Category Archives: Travel

Random Old Photos – May 28th

Going way back, near the start of my digital photography era. September, 2000, in Chicago for Worldcon.

I had a tiny Epson point-and-shoot digital camera, 640×640 (0.4 megapixel) resolution. (For reference, my 2005 Canon DSLR is 8 megapixels, my 2007 Canon is 10 megapixels, current Canons are 24 megapixels and up – and iPhones from model 7 through model 12 are 12 megapixels.) So the image size and quality is “marginal” even compared to early smartphones.

This image is from the morning that I was up early to start packing for the return flight to LA. Navy Pier’s in the center along with Chicago River.

It occurs to me that while I grew up for a while (junior high school years) in the Chicago suburbs, and I’ve been back at least two or three times for conventions, I haven’t ever been back there as an adult to be a tourist and just hang around and see the sights. I’ve seen the Picasso sculpture and the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium and Grant Park and the Museum of Science and Industry – but all just once each, on school field trips. I’ve never been back to see them and spend as much time as I want and on my own schedule without worrying about a teacher yelling at me to get back on the bus or be left behind.

It would be really nice to do that some day.


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Random Old Photos – May 03rd

July, 2007, a flight from Burbank to Oakland. (Pro tip – if you can avoid LAX and go out of Burbank or Long Beach or Ontario, DO SO! It might cost $20 more, but the lack of additional wear and tear on your nerves makes it worth every penny.)

On final approach to Oakland, off to your left there is San Francisco Bay and the massive salt ponds, side by side with housing tracts packing folks in like sardines.

Which got me to thinking about how long it’s been since I went anywhere or was in a plane. June, 2019, coming up quick on two years. Soon, again…

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Random Old Photos – April 05th

2006, fifteen years ago.

One of the most glamorous cities in the world! Well, they want you to think that. 24/7 glitz, glamour, bright lights, action, activity, shows, and gambling, gambling, gambling!

Of course, Las Vegas.

We were there on our 5th anniversary, staying at the Bellagio. Plenty of pictures of the fountains out in front, the extravagant displays along The Strip, the wonderful facades around every corner in every hotel. (I take a lot of pictures!) Gorgeous, all of them!

But the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas are only skin deep, a veneer. That’s not necessarily bad and it doesn’t necessarily make it a place where you can’t have fun. But don’t forget, and remember why that entire fake place exists – to separate you from your cash.

And in back of the veneer… Even if you’re there for your anniversary and want it to be special… When you’re staying at one of the really nice, new hotels… But maybe got the discount room…

You might find that it’s a twenty minute hike from the front desk to your hotel room, and you can only just see the fountains by going waaaaaaay over into the corner window and peeking around the two other towers between you and the show, and about 90% of what you see looking out your window is not neon or fountains or pirate ships or roller coasters, but instead is really, REALLY LOUD construction equipment about 18 hours a day.

Maybe that’s why I liked this picture so much more than all of the expected ones.


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The Great Cicada Fiasco

The cicadas are coming again this year (And Dr. Okorafor is a most wonderful writer, in case you’ve somehow missed her work):

I have memories of seeing cicadas when I was a kid, probably when we visited relatives on the East Coast when I was a pre-teen. I was freaked out a bit by their appearance, but mesmerized and enraptured by their singing.

Eight years ago we were in Virginia Beach during one of the cicada brood’s hatching and I wrote about going cicada hunting, unsuccessfully. And while that afternoon was pleasant (family, food, wine, chocolate) the somewhat hilarious memory that always comes back to me is how the Long Suffering Niece In Training #2, sitting in the back seat, kept asking every half hour or so, “Where are we going?” She hadn’t been in on the planning but had been invited along and figured we had some sane, rational, entertaining destination in mind.

I kept replying, “We’re going hunting for cicadas,” which while 100% truthful, when combined with my (well earned) reputation as “Funcle Paul,” someone who you usually took seriously at your own risk, combined to make the question on repeated iterations, “No, REALLY, where are we going?” The fact that everyone else in the car kept giving her the same answer probably had her ready to jump out and hitchhike home.

