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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Tue
4
Dec '18

Trip Report: Waikiki!

Time to head for sunshine…but first, got to bottle the holiday Cinnamon Brandy…by Christmas the liquid will be a dark mahogany color:

And get the wine shop’s
wine club boxing started – and I get to do it in our new space (so I can actually start it on a Sunday while the shop is open):

Some hiccups, but easier than last month.

Off to the airport in the morning…no upgrade (sigh). I hit the lounge, but bought the sandwich onboard since it’s a five-hour flight:

The Granola Bar is a freebie are a perk of Premium Class (along with doubles of Woodford Reserve) is a and the JcoCo Chocolate is a perk of being either an MVP Gold, or MVP Gold 75K.

Since I just had smaller carry on, I opted to take the “cheap” way to get to Waikiki – TheBus, the local city bus, a whopping $2.75 and an hour of my time. You can do the airport shuttle, or 808-EXPRESS for a direct transfer if there a couple of people. Don’t know what the UBER would be, but there is service.

I got into Waikiki in the early afternoon – and they gave me a choice of rooms that were ready:

  • 23rd floor, no lanai (that’s deck in Hawaiian)
  • 7th floor, lanai

Uncle Markie always loves a deck.

Not much of a kitchen (microwave, fridge, toaster, coffee maker, but plates, glasses, dishes, etc).

The closest grocery store is a dozen blocks away, and I’d rather have food now, rather than later. Headed down the street to Cheeseburger Waikiki, which used to be Cheeseburger in Paradise, but are still under the same corporate umbrella.

I started with some weird drink special of whiskey, gin, orange juice….

One was enough, and I ordered something for the starter menu, the Cheeseburger Sliders – still a lot of food. Should have taken one home for breakfast!

Headed back to the condo to just hangout and recover from the trip – nice view:

And plenty warm:

Yes, there are Speedos involved.

Wonderful pillows meant a wonderful night’s sleep – so I could get up in the morning and revisit a place Bliss and I had breakfast on our trip here: IHOP for the 55+ Menu.

Next up was another local bus ($5.75 for the full-day bus pass) to the Salvation Army because it’s Senior Day which is a 15% discount. I usually am able to find nice Aloha Shirts at a great price. I DID find some finds, at .50 each – and one of them a TRUE FIND.

Yep, the middle one is a PanAm glass, the other two, Hawaiian Airlines.

Across the street at Ross Cross Dress For Less…

Oh, I bought a new small carry-on suitcase – I started the trip with a Hawaiian print small duffle with a shoulder strap – I wasn’t even to the Alaska Lounge in Seattle before I realized my mistake. I needed something small enough for the city bus…but with wheels.

On the way home courtesy of my “all-day bus pass” was a stop at Food Pantry for a little pupu stuff for dinner – go Poke!

Here are some more pictures from my deck, but during the daytime…

And some of the Royal Gardens amenities….

The next noon thirty I was off for a Wyndham Timeshare presentation…Wyndham is the parent company of WorldMark, where I usually stay, but they have no places in Waikiki so I traded points with The Colonels for this stay, and my next one – which, as part of the tour, was a two-bedroom deluxe upper floor at the Waikiki Beachwalk – sadly, next door to this:

But here is the Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk property…

And some nice additions…

And the view….

For the ninety-minute presentation I got a $125 AMEX card, and a tour of the type of unit I’ll have the first week of January when I’m back in Waikiki with DancingBear.

Next stop was at CVS to see if I could transfer a prescription that I had two doses left – and my pharmacy in Seattle, while truly wonderful, is only open Monday-Friday, and I’m on the road M-F this week and next. Since I’d just changed insurance, I wasn’t sure….but they said they’d text me when it was ready.

Across the street was a Tommy Bahama, with a bar on the second floor and a restaurant on the third… a little snack was in order. Turns out their happy hour was 2-5. Woohoo!

With a decent Manhattan ($12.50, not Happy Hour pricing):

A great view:

And KILLER Two For $10 Mahi Fish Tacos!

The “signature” coconut prawns were good, but next the tacos…..

Turns out both the CVS and Tommy Bahama are just across the street (and down an alley) from The In Between (and the porno store upstairs):

Dinner tonight was going to be the Wailea Coffee Shop….which Rache and I ate at on another visit…now closed, along with Hy’s Steakhouse next to the Royal Garden. Lot’s of “old school” restaurants seem to be closing. I ended up at the Korean place across the street sub-street-level. Korean Kang Nam Style BBQ Yakiniku.

I should have just ordered a “Highballu”, because the concept of whiskey and Diet Coke (they served Pepsi) barely made it through translation:

But it was served with Kim Chi! And some interior shots:

I ordered the BiBimBap in a stone pot:

Nice to have some more vegetables in my system.

