Category Archives: Travel

Venice And Sapsucker Woods

This finish line crossed

The race won for the moment

Time to relax, to read, to breathe – tonight

00:43:29 at the pond’s edge, no birds to be found at the feeder

But small critters occasionally scurry by for theft

Snow falling heavily

In Venice it’s foggy at 06:43:29, traffic slow and sparse

Across the canal someone’s television has flickered all night

Odd shapes flashing, occasionally recognizable, always foreign

As sea birds and gulls flash by in the mist like specters.

Los Angeles at 21:43:29 is cool and calm, another day entirely

Longing for travel and adventures, settling for far less again, taking what’s available

Tomorrow we begin again.

 

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Random Old Photos – January 13th

When it’s been a long day in the middle of a long week in the middle of a long month after several long months… Throw a dart at the photo directory!

Big surprise! I was someplace taking pictures of airplanes!

2006. McCarren Airport, Las Vegas.

Give me an airport, a camera, and a couple hours to kill before our flight, I’ll be predictable.

To be honest, 2006 must have been a weird year. I actually had to look through about a half dozen directories before I found something that didn’t give me PTSD.

Work related, a couple of jobs ago, but time and selective amnesia had erased some of those memories. Nothing too nasty – an awards ceremony, folks I hadn’t thought of in probably fifteen years, an office move.

Damn! Good things there were planes too!

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DIY Silver Lining

It’s “suboptimal” at best to be sitting at my desk at 23:15, especially after having been here pretty much constantly, going like a demon, since about 08:15 this morning.

But if you have to make your own silver lining (and it doesn’t look like the cavalry is coming over the hill to do it for me any time soon) you can do worse than setting up the monitors on your secondary computer with this view.

On the left, the Shiodome Rail Tracks in Tokyo. (If you’re bored, try to use Google Earth to figure out exactly where the camera by matching up buildings and landmarks.) My son turned me on to this feed a while back since he was passing through there periodically. It’s very calming and the trains rumbling below are wonderful white noise.

On the right, Venice as seen from the Hotel Filu. This channel plays light classical music all the time (lots of Vivaldi, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, that sort of thing) and you can watch the boats go by. Tonight (my time) as I was working it was dawn in Venice, where the skies are clear and brisk and the sunset was wonderful!

Yes, very much places I would like to be rather than at this desk. One of these days…

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My Calendar Today

“[TENATIVE] Fly to Washington DC”

On the one hand, good thing that trip got cancelled! I am so up to my ass in alligators between work and the hangar and year-end and budgets and tax returns and tying up loose ends and DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE ME!

On the other hand, it’s yet another thing that I would truly, truly love to do (we were going for Worldcon in DC, but because of COVID the con has turned into a bit of a “challenge” with hotels closing and facilities in short supply and moving from August to December) that I can’t because of COVID in part, but also because there’s that whole “adult” thing to deal with.

I’ll carry on. I’ll live. But there might be moments in the next week when I’m seeing reports from the convention and friends who DID make it there when I’ll be cranky.

On the gripping hand, when one door closes, another opens. One event that got written off when we were planning on being in DC this week suddenly became a possibility. And with the kids coming down…

Okay, I’ll be a tiny little bit less cranky.

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Random Old Photos – September 28th

No sure quite how “random,” but the truth is I wasn’t even looking for a photo necessarily, and in particular I wasn’t looking for something to use in a “random old photo” post. But I was punching buttons at random-ish on my iPhone, looking for inspiration, and at some point hit something referring to “Your Memories” and it came up with a set of photos from exactly fifteen years ago, September 28, 2006.

Antwerp. I was there with a group of my Pepperdine MBA classmates for the next to last day of our foreign tour to Prague and Brussels. We had traveled to Antwerp by bus (I remember having been up waaaaaay too late the night before and gotten up way too early that morning), had two meetings that were part of our MBA curriculum, had lunch next to the harbor, and then had about an hour to wander around town.

I walked down to the town square and the cathedral, camera in hand of course.

It’s funny what you remember. Just on the right past the crosswalk was a little pharmacy. By this point in the trip I had massive blisters and wanted to find some Band-Aids and  something to kill the pain. The very nice woman in the store spoke no English, I spoke no Dutch, but we figured it out. Curiously, I still have a couple of those Band-Aids, or at least I did the last time I looked.

