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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Aug '17

Trip Report: Day Two On Kauai – Fabric and Booze

Another morning of up early – so VERY odd. Well, early for me. Nine.

Another morning of an “odd” breakfast. Today it was Ahi Poké. Yep, raw fish for breakfast.

First stop of the day was Vicki’s Fabric in “downtown” Kapaa – well, old-town Kapaa. Got some 50% off fabric:

Not what I was expecting, got four yards for less than $20. More than enough for a shirt or whatever. Saw some other Japanese/Hawaiian prints that were interesting, not enough to pull the trigger.

Where I parked to get the fabric store really tells you about the “rental car culture” of the island – it’s rag tops and Jeeps – rag top in my case. Mine is in the middle with the top down:

If you notice that cloud to the left – I should have put up the top. I got back to a wet car after 15 minutes of shopping.

Next stop was a little train ride:

This is the Kilohana Plantation railroad – a narrow gauge track on 108 acres of demonstration fields of various plants.

They actually have three of these small diesel locomotives. The one pulling this train, one in the shed for rehabilitation and this one:

Looks like they need to put same gravel down on those new tracks! Some detail shots:

Off we go!

And soon, we get to stop and fed the pigs, asses, cocks, and goats.

Located on the same grounds is The Koloa Rum Company:

Where I signed up for the 2pm rum tasting, where we mixed our own Mai Tai’s:

Along with several other samples, finishing with a little rum cake!

And there is a house to tour, which also has a restaurant (I’d like to try their Ruben).

On the way back to the condo, another fabric store (nothing I wanted to pay retail for), but there was a great old theatre across the road…

Got back to the condo, took a nap, took a picture of a flower….

And made dinner:

Yep, recycled last night’s dinner!

Another rough day in Paradise. OK – it’s nice, but it isn’t paradise to me. Nice to visit – wouldn’t want to live here.

[? ? ?]

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Aug '17

Trip Report: Day One On Kauai – Thrifting and Supplies

As anyone who travels with me knows that I’m not an “early to bed, early to rise” kinda guy – but that was the case last night.

My admission is that my “breakfast” was the last half of last night’s Double Quarter Pounder – I’d ordered the Quarter Pounder Deluxe because it had more salad on it, but took what I got – and got two meals out of it.

Before I go further – let me show you where I’m staying, which would be the WorldMark Kapaa Shores on Kauai. The view:

The interior, already messy!

Today’s mission is hitting a couple of thrift stores, and stocking up the condo. Found two thrift stores in the Kauai town of Kapaa where I’m staying.

It took a little looking to find the first since I looked it up on the web and didn’t bother to actually use the GPS on my phone…but what a score it was!

I was happy to give them my money – even happier when they said that if I gave a donation of $1, I’d get 50% off on everything!

Five shirts later (including TWO Tommy Bahama) I was out the door for $32 and some change. WOW.

Next up was one that was actually closed, but found another one just back up the road next to where I had lunch.

I got the “shrimp tacos”, which oddly, came with chips and salsa (which I took home) at The Shrimp Station…

The tacos (good, but messy) are hiding under the chips.

Don’t know the name of the thrift store – but picked up another TWO Tommy Bahama shirts, including an EMBROIDERED one for $9 each. I was so excited by all the shirts (which is what I came for), that I forgot to check for cargo shorts that don’t come below my knees.

Here are some shots of the shirts:

Embroidered on the upper left. Bottom two are going to people who better fit the size… and the whole stash!

Yep, got another couple of “Cocktail Hawaiians”! Here is a closeup of the embroidered one:

The embroidery would make its original cost in the $200+ range (not bad for $9). Downside, it’s thin fabric, and is a small amount of fraying around the upper lettering. I’ll still take it!

Here are a couple of shots of the “ride” that Dollar gave me instead of the Corolla:

Hit Safeway for groceries for the condo, once again hitting the bargain sections….

And who would have thought Finish Butter would be the cheapest “real” butter when you don’t need a pound:

After all the shopping, I grabbed some more shots of the grounds of the condo…

And this charming plate on a tree:

And then there was dinner….

But then, there is the computer setup to keep in touch.

And a sunset.

Life isn’t too shabby.

[? ? ?]

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Aug '17

Trip Report: Kauai Bound

The plan was to just hang out for a couple of days travelling solo – and then it sort of started to become a different trip, with more photo ops…so much for one post for the trip!

Got to the airport WAY early – but it was a free ride. A buddy who is not parked in my front yard is flying to Iceland and Greenland for work, so they paid for the Uber.

And the Alaska Lounge is now serving Yakima Valley’s Travari Rosé Bubbles – no need for me to order bubbles with a splash of cranberry.

Worked out well for both of us – free ride for me, free access to the lounge for Whitaker.

Here is a shot of the new lounge at the end of the C Concourse, directly above my gate of C9.

I even had enough time to call T-Mobile and change my plan to their new “Old Far Two-line Plan”….

Which has a nice view of the tarmac, even a 747-400 freighter with a livery that reminds me of a Red Bull can.

A bit of chaos at the gate – totally full flight, TONS of small children, oddly, no wheelchairs.

But I’m in seat 1D (but swapped reluctantly to 1F so a family could sit together) and they even gave me Kid’s Wings…high quality metal with two pin holders…

As we were queued up to take off, saw one of the Amazon Prime Air 767’s takeoff!

Drinks, then hot nuts, then the salad course (Icelandair, you could learn something from Alaska and their service up front):

Then the main:

Then dessert:

Then a Mai Tai that was mostly vodka (at my request, because the mix they use is WAY too sweet):

Arrived fifteen minutes early, got my luggage, got to Dollar to pick up my Toyota Corolla (or similar mid-size car), only to discover this is what they gave me the keys to!

Off to bed, it’s been a long day, and I’m settled into the condo for the next four nights.