Waikiki, being a tourist Mecca, you have t-shirt shops with Obama’s picture, saying, “Miss Me Yet?”, and this:

Oi.

The next day found me poolside:

And then back in yesterday’s neighborhood to check on my prescription (it was ready, but no text), and another stop for Fish Tacos at Tommy Bahama – this time I went for the Happy Hour Cocktail of a Vodka Martini (which my mother claimed, “There is NO such thing as a VODKA martini!”). It nicely came with small olives, but they were stuffed with Blue Cheese – rest in peace Swanda.

Sadly, check out at the Royal Garden is 10AM. Meaning I ate some cubed papaya, and got back on the city bus to the airport – and with no checked luggage, soon I was in the shared AA/JAL Lounge with a Hot Asian Buffet!

And a “pour-it-yourself” bar!

With a nice view of the Japanese Garden that is in the middle of the airport:

And even bidets in the loo!

Before long I was back on the plane, yet again, not upgraded…but free cocktails, and thanks to Jonathan, a ride home from the airport.

Another week, another journey.

[? ? ?]

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Sat
24
Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – The Return Home

Yet another night with only a couple of hours of sleep before leaving to the airport. Good thing my body clock is broken…and that there is a lounge in the Barcelona airport that I have access to:

Must have been tired since I didn’t even take a picture of the place!

The ugly truth about “Business Class” intra-Europe just means that the seat next to you will be open – no extra legroom, MAYBE a better meal.

It was a short hop, but not much time in the lounge in Zurich.

Just enough time to grab a cocktail, slam it down, and head to the gate, which is too bad since they were doing made-to-order small plates. Sigh.

Next leg is Zurich to Los Angeles, a nice long flight, in what turned out to be, not as nice a pod as Air Canada Business Class. Yes, it’s a lay flat bed, it’s just cramped.

But there was champagne before takeoff:

And soon enough, booze and food started appearing….the starter:

The main (I went for the Pike):

Cheese course:

Dessert:

Watched a couple of movies:

…before settling in for a couple of hours of sleep before getting rousted for lunch, which I got the pasta dish, even though I’d requested the other, but seeing the other, I was glad I got the wrong meal!

Coming into LAX International, on a Star Alliance Partner, and leaving on Alaska, there is going to be a terminal change – fortunately, I allowed plenty of time to pick up my bag and drag it half way across the airport to end up in the Alaska Lounge chilling my heels for a couple of hours/drinks/bowls of soup/salad.

Final flight meal of the day was in First on the LAX-SEA leg:

Warm turkey and gouda with tomatoes – these are DAMN TASTY, but I was pretty full from the lounge, so I ate half, and wrapped the other half up for tomorrow, and they gave me another whole one because they had extras. That was my work snacks for Saturday and Sunday at work.

Home before midnight, into the shop to open at 11am.

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Fri
23
Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – The City

Day one in Barcelona, found RayA making us a late lunch snack…

Simple but wonderful! Afterwards, I headed to bed for a two-hour nap, while RayA had a French lesson, and then went to the gym. It was a nice way to ease into the city.

I was fine just hanging out at his place, no desire to use the provided keys and explore the neighborhood – with an apartment like this, why leave:

And my bedroom, complete with its own small deck…

Not as big as the deck off the living room!

Speaking of the deck, great place to hang out and have a cocktail…or grill some lamb, which was dinner:

And a great bottle of Greek red wine!

It was a VERY late evening of catching up and doing major damage to the bottle of Woodford Reserve I brought.

Even a simple breakfast with RayA is a classy affair….

I could get used to this.

The afternoon found us on a walk through the city. Yes, 5 Guys has invaded Barcelona, only a block or two from RayA’s flat!

But there is also a centuries old market with any kind of foodstuff you need:

This this was walking distance from MY HOUSE.

The final destination was to help a friend of RayA that owns a bar/restaurant (Gilda by Belgious.):

It was time for a deep clean and organization of the bar – brought on by RayA doing a guest stint as bartender a couple of weeks ago:

A deep clean and standardizing all the glassware, tossing out a good third of it.

We celebrated with a FINE bottle of Cava when we were done:

Here are some random tourist shots from our walk to and from:

It’s times like these that I wished I’d booked more time here.

More sightseeing in the evening, in RayA’s vintage Mercedes 230SL ragtop:

We did a circle around the Gaudi Church (Sagrada Família), still in construction after 120 years, and due to be completed in 2026 – and the finally got their construction permit!

Apparently, it’s hard to get a ticket to the interior without reservations months in advance. Maybe next trip.

Hunger called, and off to a tapas place we went.

Food was great, Raya commented that it should have been cheaper if it weren’t so close to the church.

I close with a final shot of the car….