Not the oddest souvenir I’ve ever brought home, but a contender for the short list.

Fifteen years. It actually turned out to be a melancholy memory. About half of the photos were of classmates, at lunch, in town, on the bus, at dinner afterwards… We’ve gone our separate ways. I still see one or two on FaceBook every now and then and there are a few Christmas cards that get swapped, but that’s it. And I have no idea when I’ll see Europe again. Or if…

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Random Old Photos – September 21st

The end of summer is here. The autumn equinox is tomorrow, September 22nd, at 15:21 EDT, 12:21 PDT. From there the days get shorter and the nights longer, until we get to December 21, 2021.

Out of curiosity, I looked up where I was on the autumn equinox ten years ago. I figured it would be some random picture around town or more birds, lizards, or dogs. Nope, I was out of the country!

In London, to be precise. I had gone to Southampton for three days of testing on a theoretical procedure for reducing drag on racing yachts. On the way home, the timing was off for getting straight from Southampton to Los Angeles via Heathrow, so I ended up with about twenty hours in London.

Poor, poor me how it worked out that way.

I didn’t get much sleep on that brief layover. There was plenty of time for that in steerage on the flight home.

This picture is from my first stop after a quick nap (I think I left Trafalgar Square about 3 AM according to the date stamp on the pictures.) It was raining, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. This was from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, followed by a quick pass past Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial, the Princess Diana Fountain, then a sprint back to the hotel for my bags and a train ride to Heathrow.

Someday I would like to get to London to visit and roam and stay for at least 24 hours, maybe even 72. It could happen.

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 23)

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. We got lucky and saw Alex Rodriguez’s final game & a huge thunderstorm. Day Five was “museum day,” starting with the Guggenheim.


On the lower levels of the Guggenheim as I wound my way down we got into the more “traditional” classic paintings.

Paul Cezanne, “Bibemus” – I absolutely love that one bright blue dot just to the right above center.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “La femme a la perruche”

Edouard Manet, “Devant la glace” – all these dudes loved painting women, which is great!

Edgar Degas, “Danseuses vertes et jaunes”

Claude Monet, “Le Palais Ducal vu de Saint-Georges Majeur”

Pablo Picasso, “Le homard et le chat” – there were multiple pieces by most of these classical Masters, but this one by Picasso still cracks me up every time I see it. “Lobster and Cat”? Aside from the unique and amazing style, the concept and the expression on the cat’s face are just hilarious.

(Click to enlarge to full size)

No one was really dressed up for their visit, which was absolutely fine! Outside it was in the 90’s with 90+% humidity the whole time we were there.

Who knew that these guys had first names? I thought it was just “Monet,” “Degas,” and “Renoir.” Just like it’s “Elvis,” “Tiger,” and “Pele.” All so unique that they only needed one name.

One last look at the ultimate piece of art at the Guggenheim, the amazing architectural wonder created by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Another place I could have spent all day and then come back for more a hundred times. But, this being my first trip, if it’s Sunday we have a dozen more things to do, so that will have to wait until the next trip. Oooh, what’s that, another museum down there? Why yes, yes it is! Let’s start swimming through the heat and humidity down 5th Avenue!

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 22)

FaceBook, for all of its faults and horrors (of which there are many), does do a good job of reminding you of big events on the anniversary of those dates. This week’s it’s been telling me every day that it was five years ago that we were in New York City for the first time. Which, of course, has triggered all of my recovering Catholic guilt and Calvinistic-style Puritan work ethic about one of the larger hanging chads from this site – the “New York, New York” series of photos and narrative from that trip.

On October 23, 2019 I wrote for “New York, New York (Pictures Day 19)”:

When last we left our plucky heroes…

For those of you who are relatively new to this site, in the “old days” I used to post a lot of long, multi-part posts with pictures from various trips. (Use that “search” box over there to look for “Shanghai,” “Seoul,” or “Kyoto,” or look through everything in the “Travel” category.)

Over two years ago things got very busy in the “life” category and the travel series I was in the middle of (one of my favorites because the trip was so great and I had SO much fun on it) was showing off my first trip to New York City. Part #16 was posted on 18-May-2017, part #17 on 11-Jul-2017, and then part #18 didn’t post until 01-Jan-2018. Part #19…never got posted until today.

Let’s see if we can get back to resuming some of those earlier collections of posts. I enjoyed them.