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Aug '17

Trip Report: Final Trip To Whistler This Summer

Managed to score some additional nights in lovely Whistler this August – one might in Creekside (where we spent two nights in two different rooms last trip), and three nights at Cascade Lodge, where we parked the last trip.

Lunch stop just after the border in Cloverdale. Boston Pizza was the choice – last time I was here was with CaddyDaddy when he was alive:

Steak strip French Dip, tasty, as was the salad…

You might have heard that there are wildfires burning in British Columbia – the smoke getting as far as Seattle and beyond. Here is the first example of the smoke. First photo is from previous drive up:

This photo is from the trip’s drive up:

I’ll post later about pictures of the mountain valleys, earlier in the summer, later in the summer.

Shopped for our veg and eggs in Squamish (cheaper than Whistler, and we brought all our protein) and some wine – but the grocery store in this hippy/hiking/biking/snowboarding/skiing town has a dispenser for growlers of Kombucha:

About our first night’s lodging, I love the BBQ and room size at Creekside, HATE the stairs. No way to avoid them, and we were on the first floor which is actually the basement floor, reception is on three. And it was the first night, so coolers, all the food, drink had to go down (and back up) lots of stairs.

That said, it was a nice place…

Living room above, second bedroom below…

And the SECOND bath:

And we had a nice meal….

In the morning, we repacked and headed to Whistler Village.

And up to the mountain we go!

Here is Mags playing with his tools!

I contrast these photos to late July’s photos of what the air was like:

And back to the present…

Talked Mags into appetizers and drinks at Christine’s – which wasn’t open my last two trips up this summer:

Great time around the mountain… one day we went to Pemberton, and a museum!

Our adventure done, back to the condo, with me going up the hill for lunch, and a wine flight:

And when we leave Whistler – it ramps up for Red Bull’s Crankworx. They are already assembling the video platforms.

No wonder rooms are tight for the next week!

Up to the top, across the Peak-2-Peak, and back into the welcoming arms of Dan, the bartender.

Who after he poured by BC VQA tasting flight….

Arranged for a little “amuse bouche”:

That is a lovely slice of paté on that crostini courtesy of Chef. Soon to be followed by the Vietnamese Pork Burger….

As you can see, the rosé vanished quickly.

Look at these photos – serious smoke in the air. Once again, my hiking has been thwarted.

Compared to late June….

Crazy wild difference.

Tonight’s dinner was leftovers, cleaning out the fridge – then out of the house a little after ten in the morning with a stop at the mining museum (too cheap to actually buy a ticket):

So, in the parking lot of the museum, there was this beautiful car camping hack – a 4″ black pipe mounted to the roof rack with a fill nozzle and a spigot to attach a shower to. In the sun, the black tube heats the water, and you get at least a warm shower in the afternoon. Brilliant!

Got into Vancouver around 1PM and Mags dropped me at Steamworks Brewery to meet up with Solus+. Got there early – ordered a Manhattan. What else!

And with Solus+…

And we both had the same meal – seafood chowder in a sourdough bowl with a small Caesar:

Wonderful meal, but it’s off to the train station to catch the 5:30pm to Seattle…didn’t know they had a Nexus line! I was business, so I would have gotten the same expedited service, but it’s nice to know:

Being the first one in line, the lady (turned out to be the Business Car attendant) gave me the best seat on the run – 1A, window, wheelchair blocked 1B.

Some nice views on the way home, and more than a few drinks….

Sadly, the train was running 45 minutes late into Seattle, AND I arrive at the station in the middle of a Mariners baseball game letting out. Total chaos. How far do I have to walk before I find a Lyft/Uber with non-premium pricing!

Made it home, made it to bed, for tomorrow, it’s off to work.


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Aug '17

Home Report: Oysters And Art

Three cheers to my dear friend Anne for the opportunity to see the “hard to get tickets” exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum: Yayoi Kusama – Infinity Mirrors.

Anne was already a member of the Seattle Art Museum (as I was, years ago), and LOTS of people are joining JUST to get tickets for members nights which they have added twice a week due to demand.

Today was a work day for me…in theory until 5pm, but there is always the last minute, “oh shit, they close in five minutes”, of our customers (and we love them). Tonight, is was two last minute customers (one who bought a miscellaneous case of wine, the other, the $10 white we were sampling) engaged in a political discussion about our recent mayoral election, and how it would shake out. One is a political pundit, the other works for a business journal – and it was a seriously interesting take on current affairs. If people are buying (or even chatting), our doors are open. We are Merchants, after all.

Was a tad late getting out of the shop, but got downtown, circled a bit, found “princess” parking across from the museum and half a block from my favorite (but expensive) restaurant downtown, The Brooklyn.

I got there 20 minutes before the end of happy hour and I ordered like a madman. Happy Hour $7 Manhattan (Evan Williams was the Bourbon), and mini-crab cakes, followed by a half dozen Daybob Bay oysters:

And I had another half dozen oysters and another Manhattan before Anne showed up. I’d preordered a Manhattan and crab cakes for her since she would arrive shortly after happy hour ended (6PM). And, apparently, in 45 minutes I can drop $80 at happy hour prices.

But this evening is really about the art – Anne and I in front of the Seattle Art Museum!

Those are the legs of “The Hammering Man” to the left of us.

Anne grabbed four tickets, so we MUST have a group shot!

So, about the exhibit…timed tickets. Smaller numbers for member nights, but still lots of people.

Seven installations, most of which you get 20 or 30 SECONDS to immerse yourself (and two other people) in. You are shown in, your time, the door opens back up and you leave, to stand in line another 15+ minutes for the next installation room.

Lots of static art scattered between the installation rooms….

And then, there are the rooms… Phall’s Field, which reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland trip:

And remember – 20-30 seconds in the room, and then a lineup for the next…

Next up is Anne (and mine’s) favorite – Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, which I realized there was a video mode on my phone:

We popped out of the LARGE line to go see Dots Obsession…

And rejoined the line ten people behind Anne’s friends who didn’t bug out, to see Infinity Mirrored Room – All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkin, which no photography is allowed and only two people (and a security guard) are allowed in for their 20 seconds. This is a shot from the brochure – so SOMEBODY had to be in there photographing!