The ride back to his turned exciting when the transmission stopped transmitting power…we limped home in second, only to find once we were in the garage, there was no reverse either. Time to push it into the spot:

As we were pushing – I noticed large amounts of red fluid on the floor – as in ATF (auto transmission fluid). On the bright side, I didn’t see any metallic flecks in it, meaning he just blew a seal (and not a Navy Seal).

My last full day in Barcelona was notably low key – went out for lunch (at 2:30pm) to a new place around the corner that his concierge gave him a coupon for. Desayunos was the name. Still tracking down a link as the restaurant as it seems to have new owners.

The first bottle of wine (included with the price) was undrinkable, like they’d “married” open bottles of the wine and served it a day later.

The second bottle was freshly opened, and much nicer.

Guessing that this wasn’t what they usually provided, but we happily finished it. Food was good and plentiful, but the service was not. They were out of several items on the menu, couldn’t get AMEX (even though they had table tents advertising they took AMEX) to run after it took us forever to get the check.

We stayed for an additional round of cocktails when we noticed this outside:

It was DUMPING rain outside. Even though we were just around the corner from his flat…drinking sounded like a drier idea.

RayA had rum (below), I had a gin and tonic, which the Spaniards serve in a balloon glass.

We headed back to the house, where we both took a little siesta…

It was a quiet evening at home, which was good, because I needed to pack and get out of the house at 5am. Oi.

Think I’ll be back now that I know TWO friends who at least live in the city part time.

[? ? ?]

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Fri
23
Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – Getting There

A birthday in Barcelona, though not mine. Thank would be RayA. It was just an excuse to catch up with him as he turns 55. Ah, youth.

Used 120,000 United mile and less than a hundred dollars in fees to get Business Class tickets – with the exception of the Frankfort-Barcelona leg. Here is what the routing looks like:

Some might say that’s a lot of travel for just three nights. It’s doable if you are up front. FYI, it was 14,118 flight miles. And you start in the lounge. I get access to the United lounge when I’m on international itineraries with Star Alliance because of my lifetime Gold Premier status (United Million Miler).

Then to another comfortable seat….1D

This is an Air Canada flight, and look at the amazing Steve, my flight attendant!

He brought me a lovely meal after a round of drinks:

Had just enough time in Toronto (we were running a little late) to grab a bottle of Woodford Reserve from Duty Free and get to my gate for my Frankfurt flight…and the digs are MUCH nicer on this long haul:

Yep, a little more room on this 777-300ER. Sadly though, no Steve, but bubbles before we take off:

Followed by nuts and cocktails:

The salad course:

The main course:

The cheese course:

And finally, dessert:

Watched The Royal Tenenbaums on this flight (I watched Love Is Strange on the way to Toronto) and grabbed a couple of hours of sleep in the lay-flat bed, and awoke to this:

Looks suspiciously like my breakfast on the flight to Toronto, though in true Canadian fashion, added a Caesar (that’s a Bloody Mary made with Clamato), while keeping track of the flight:

Arrived in Frankfurt for a longer layover, and immediately headed to the lounge for a refreshing shower!

And the lounge was CROWDED with early morning fliers. Notice the Air Canada pin Steve gave me?

Arrived in after a leg in coach from Frankfurt to Barcelona, only to arrive at what is called a “Hard Stand”, which means you walk down stairs to the tarmac. Then into the terminal for a long snaking walk through the “shopping mall” to get to the far end of baggage claim to wait 45 minutes for your bags so you can catch the AeroBus which will take you to RayA’s place (next to last stop – 30 minutes).

Basically, 24 hours door (Seattle) to door (Barcelona) with only 2-hours of sleep the night before, and 3-4 hours during the rest of the trip. Time for a nap.

To be continued, my adventure in Barcelona.

[227.4]

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One Response to “Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – Getting There”

  1. Roxy Says:

    That photo of the skateboarder and the guys at the lunch table are anything but random… I know you too well. xoxo

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Wed
21
Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Tres

I should note that we were in shorts on day one, and in sweatshirts by our last day.

Let’s pick up with dinner on Thursday at Black’s BBQ – we are certainly getting a lot of use out of Uber this trip!

Complete with wine from Texas Hill Country. Yes, wine by the bottle, but out of plastic 16oz. cups – it is a BBQ place after all:

Our final day in Austin (we had a late flight out) was spent partially at The LBJ Museum

Next up was lunch at the Texas Chili Parlor

In the end, we both ended up getting the Hatch Green Chile Cheeseburger with a potato salad side. Yum.

Our final city stop before heading to the airport was the Blanton Museum of Art, which is free with our Ogden Museum of Southern Art membership cards.

Goodbye Austin (State Capital Building).

And this was our final meal of the trip…on the way home.

It was fun. I’ll be back.

[? ? ?]