I guess it’s sort of a bizarre, humorous take on the Cassandra story combined with the little boy who cried wolf.

So, when we eventually bailed on my quest, found a place for a nice lunch at a winery, found a specialty chocolate store, and had a wonderful time, but all without ever seeing or hearing a single cicada, The Long Suffering Niece In Training #2 still to this day probably believes that my “cicada story” was all 100% bullshit from the beginning. Even though I would, in fact, still like to see and hear the cicadas.

Probably not this year either. I guess it will just have to be more chocolate and wine (socially distanced, of course).

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Wild Turkeys

We just had THAT holiday and most of us had some sort of turkey – and most of us are STILL eating turkey.

Turkeys’ range is known to cover most of North America east of the Rockies, but west of the Great Plains the range is spottier. The map actually doesn’t show them much of anywhere down in Southern California – but I have evidence that they’re here, at least in the San Diego / Mount Palomar area as of 2007.

The Mount Palomar Observatory with the world famous 200″ telescope is extremely cool to visit. I recommend it if you visit the Southern California / San Diego area.

The problem with getting down the mountain is that our brakes started overheating, and when they heat up they don’t brake. This is bad.

There are pull-outs and rest stops for just this sort of thing, so we stopped for a few minutes to let the brakes cool. It’s a heavily wooded area and after a couple minutes, on the other side of the road, I noticed movement in the bushes.

Naturally, I grabbed my camera, crossed the road, and hoped it wasn’t bears or something hungry and fanged. It wasn’t, it was a flock of wild turkeys.

They were off in the bushes, moving in and out of sunshine, so it was tough getting a good photo. There were seven or eight total, and the coloration on them was astonishing. Their feathers were iridescent when the sun caught them.

So believe it or not, there are wild turkeys in the Southern California mountains. I have proof, and now so do you!

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Random Old Photos – November 25th

The seed thought for tonight’s random photo generator brainwave was, “What was I doing ten years ago?”

Wandering around down by the waterfront at a UC Berkeley facility after a storm, apparently.

WHY was I at Berkeley? That’s a long story. Let’s say that I was chasing wild geese and still getting a pay check for doing it. But it was interesting.

Have a safe Thanksgiving tomorrow if you’re in the US. I hope you’re able to stay home if possible. Missing Thanksgiving dinner sucks. But not nearly as much as being intubated, being a “long hauler,” or being a statistic.

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Random Old Photos – November 11th

The WWII memorial in Washington, DC. Seems appropriate today.

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No Context For You – October 07th

Jeez, it’s been 14 years… Okay, 14 years and 9 days, give or take a time zone.

I always figured I would be back long, long before now.

We were talking about this the other day re: COVID and being in lockdown for coming up on seven months. It was regarding baseball, how we hadn’t been to an Angels or Dodgers game in a couple of years because we always just assumed that we could go whenever we want. Until we can’t.

So after this is behind us and the world returns to some semblance of “normal,” we’re going to not take for granted things like ball games and little trips and big trips. My daughter referred to it as something like a “rush of FOMO” – pretty much!


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Random Old Photos – September 25th

The setting should be familiar, even if you’ve never been there yourself.

American Falls on the left, Horseshoe Falls in the distance in the center-right.

It was an okay day, we had fun. One of those places that I spent a couple hours at where I wouldn’t mind going back for a day or two to explore more.

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Random Old Photos – September 15th

Leaving Essex, New York, heading across Lake Champlain.

I’ve only been on a ferry once or twice. This was in June – I kept wondering what this trip would be like, if they can do it at all, in January or February. Their web site says that it’s all-year – weather & ice conditions permitting. The lake does free over, although these days (climate change, like it or not!) it’s about three times a decade instead of seven or eight times a decade.

I’ll guarantee you won’t see this guy out here in mid-winter. I’m just glad that he saw us and we saw him.

Pulling into Charlotte, Vermont, just south of Burlington, where we were flying out of to get back home after a week in Vermont and New York.

I do think about being there all the time and then coming back to LA for a week or so every couple of years instead of the other way around. I always seem to be happier arriving there than I do getting back here.

That might be a sign. If happiness counts.


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