Next up were a couple of porthole exhibits with much shorter lines. First up, Love Forever:

If you look close, you can see me in the mirror image.

And the cousin to Dots Obsession, The Macrocosm Within – Portal View:

This will give you a feel of that chunk of the gallery space:

Then, to the final room – The Obliteration Room where you were given a sheet of stickers to apply at random. I zeroed in on the Princess Phone.

Can you find the Princess Phone in this photo?

Fun exhibit – wish the rest of the museum was open for this after-hours event – but there is interesting art in the lobby…

I begged off of more cocktails and food with the gang to come home (safely), make dinner, pack, and post.

For, tomorrow is another adventure.


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Jul '17

Status Report: A Decade Of Posts

Today marks the anniversary of my first post – July 30th, 2006. Ten years’ worth of posts.

The first post was short (http://blog.unclemarkie.com/2006/07/30/seattle/). I’d come in from my house on Lopez Island in the San Juans to stay overnight at the apartment I shared with the now deceased Swanda. I was headed to my first ever trip to China, to meet up with The Colonels who I’d met a year or so earlier on the cruise from Lisbon to Antarctica.

Sadly, it looks like most of the pictures have vanished from the early posts. I believe that I had them on a cloud service started by people I knew at Microsoft, which was eventually sold to Nokia and shut down. I have the archives, and someday when I’m old and grey I’ll go back and update the posts.

One of the things I remembered about that trip was that airfare was only $100 extra, and there was no single supplement on the Yangtze River Cruise, Xian Warriors, Beijing tour. Once I was there, we all realized why it was so cheap. Not the hotels, which were 5-star luxury, or the boat (also luxe), it was that it was like 110 and muggy. Think several changes of clothes a day. Still had a GREAT time.

This might be the first post in years without any photos.

Here’s to the next ten years.

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Berkeley To Get Some Work Done

An old 737-700 on the flight to Oakland – no outlets, no extra legroom for rows 7-12 (I was in row 6 which does have extra leg room since its bulkhead) and a completely packed flight.

Got my one free cocktail and nursed it – and they gave me the fancy chocolate too!

So, old plane, and no boarding bridge – the infamous Gate 12A/B/C/D:

Thankfully, it was a sunny day. It’s a miserable way to board a plane.

The boys were there to meet me at the airport – and thankfully provide me with a breakfast sandwich. I’m starting to rely on those snack boxes in Premium Class!

With my early departure, it was nap time for Uncle Markie…

But, as always, the food at the Lunetta/Onyx palace is marvelous….

And this was leftovers! I’d eat it again and again.

Having dropped off a case of wine, it was time to go to BevMo and fill my suitcase:

Wished I’d brought the new credit card to put that on that I need $3K in spending in the next couple of months. Still, WAY cheaper than Seattle.

Got a bunch of work done during the day, just in time for another FABULOUS at-home meal – from scratch (well beyond my skill set).

I am soooo lucky!

And the WINE!

I’ve dated guys that weren’t around when that wine was made – well, probably not, but close.

I’ve got a late flight out of SFO, and Lunetta kindly gave me a ride to the BART station at Ashby. Since I’m flying Virgin America, I don’t have lounge access even though I’m a Board Room member, seems to not extend to Virgin flights. Thankfully I’ve got a pass for the United Club one terminal (through security) over.

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder, a little salad, a cocktail, some newspapers….life is good.

Nice club – only been open a couple of years.

And they even have one of those snazzy Coke Mix Your Own Blend dispensers…

Spent a couple of hours there before heading back to Terminal Two where my Virgin America flight is leaving from. To get to the gate, walked past an Admirals Club – odd that they won’t accept my Virgin ticket, just Alaska ones but by this point I was just a few minutes from boarding.

Terminal Two has (at the moment) an interesting display of old typewriters, including a couple of Japanese ones:

Actually booked a First Class ticket since it was only $160 – and they ARE comfortable seats:

And a nice amount of legroom:

For some reason I didn’t get a picture of the “Protein Platter” – other choice was a Thai Chicken Salad – and after that, they brought around a tray of Dean and Deluca treats.

Life isn’t bad.

Didn’t get home until almost midnight, luckily I don’t work this Friday.

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Headed Home, Bye, Bye To The South

Had to get up early today (another reason for sleeping in yesterday). 6am alarm as I wanted to be out of the house by 8am for the long drive from Richmond to Nashville.

Here was our route this week:

We did a little drive through for our breakfast after a piece of toast with The Colonels but pretty much drove straight though. I looked at the mileage on the rental car receipt —666 miles. Guess that makes it the Devil’s Handiwork.

Got checked in a walked over to a different terminal to get us into The Admirals Club so we could eat and drink free food and booze. Pretty comfortable:

Badly lit picture, sadly.

The return flight was less full than our incoming, both Rache and I had the seat next to us open, and being in Premium Class, the booze was flowing.

Makes me glad I didn’t drive to the airport. Much safer to grab and Lyft home.

Sadly, Rache has stuff going on in the morning so out the door he goes for his four-hour drive home.

Me, I’ll get to sleep in tomorrow as work isn’t until 1:30pm.

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Kentucky, Day Three

Oh, the joys of sleeping in. And sleep in, I did. Made it to 10am. Rache had advised The Colonels to not worry about me, that I’d gladly eat leftover biscuits and gravy. Luckily, the gravy was simmering when I padded downstairs in my bathrobe for coffee.

No picture, sadly – but MY they were tasty!