I got part #20 posted in November 2019, then #21 in December 2019, then… Well, back into the void for another nineteen or twenty months. (It seems there was something going on and tying up my time and attention for the last nineteen months, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.) Anyway, now that I’ve got FaceBook harassing me as well (so to speak) and those posts are triggering all of the memories… As Arlo Guthrie said (more or less), “This time with feeling and four-part harmony!”


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. We got lucky and saw Alex Rodriguez’s final game & a huge thunderstorm.


Day Five was museum day for us. A quick cab ride down 5th Avenue alongside Central Park brought us to the Guggenheim.

The iconic shape was there, but frankly it seemed smaller than I expected. If I should have learned anything it to not judge a book by its cover.

It’s a magical place, and not just because it seems so much bigger on the inside.

This time we rode the elevator to the top and I walked my way down. Next time I’ll try it the other way.

Levels 4 and 5 had an exhibit called “But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Africa.” With today’s headlines it seems to continue to be relevant. The piece shown above is called “Flying Carpets” by Nadia Kaabi-Linke. I found it simple but so fascinating. As the air currents in the room moved the pieces about gently the views through the bars were extremely complex and rhythmic.

In addition, the shadows on the walls had their own patterns and rhythms. The piece was inspired by the illegal street vendors from Africa and Asia who sell their wares in Il Ponte del Sepolcro in Venice. They must be prepared to gather up their wares and flee at a moment’s notice, seeking safety in both a literal, physical sense, but also in a more metaphorical sense.

“Study for a Monument” by Abbas Akhavan is built from bronze casts of plants in Mesopotamia, symbolically burnt, charred, and fragmented by war in the region for thousands of years. The placement of the casts on the linen sheets on the floor reference the way bodies are displayed in makeshift funerals after disasters or military or terrorist attacks.

From Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige this 2015 work is called “Latent Images, Diary of a Photographer, 177 Days of Performances.” It looks at the use of archiving and documentation for historical narratives, in this case concerning the Lebanese Civil Wars from 1997 to 2006.

Each book contains rolls of undeveloped film. While we don’t see the visual content contained on the rolls, each book has extensive detailed notes describing each photo contained but hidden.

This piece from Kader Attia, “Untitled (Ghardaia),” is a scale model of the Algerian city, sculped in couscous. The portraits are of architects Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, who used the Mozabite architecture native to Ghardaia without ever acknowledging the source of their inspiration. Also present is a copy of a UNESCO certificate designating Ghardaia a World Heritage Site.

Given my art background at UC Irvine, I loved all of these for their unique characteristics. Next, on the lower levels, the more traditional collection of paintings.

 

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Las Vegas Strip Panorama

Was it already three weeks ago?

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Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part Three Of Three

About two weeks ago we spent a couple of days in Palm Springs and we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto. Once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail – I had thought that I was going on a 15-30 minute quick day hike (which would have been the Nature Loop) but instead took the longer, more difficult loop. After about 40-45 minutes I had made it to the top of the ridge overlooking the Coachella Valley and the first four of five “notches.”

Finally headed more or less down hill after Notch Four, but still on a rocky trail with some slightly tricky footing.

The rock formations up here were wonderful to look at and roam through. Proof here that a little bit of a crack, a little bit of water, and a little bit of freezing can bust open the biggest boulder.

More rocks and trees and fallen trees.

Finally the path starts to level off, widen, and get less rocky. Much easier walking.

Notch Five, the last of them, with the haze moving in and the clouds lowering.

Down in the flats at the north end of Long Valley.

Now I just had to get back to the ranger station at the bottom of the ramp from the upper terminal of the aerial tram…

…and then up that ramp. At least the rocks and trees were always wonderful and relaxing to look at.

And I’m back at the upper terminal. The approximately 300 feet gain in elevation going up the ramp wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

Of course, I also had the sense this day (FINALLY!) to stop about a dozen times to catch my breath.

Every time I stopped, rotten little ten-year-olds skipped and ran up past me, taunting me. It’s okay, just wait fifty-five years and see if they’re still skipping and running. Little monsters…

If you’re up for a moderate day hike and in the Palm Springs area, this one’s pretty nice. I took just under two hours to do just over two miles total, but it wasn’t a race and I had a great time!

Didn’t even get sunburned! (Wore a hat, it was cloudy, and I had sunscreen.)

Remember to bring water!

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