us it’s something we might see once or twice a year. For probably half of the US population or more it’s something they experience only every few years.

The world is a different place seen from above. The clouds come in myriad shapes and forms, flowing over vast distances, breaking up into puffy cotton balls, building into monstrous thunderheads. Sunrise from high altitude is the closest most of us will come to seeing an orbital sunrise, while sunset lingers and elongates time as the sky darkens and the stars come out.

You’ll always know where I’m sitting on the plane if I get a window seat. It doesn’t matter if it’s night – there might be aurora or stars. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy – I love looking at the clouds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ten-hour flight over open water – I’ll watch for ships or islands or whales or mermaids.

I’ve seen full double rainbows while dodging thunderstorms on final into DFW. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon as a gash in the earth, while the Rockies covered with snow even in April and May look like the Earth’s ragged teeth. Rivers meandering, from the Mississippi to the Rio Grande and Potomac, tributaries branching off like poster children for fractal math.

Whole cities can be laid out before you. The Las Vegas Strip at night with enough neon to scare away the stars themselves. Washington DC laid out like a model, monuments and tourist sites elbow to elbow. New York City with Central Park beckoning and a lady standing in her harbor, Seattle with Mt. Rainier on guard, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to its neighbors, Chicago and Lake Michigan spreading out like the spokes of a wheel. And for me, the American City of Lights, Los Angeles, lit up like a jewel for 100 miles in every direction, freeways like ribbons of light, the Hollywood sign off to the north, and the fireworks from Disneyland in Anaheim to the south.

Yet on almost flight I’ve taken in the past couple of years, by the time we’ve taxied out and are taking off, 90% of the shades are down. People have logged onto the plane’s wifi and they’re doing the exact same damn things they were doing on the ground. They’re answering boring emails, watching idiot videos, or playing mindless games. While outside, just a few inches away, are wonders and fantastic sights.

We’re jaded. We’ve lost our sense of wonder.

We’ve lost our minds.

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Filed under Flying, Travel

New York, New York (Pictures Day 20)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular!


Following our obligatory tourist visit to the Empire State Building, we had to boogie off to the Bronx. We had a coincidental appointment with history and some bombers.

When we travel, we love to see other ballparks, and one of the best of the best was next on our list.

This is the third iteration of this particular cathedral of sport. Until the time machine gets out of the shop we won’t be able to visit either of the earlier ones, but this one is pretty spectacular on its own.

Even though we were there a good three hours before game time, the place was already getting pretty packed. It was a real lucky break that we had bought tickets for this particular date months earlier. It was truly a hot ticket, but we weren’t giving up ours, even though we almost could have paid for the trip in what we could have gotten if we had scalped them.

There were a LOT of news vans and media crews there, even for New York City! Local, national, international, all turned out in droves for the game this day. Satellite uplink trunks for blocks and blocks.

It turns out that the game we picked (because it fit into our schedule) was Alex Rodriguez’s final game, with all of the pomp and circumstance associated with that.

We sat around outside the gates and watched the crowd for a couple of hours, especially all of the news crews and media “celebrities.” I don’t have a clue who this woman was, but she set up shop right in front of our bench and was drawing quite a bit of attention, for example.

Once we got to our seats out by the left field foul pole, I started the usual stadium tour that I always try to take when I’m at a new stadium for the first time. Our seats weren’t quite this close to the field, but that turned out to be a good thing.

The crowd was looking for ARod and I was loving the atmosphere of such a legendary site.

Once out in dead center field, about an hour before the actual game, looking back to the west, I noticed that the clouds were building up.

Huh.

Ten minutes later, now outside of the right field bleachers, it really started to look nasty.

There were a ton of pre-game ceremonies planned to say goodbye to ARod – but maybe God isn’t an ARod fan?

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Filed under Photography, Travel

No Context For You – November 09th

There’s something tantalizing here. Almost enough detail to recognize where and when I inadvertently pushed a button and saved an image without realizing it.

Almost…

Meanwhile, Jeez Louise, *WHEN* did it become **NOVEMBER**??!!

Sorry, it caught me off guard today.

Way back at the beginning of the year I wrote about how last year became the “year without Christmas” for me. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, given what I got to exchange Christmas for, but it was odd. (And to answer the question posed at the end of that article – right here at home, given the nature of the business at my new job.)

But then 2019 has had its own unique sets of “challenges,” many of which have impacted other holidays, both societal and personal.

For example, between 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever that we didn’t go somewhere to watch fireworks on July 4th. Oh, from the new house, which is on the top of a hill, we can see them off in the distance – but it’s not the same.

In both 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever when we haven’t been to an Angels baseball game. None. Not one. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Labor Day or thereabouts used to be Worldcon. Maybe not every year like when I was in college or soon thereafter (i.e., before the kids arrived) but usually at least 2 out of three years, or three out of five. Now – nothing since 2009. Hell, we didn’t even get to the Worldcon in San Jose last year!

Our trips to the movie theaters have plummeted. We used to go at least once a month – now it’s once or twice a year. Maybe.

Halloween at the new house has been a non-event for two years in a row now. We used to have so, so many kids come by and bring out the telescopes. Now, even though we’re only a mile away, we might as well be on a rural highway halfway between Renwick and Hardy, Iowa.

So here we are in early November and Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. We’ll be doing…what?

And Christmas is only six and a half weeks away. We know we won’t be traveling, but will the lights and festivities and decorations and celebrations be up to our familiar standards?

One might start to think that we’re doing this “adulting” thing incorrectly.

(Thank you for attending my TED whine!)

 

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Filed under Castle Willett, Family, Photography, Travel

Scattered Back On The Winds

Having gathered family and friends from the four corners of the globe (literally), with the festivities completed (and they WERE festive!) it was time today to scatter the children back on the winds.

The Older Daughter had to be back at work this morning in Northern California, so she made the long drive back last night.

I was up way too damn early to drive The Son to the airport, which not only completely played “52 Pick Up” with their pick up traffic (taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc are now off in an off-site lot which no one can find and no one can figure out how to get to or from) but which also appears to be 100% under construction.

Isn’t it iconic?

Then the Younger Daughter and her newly minted husband, The Son-In-Law, took off for their honeymoon.

So as we speak, one is in a plane to Asia near the end of an eleven-hour-plus flight, and the others are near the US/Canada border on their way to Europe.

And tomorrow I’m back to the office to play catch up after the long weekend.

Time to go looking for a new normal, a new routine. It’s been magnificent, but I really could use a little bit of boredom for a few weeks!

 

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Filed under Family, Photography, Travel