What I did get were some exterior shots of The Colonels Southern Hospitality base they call, Frog Hallow:

After I’d showered and shaved, we were off to today’s distillery, about 45 minutes from The Colonels in the town of Danville. Wilderness Trail Distillery is the name, and once again, showed up at 15 after for an “on the hour” tour. We went off and explored the countryside a bit before returning. Even found a little tobacco growing (sadly, not “wacky tobaccy”:

Back at the distillery:

Loved their sink stand in the bathroom – of course, I would have had it open up, in the form of a cabinet. No room in my current house for it.

Here are some shots from out tour – starting with the lab, which is unusual in that it was the original beginning of the distillery – they made under contract lots of yeast for various distilleries, troubleshot other people’s yeast problems – and now offer master distilling courses. Cart before the horse, as it was. For Wilderness Trail, they use a “sweet mash” process where is where all new yeast is used in the batch, as opposed to a “sour mash” process that holds back a portion of the previous run.

It all starts with the grain:

And then the cooking in the mash and still room:

That’s a lot of creamed corn!

All of the corn in their product (minimum 51%) comes from fields less than 30 miles away.

This is their centrical force proof safe where I had a sample of the 132-proof white dog:

And here is their bottle line – defiantly low-tech.

They are due to release their first bourbon this December – having aged it four years – that’s how young this distillery is. Th current releases are a dark rum (local sorghum) aged in old Four Roses barrels. They will switch to their own used barrels starting in December when they bottle their first Bourbon.

The tour and tasting was $7 (free for active/retired military/police/fire) and included a free shot glass.

One the way back to The Colonels, we stopped for an afternoon snack – and something else Rache had heard of, but never tried:

Yep, a rolling White Castle food truck. Makes me wonder if the pad they are working on is going to be the new home of a White Castle Burger stand.

Or other stop was a return to a Liquor Barn because I’d seen an Old-Fashioned glass with a retro Indiana postcard image on it at the store in Lexington.

I didn’t see any on the shelf in glassware, but I must have had a puzzled look as staff came up to help. She found a pair in a gift basket, which she gladly cut open to sell us just the glasses. GREAT customer service! And yes, they did have 32 Craft Beers on tap – I barely got Rache out of there since you could buy and try.

Before long we were back in our temporary home, each of us taking quick naps since The Colonels had invited neighbors over for dinner. At this point, I let Rache take over since neither of us have pictures, and he is more eloquent than I, and I’ve included his observations of yesterday’s visit to Barb as well:

Besides bird-dogging booze, Markie also included some visits of people he has known through his extensive travels. Barbara recently moved to a new (to her) home in Lexington. Even tho’ she was in the middle of a kitchen remodel, Barbara took time to greet Markie and me. Those two had a chance to catch up while I slowly made friends with Barbara’s dog Petey. It took a while form to feel comfortable with us, but he finally did. That pooch is full of personality.

And we ended up spending two nights with Eric and Kate. They are retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonels and are just full of Southern hospitality. The first night, Kate made a southern dinner of fried pork chops, green beans, fresh black-eyed peas, summer squash, and some stuff I’m forgetting. It was all delicious. We finished the night sitting outside and observing the fireflies. 

The next night, after Markie’s and my visit to Wilderness Trail, our hosts invited some neighbors to a lovely dinner party. I gotta tell you, this evening was like a festive scene out of Steel Magnolias. Kate outdid herself with putting together a lovely spread for nine of us that culminated with a stunning key lime cheese cake that she made. It was all just over the top amazing. 

Kate and Eric were incredibly gracious hosts and comfortable to be with. Friday morning felt like saying adieu to longtime friends. And I’m now Facebook friends with the neighbors.

I had worried that Rache wouldn’t have a good time – but I think I can put that to rest!

Eventually we headed to bed, as an early alarm was going off for me (another reason to sleep in yesterday!).

Tomorrow we are headed home, many things unseen, a reason for another visit.

[? ? ?]


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Jul '17

Trip Report: Kentucky, Day Two

Once again, I’m out of bed before I’d like. The hazards of planning a trip with multiple sites to visit each day.

Rache went for his usual morning saunter, and then had the leftover ribs from last night. I stayed in bed and then had my ribs and mac cheese. Pretty good breakfast. The Microtel advertised a continental breakfast, but, they too, had a vat of gravy – sadly, not enough biscuits to go around.

First stop today is the Buffalo Trace Distillery which produces more bourbon than anyone else, under about thirty brands. Pappy Van Winkel, Buffalo Trace, Sazerac are a few – think they have Blanton and Weller as well. If you click on the link it will take you to a list of their brands. This place is HUGE:

And they let you wander around before/after the tour (which is FREE!).

As usual, tours are on-the-hour, and we show up 45 minutes before – just long enough to have missed a tour. At least we got to wander.

Our tour guide is a retired Boeing employee from Cle Elum – he was amused that a couple of Washingtonians were on the tour:

Off we go to one of the aging warehouses. Unlike Maker’s Mark (and many other distilleries), Buffalo Trace doesn’t rotate its barrels from the bottom to the top – they just use whiskies from various levels in various brands.

Next up was the building that they hand bottle all the Blanton’s Whiskey:

Everything is done by hand; filling, labeling, wax sealing, bagging, and boxing.

But, what we are really waiting for it the tasting at the end of the tour. We had two choices between four samples. I ignored the vodka and the white dog (unaged whiskey) and went straight to the Buffalo Trace and the Eagle Rare.

The poor kid at the end of the bar was Italian, and didn’t turn 21 until next month – he got root beer, which they also make. Like I said, I went for the whiskey!

It even came with “dessert” which was a Bourbon Crème, that had it not been free, I wouldn’t have tried – but it was good – especially with the bourbon laced candy they were handing out. Unlike Bailey’s, it’s real cream and needs to be refrigerated after opening.

Sadly, they wouldn’t let me into this room with their most expensive products:

We needed a little lunch snack, and since it was National Hot Dog Day, we swung through a Sonic Drive-In since they were doing dollar dogs. Sorry – no pictures of us chowing down on cheap dogs.

After Buffalo Trace we were off to Woodford Reserve. Rache and I had been drinking Woodford Reserve on the flight out and I wanted to show him the distillery, but more important, the drive to get there which is through gorgeous horse country.

Yep, those are million-dollar HORSE BARNS; heated floors, the works.

We got to Woodford – of course, 15 after the hour. We opted to not take the $14.00 tour (or $8.00 for just the tasting), took a couple of pictures, browed the gift shop and left. These will give you an idea of the place:

And one of the barrel-aging houses nearby:

Next up was a cocktail visit with Barb – my travel agent for Princess Cruises. Out of kindness (and laziness), no photos of her “new to her” home since it’s in the middle of moving in and a kitchen renovation. She has a dog, Petey, cute as heck, that, of course, Rache instantly bonded with.

The is the part of the trip where all my friends come into play – and our next stop is at The Colonels, who last I saw in Santa Fe last November.

Don’t we look all comfy!

No need to haul the luggage upstairs – make the stair climber do it.

And speaking of comfy – look at our bedroom. Thanks Colonels!

The evening meal was one of southern hospitality — fried pork chops, green beans, fresh black-eyed peas, summer squash, and some stuff I’m forgetting. Needless to say, we slept well.

One more full day of exploring, tomorrow.


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Jul '17

Trip Report: Kentucky, Day One

As is usual when I travel with Rache, he is up and out in the morning while I sleep in – though today, not as late as I’d like. Rache went to a Waffle House nearby, I opted for the free breakfast at the hotel. Nothing like biscuits and gravy to start the day!

Our first stop in Bowling Green, Kentucky is at the site of the “real” Bowling Green Massacre (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, CLICK HERE). The fake one was a Trump spokesperson’s talk of radicalized US Iraqi’s plot on Bowling Green. In a humorous twist of irony, click on this link: https://www.bowlinggreenmassacrefund.com/ — which if you go to donate, you are taken to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) site to make a donation.

A massacre DID occur in Bowling Green – when a sink hole opened under the National Corvette Museum and swallowed nine pristine Corvettes – so our first stop is to the museum.

Lots of pretty cars….

And a few crumpled ones that the museum decided not to restore…

And here is the site of the massacre….

The yellow line is the cave outline, the red, the sinkhole line.

And you can even pick up your new custom ordered Corvette at the museum. The factory is on the other side of the freeway – sadly, factory tours are cancelled until 2019:

That was a fun couple of hours! And if you needed air for your tires, the Michelin Man was stationed in the parking lot:

In hindsight, I wish we pocked our head into the classic car sales lot next door:

Next, we headed to the Corsair Distillery in downtown Bowling Green – but the tour wasn’t for almost an hour so we opted for the Historic Railpark and Train Museum that we passed on our way into town:

Luckily, we tagged along with a tour that had started a couple of minutes earlier…

We got a tour of the engine:

The mail car:

The dining car:

There was also a sleeper car:

And the President’s Car (president of the L&N railroad):

Along with getting to see from the outside several other cars awaiting restoration, including a hospital car:

And what they call “The Jim Crow” car which was divided into Whites Only and Blacks Only seating:

The caboose is refurbished, and rented out for birthday parties and the like:

After the tour, we walked through the museum proper:

Once again, we are off schedule for doing the Corsair Distillery tour, and I need food! Biscuits and gravy only last so long. Hello Gerard’s Tavern:

Yeah! A full bar! Sadly, the bartender is the manager who said, “I’m the guy that hires the bartenders and I don’t put one on for lunch service.” But it wasn’t bad – the Old Fashioned that I have in DancingBear’s honor.

And the food was great – I had the fried chicken sliders, the right amount of food for me:

We were still early for the Corsair Distillery tour, so we poked around:

Turns out, we got a personal tour – as we were the only two on it:

These are the two still they use for their vodka and gin like spirits. All the bourbon production has moved to Nashville now that craft distilleries are OK in the city.

This is the mash bill for making their gin…

And warehouse storage:

And high-tech bottling line. All the labels are hand applied:

Fun tour, but now it’s time to head to Louisville…and sadly, a two-hour backup because of a big rig rollover…

Tonight, we are the Microtel Hotel on the edge of Louisville, Kentucky. Oddly, no photos. Not as nice as the Baymont, but it still had a mini-fridge in the room.

I DID get photos of our dinner at Mark’s Feed Store – a BBQ place:

Rache and I both got the same thing – the 6-rib basket. Comes with two sides. Sadly, we could have shared one order. We maybe could have skipped the fried pickles – but I always have to try them:

And the 6-rib meals…

Because we were first time customers they kicked in two slices of buttermilk pie (a little sweet for me) and a bottle of their mustard-based sauce. Too bad they didn’t have a full bar!

Back to the room and our usual routine. Rache in bed early, UncleMarkie watching TV into the night.


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Jul '17

Trip Report: Headed To The South

Well, it’s early Monday morning and Rache and I are headed to Nashville (though not staying there).

I got the luck of the draw with one of the only three seats vacant next to me:

Rache was less lucky:

But we were in Premium Class on Alaska, so that means free cocktails (and a little snack box):

Landed a little early and it was off to pick up our rental car, or shall I say, mommy-van:

It was a buck more expensive than the compact, and much easier on old men’s tushies.

Nothing special about our Baymont Inn & Suites room in Bowling Green – about an hour up the road from Nashville in Kentucky:

And we stocked up on supplies at the local Liquor Barn before checking in…

Couple of cocktails and it was off to dinner at Pub by Novo up the road a bit, across the freeway:

Hot, but not hot enough to not eat/drink outside. A Manhattan for me, a local craft IPA for Rache:

Followed by the fish tacos for me, and a wedge salad and an order of buffalo wings (not shown) for Rache:

Back at the hotel, Rache was asleep long before I, but he actually sleeps better with the TV on which worked for me.

Tomorrow, our sightseeing begins!



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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Six – The Way Home

Shuttle showed up a few minutes early, but it was still an hour + to the airport. Smooth check-in, duty free, currency exchange – leaving with $130+ dollars in my wallet from cashing in Icelandic and Danish Kroners.

Lots of Iceland-made booze in the duty free:

And a last Iceland Hotdog should I need it:

Before you know it, I’m back in the lounge…

Eating a couple of rounds of food….


I anyone wondered about WOW, the OTHER Icelandic airline, they are definitely BIG here:

Boarded and moved to a window seat before we took off – more room to spread out on the empty seat next to me…

This would be the weather we are taxiing through….

I left the above uncropped to really get the feel for it.

Once in the air, the food starts rolling in….

That’s lamb shank on the bottom, rack of lamb on the top. Life is hard up front.

SADLY – I have NO photos from my time in Minneapolis, which is too bad, because it included a ride from the airport, a lovely home meal with old friends, drinking, cigars, and a nap before heading back to the airport. It was too short a visit. 7pm on the curb to 5:30am back to the curb.

Hungover, I report back to the airport and a crazy security situation – thank goodness for TSApre, but even that was convoluted:

No lounge here – well, there was a United Club, which I have a pass (or two) for, but wasn’t there early enough to make it worth using one. Instead, I opted for a quick donut to tide me over until the flight.

Lots of good looking restaurants at the airport:

But, it is definitely EARLY in the morning…

Back on Alaska Airlines, I’m back in my favorite seat (1C), and enjoying a nice breakfast meal:

And by 10:30 in the morning, I’m in one of my favorite places….

I had a nice long nap, for tomorrow I work.


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One Response to “Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Six – The Way Home”

  1. Mick Westrick Says:

    Iceland has beautiful lounge food!

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Six – Exploring Reykjavik

I did a little exploring after I got checked in since the sun was out, so, this is the church just steps away from the hotel:

Love the stringy clouds behind it. Just a couple of shots exploring the city…

And then I got an email from my buddy JoeLin – it is his last night in town, dad’s in bed, he has a car. “Come for duty-free drinks!” And he did:

Much cheaper to hang out in the hotel chatting and drinking. Had we gone out for drinks, beers are $10 and cocktails $20, and they only have four liquor stores in the entire city.

Of course, it also meant I was up really late as well.

I got up for breakfast, and since it was raining (what a difference a day makes), I went back to bed. By the time I got up, it was down to an annoying drizzle.

Here is the church today:

My goal today was to find the hot dog stand that Bill Clinton made famous (and recommended by JoeLin) and to grab stuff for dinner.

In retrospect, maybe I should have ordered two – but I was off to the Bonus Discount Food store for dinner supplies:

Got some more city shots on the way back to the hotel…

Yes, they are everywhere and I saw a lot of locals making purchases…

Which brings us to the topic of food, and how bloody expensive it is to eat out in Reykjavik. Here are a couple of menus. If it says 1,000 Icelandic Kroners, just knock the last two zeros off for a USD price.

Yep, $12 beers, $19 for Irish Coffee

Hence, why this is my dinner tonight:

I think I pointed out in previous posts that it stays light really late in Iceland…and that means even churches stay open into the evening (until 9:30pm) which meant I got to stick my head inside the one near the hotel

Sadly, tomorrow at noon they are having an organ recital – but that’s when I need to be at the airport.

Bye, bye, Iceland.


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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Five – Return To Iceland

Three stops from Malmo’s Central Station to the Copenhagen Airport – and soon, I’m in the lounge – sadly, the lamest lounge of the trip. It would be the SAS Lounge, NOT the SAS GOLD Lounge. The only open bar is wine and beer on tap.

The Argentine Red was…ah, well, not the best, the Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc a little better. But just a little.

Light and airy…

With space for me to spread out and work.

And a really amazing cheese cutter crank thingee…

I had some of the curry soup (with a latte) …

As usual, what I needed was a nap….

A couple of interesting things in the shopping arcade…a Lego Store (Denmark is the mother ship for Lego):

And a smoking zoo – a place where you are on display dealing with your addictions…

And even outside of it, you could smell the cigarette smoke.

Unlike the way over, which were both 757-200’s, the return is on 767-300’s:

The 767 has 2-1-2 seating in “Saga Class”:

Yep, that’s a seat with aisle access on both sides that still doesn’t recline all that much:

For our flight, we start with this once we are up on the air:

Yep, whiskey, Pepsi, Champagne. Life is hard.

I’d booked the shuttle while I was in Malmo, so all I have to do was swing by the booth and pick up a boarding card – coming in from Denmark, no immigration to deal with so it was off the jet and onto the bus…

On the way into the city (45 minutes), passed a few amusing things – IKEA:

Swedish meatballs anyone? And the Penis Museum which I went to year’s ago on the recommendation of Leo Starfucker Sunshine:

Got checked in to my expensive “shared bathroom” flat – located in the city center, the only reason I sprung for it.

On the upside, right outside my door is the communal kitchen for the floor:

This is what almost $200 a night gets you in the middle of the city.

That meant no money to go out to eat, so I popped around the corner to the mini-mart for a little “heat and serve” dinner:

To go with my duty free and diet.

At least, unlike my visit last week to Iceland, I had a desk to use!

Tomorrow I’ll do a little exploring….

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Four – Malmo

For some reason, Hans was an hour early in our get out of bed and get to the station time. So I caught a train an hour earlier! Yes, me.

The return to Copenhagen and then on to Malmo, Sweden is a little simpler, but slower – direct to Copenhagen on the direct train with more stops. Get another ticket to Malmo and stay on seven more stops. It allowed me to restock liquor at the train station.

Hans drove me to the train station, helped me get my ticket and get settled in:

Aase made me sandwiches for the trip, and packed a couple of Diet Cokes:

I think that what I really needed was more sleep:

There was an odd announcement at the first stop in Sweden. If you were getting off here, please have your identification ready:

But, apparently for the rest of the stops in Sweden, you didn’t need to. Immigration control with a LARGE loophole?

Malmo is just an overnight stop for me, and it quickly becomes apparent that I should have maybe stayed a couple of days – for the hotel room, if nothing else:

The hotel was walkable (15 minutes) from the Central Station (once I got my bearings). And it was a pleasant walk through squares and parks:


Had dinner at the hotel because there was a note that if you signed up for their frequent stay program you got 20% off your food. SIGN ME UP!

A lovely burger, fries, and an Aperol spritz! Your basic $20 burger, $10 cocktail, and 20% off.

As far as breakfast was concerned, it was included. And it included LOTS of children – dozens of under 6. I’d noticed the buffet last night had a short buffet line for the kids – that should have tipped me off.

As I was checking out I did inquire about the large amount of children – the answer was, “yes, in summer, LOTS.”

A couple of stops on the train and I was to Copenhagen’s airport headed back to Iceland.

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Three – Excursion Day Three

Today is my final day of being a tourist in Western Jutland, Denmark. No nightlife, other than my own, but I doubt I’d have seeked it out if there were.

Hans is an amazing archivist – he was able to easily pull out a photo of the Fourth of July that he, Aase, and Jonas (their son) were in Santa Fe, and I’d driven down to see them while they were visiting my parents.

That would have been Miata number two – the Black and Tan model. Since I didn’t have much time off from Microsoft, we drove straight through from Seattle to Santa Fe in 26 hours. I think it took 30 hours to drive home at a more “leisurely” pace.

But enough about the past!

Today’s big adventure is to the just opened (10 days ago) Tirpitz Museum which the main exhibit (they have three, plus a rotating one) is on the Nazi’s Atlantic Wall – a series of bunkers and tank traps that was supposed to stretch from the top of Norway all the way to Spain.

The bunker has always been exposed, but the new museum was hollowed out from the sand dune so that from a distance, you don’t really see it:

That would be the museum on the right.

And there are slits, reminiscent of anti-tank traps for the entrance.

As you can tell, it was a gorgeous day, neither of us in jacket or sweater. A bit of an odd queue to get our tickets – you could buy your entrance or your beer from the same person. Some rope stanchions would have been helpful.

Since there is a LOT of material to cover, EVERYONE is given a listening device to point at the RFID enabled plaque, and get the story behind the exhibit.

Since it had just opening, it was a little on the crowded side (and, it was also a Sunday).

From the history of the Danish Coast, a real liferaft which would be manned by 10 beefy sailors

And from Denmark’s largest display of amber (Gold from the Sea), we have a Sydney Opera House model (architect was Danish) done all in amber:

For me, it was the bunker that was the main draw. Seems that IKEA wasn’t the first to come up with standard components – the Germans had 400+ standard designed that you could mix/match depending on how big a bunker you were building. Standard designs that centered around everything being built using concrete. The Army of Concrete was the nickname.

Maybe that’s we the entrance bands were glow in the dark, as the bunker itself was dark by OSHA standards:

Having had our history dose for the day it was a little further down the road to the lighthouse:

When my sis and bro-in-law were here a couple of weeks ago (before the museum was open), they had gray skies and drizzle. I like my weather better. And so do the people on the beach and in the dunes.

In the distance, you can see Esbjerg and the wine turbines in the water.

And more bunkers…

The view back inland gives you a feel for how all of this is built on sand dunes:

Our afternoon complete, it was back to the house for a cocktail (for me):

Hans and Aase waited for the wine we had with a dinner out:

It was a quite drinkable Lodi Zinfandel, but notice line “Wine of the United States of America”. A look at the back label showed that it was imported AND BOTTLED in the EU by an Italian producer. Apparently, it’s quite common to bring wine in large container-size stainless steel vats and bottle it in Europe. Guessing that then they send Spanish and Italian wine back to the US.

We all had the Weiner schnitzel at the restaurant. It was good, but there was a lot of it!

I had pondered the Mussels and Chips, but it was pointed out that the mussels no longer came from Jutland because of over fishing/harvesting.

Another after dinner walk by the beach – where some hardy young men were swimming (think water the temperature of Puget Sound):

Back at the house, we opened a second bottle of wine for the evening – ANOTHER California Zinfandel – 7 Deadly Zins, one of my mother’s favorites while she was alive. He’s came from Trader Joes, Hans bought his from Trader Joes corporate overlord Aldi, who has stores in Denmark in addition to their massive holdings in Germany.

This shot also gives you a feel for the upstairs living room with a view to the sea.

Tomorrow I start the process of getting back home, with a couple of stops along the way.

Yes, it’s going to be a long, strange trip.

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Three – Excursion Day Two

Woke up to a cup or two of coffee, followed shortly by the daily spread of meats, cheeses, bread…very civilized.

Today’s expedition is to a local Environmental Learning Center – at least, that’s what we would call them in the states. Very tranquil place…

The have a small unmanned museum that goes into the history, flora, and fauna of the refuge.

And some goats looking for a handout…

Winding our way back home we stopped at another park…that stretches from the sea for a mile or so, a greenbelt:

The white orbs of different sizes are the path lights (and things to jump on for the children).

The sun comes out for a bit when we return so that we can sit outside before dinner:

And another marvelous dinner it was – with a shrimp and avocado starter…

Followed by a pork tenderloin stroganoff…

After dinner, Hans suggested a walk the beach:

And a tour of the local architecture, including the “brutalist” style home and office:

And less brutal examples….

Detail of the thatching for the roof:

More examples on either side of the brutalist:

The ones above are just across the road from the beach, the ones below within a couple of blocks…

And even one property that was at the heart of a neighbor dispute over size, and had sat partially completed (with approved plans) for over eight years:

Guess that would be the payback for the complaining neighbor – a decade of an open sore next door.

It is the same neighborhood as yesterday’s first church.

It doesn’t get dark until after 10pm, and tonight we experienced a “close to” full moon – the before:

The after:

Another fun day in the less travelled (at least by Americans) part of Denmark.

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Three – Excursion Day One

I guess I should explain who Hans (and his wife Aase) is – Hans was our American Field Service foreign exchange service student when I was in junior high. We’ve (as a family) kept in touch all these years. As a funny coincidence, my sister and brother-in-law were here just a couple of weeks ago.

They live is Esbjerg, which is on the western Jutland coast, and home to plenty of wind turbines, and is the base for Denmark’s North Sea oil business, so you’ll see lots of rigs in for maintenance and repair. More on those later. They’ve a lovely Danish Modern house with a view of the sea:

As is my usual way, I’ve slept through breakfast, but am definitely alive for brunch:

My sister-in-law explained the routine when they were here.

  • Up for breakfast
  • Explore the neighborhood and sea coast
  • Lunch
  • Hour nap
  • Go off and do “the thing” for the day.

I’ve just truncated the schedule a little as I stay up later and get work done with its normal West Coast hours, then sleep through breakfast.

Today’s “thing” started with a modern church, built around 25 years ago:

And very modern bell tower:

Very light and airy inside:

With a massive freestanding organ:

So, the Lutherans church (Hjerting Kirke or the Church of Hjerting) was designed by Alan Havsteen-Mikkelsen in close cooperation with engineer Soeren Abrahamsen. THANKS, Hans, for the correction.

So, those were the Lutherans, next up, the Catholics:

The Catholic Church was designed by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, who also designed the  Grande Arche of La Défense in Paris that the Arc de Triomphe was the inspiration for his modernist design. He got the commission with only the Esbjerg church in his portfolio, and he used the same “aeriated concrete” material used in the Esbjerg church.

Next up on the town tour is the Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre was completed in 1997 to designs by Jørn Utzon and execution by Jan Utzon.

None of the venues were open, but the lobby was stunning, and it is in the same complex as the Esbjerg Art Museum, possibly to “oddest” museum I’ve ever been to considering you had to thread your way through the building, only being able to access the first floor wing by going up and crossing over, and going back down.

One interesting feature to make more of the collection available was walls of art that you could pull out:

There were some pieces in the temporary galleries that were…visually disturbing, not in content, but physically. Spaces that were violently white that altered your depth perception as you got used to the light, forms appearing where there had just be blinding white.

It being a port town, there has to be a water tower (which is next to the performing arts hall):

Quaint city center:

A tall ship in the harbor:

The boat still trains Danish Navy cadets, though most of the harbor is now devoted to refurbishing North Sea drilling rigs, which I’m surprised I don’t have a picture of as there were dozens – you can see a couple of the upper bits back behind the tall ship.

Back to the house for what would turn out to be a stunning series of meals. This one if a free-form bacon-wrapped meatloaf – too funny as I do these at home, but in a loaf pan (I might have to reconsider by forming):

With sides of potatoes, gravy, broccoli…I am being spoiled!

Several bottles of wine and we retire upstairs to chat into the evening – though to bed MUCH earlier than last night for my hosts (closer to their usual bedtime). This was taken well past 10PM:

Not as light late as Iceland, but later than Seattle at the same local time.

One of the things that came up in late night chat is that Hans has a picture of him in the mid-60’s with Oscar Peterson in a trio performing:

That is a YOUNG Hans in the upper right-hand side of the photograph. Hans is quite the collector of Jazz music.

Off to bed, we have another adventure tomorrow!

[? ? ?]

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Jul '17

Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Two

My overnight in Iceland has come to an end. Here is my example of the weather here. Damp and windy:

Shuttle was on time at 9:20, and I was SHOCKED that by 9:50:

  1. Arrived at the airport
  2. Checked my bag
  3. Gotten through security
  4. Bought Duty Free Bourbon
  5. Arrived at the Saga Business Class Lounge

Really, in just 30 minutes.

And what a lounge it is – just opened in the spring:

Even has shower rooms:

Breakfast was out when I got there:

And then they put out lunch – I might not be hungry when they feed me on the plane!

Or thirsty…

This was about all I could handle for “lunch” after my breakfast:

Two meatballs, a fish cake, a samosa, some egg salad and a cocktail.

Even the rest of the airport has that cool Scandinavian feel to it:

Funny thing I found on my boarding pass – do the math:

Board at 12:50 for 13:00 departure – gate closed 15 minutes prior.

And my flight to Copenhagen is, once again, lightly populated with 4.5 people (.5 is a lap child) out of 16 available seats:

No amenity kit on this leg, but they still offered the nice noise cancelling headphones (not for taking home). The cocktail course:

Complete with a box of Vikur – a pretzel mix (that I stashed in my backpack for another time). And lunch:

That would be the cold lunch of reindeer sausage, reindeer pate, salmon, bread and pudding. And damned tasty!

Icelandic Air does have a sense of honor in their onboard product – the saying stitched into the blanket:

And pillow:

Got an OK shot of our approach:

Flight was almost an hour late leaving REF, made up a little time in the air, but not enough for me to catch the quick train connection from the airport (even though mine was the first bag off) to Esbjerg in the western part of Denmark.

Above: the airport station. Below: the central terminal.

And comfortably settled in for the final leg:

With a wonderful Danish sunset with wind turbines:

Hans was there to pick me up at the station – only 30 minutes past when I’d hoped to get there. I’d been sending him email updates on my progress, so no need to pick up the phone for 20 cents a minute. T-Mobile gives you free text and roaming in 140+ countries – and cheap minutes if you need to chat.

Even though it was after 11pm when I got to the house, the made a plate of sandwiches for us all, opened a bottle of wine (then another). What a wonderful greating!

[? ? ?]


2 Responses to “Trip Report: Originally It Was Saigon, Part Two”

  1. Kate Gowins Says:


    Why is the text so small????
    See you soon here in the Bluegrass


  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    Check you browser settings, I haven’t changed anything on the template — I’m I’m TOTALLY looking forward to seeing the two of you next week!

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