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Tue
20
Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Duo

Rache was up way before I and was out exploring the city.

I made it out the door to lunch, at a place run by Sandra Bullock’s sister that is part deli, part flower shop – Walton’s Fancy & Staple:

I went for the Rueben and a Burnt Orange:

Stopped by Austin Wine Merchants, had a nice chat with Ian, picked up a bottle of Blue Corn by the Texas Distillery, Balcones – whose used 5-gallon barrels I use to age my hooch.

And I thought Madrona Wine Merchants was stocked to the gills!

Rache brought home fried chicken from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, and I popped a bottle of Chilean wine (since we will be going there in January).

It being election night, we were definitely eating dinner “in” with the television locked on MSNBC and Rachel Maddow. Especially since we are in Austin, and the Beto/Cruz race is tight:

Sadly, we went to bed without definitive results…

Wednesday found us having lunch at Z Tejas – which, as it turns out is on Alaska Airlines Dining For Miles plan!

Pretty yummy food! House margarita for Rache, the Hard Day for me.

Rache ordered the Table Side Guacamole…

I ordered the chicken-fried rib eye, the healthy alternative!

I didn’t finish my vegetables, or the complementary corn bread, so we took those back the condo. Think a meal of various leftovers.

We took a detour after lunch to the amazing “junk” store, Fortney Home…which soon will be moving to a historic building in a small town an hour away:

When I mentioned “leftovers” for dinner, we do them well. Leftover lunch salad from the other day, and from the chicken bones from election night, I’d made stock, bought some noodles, added the vegetable from lunch…. And voila!

The wine was a South American Bonardo…yep, another oddball grape, courtesy of the wonderful wine shop around the corner.

Think I’ll save Thursday and Friday for part three.

[227.4]

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Mon
19
Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Uno

When we made the plans, it was when we both had time open – not looking at the calendar and noticing that it was going to be election day in Austin, and when we made the reservations, Beto wasn’t the buzz that he was on election night.

Rache showed up the night before, and I had to open the lovely bottle Fico gave me in Tucson last week when he brought mixers to my room on the train:

I think that’s a GREAT picture – almost as good as the one from the lounge in the morning….

Or from the plane….

In a drunken booking moment, I’d blown four Gold Guest Upgrades to get us into First…which was good, because when we got to the airport, there were 42 people on the upgrade list!

It was an afternoon flight, so this was our meal:

Still not a fan of meals served all at once, but it was tasty.

Got checked into the condo after an Uber ride…nice place:

 

With a CRAZY long deck – 102 feet of deck, with a minimal two chairs and a side table:

Here is a video condo tour….

One of the nice things about the WorldMark Austin is its location to GREAT food close by – like Ranch 616 (as in 616 Nueces, and we are 801 Nueces):

I had two appetizers….the side of Grilled Quail (something like $6 – a STEAL):

The Don Combo, which is a Half Dozen of Crispy Oysters, Half Crispy Calamari, Chipotle Tartar and Green Goddess, and Pico de Gallo salad:

Rache got the Divorced Quail, which is Quail three ways, One Buttermilk Battered and Fried with Ranchero, One Sugar Cured and Grilled with Tomatillo, separated by Herbed Boursin Cheese Mashers and Sautéed Mixed Vegetables

This is the third time I’ve eaten here, and it never disappoints.

That was our Monday getting to Austin….stay tuned for more details!

[227.2]

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  1. Janet Schilling Says:

    Got a bit dizzy in the kitchen portion of the tour! 🙂

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Wed
7
Nov '18

Trip Report: Beantown

They ask, I visit – when I can. This trip started with a random text three or four weeks ago. The questions was: “When are you coming back through?” My answer was, probably winter, but let me look at fares. And the fare was $237 round-trip Seattle to Boston. Off to the Lounge go I:

And it nicely started with an upgrade!

At least it’s an aisle near the front for the long red-eye flight.

And I learned something new on the Alaska First Class Menu:

The unit of measure called an IBU which stands for International Bitterness Unit (though it also is a medical abbreviation for Ibuprofen). People who like really hoppy IPA (India Pale Ale) want a higher score. Check out the Wikipedia article HERE.

It’s a redeye, so the food is going to be minimal, but it starts with a little berry smoothie….

And then usually, it’s veggies and hummus….but this was a small hot sandwich thing, which I was grateful for:

The problem with red eye flights is that they are red eye flights – my arrival in Boston was around 6am, and with checked luggage I couldn’t even go sleep it off in the lounge one terminal over, so it was:

  • Baggage claim
  • Silver Line to South Station (Free)
  • Red Line to Alewife (Free)
  • Uber to Pucci’s place ($15)

As also is my way when getting into Boston (actually Belmont) is to head straight to bed for a nap – which is what I did in my lovely guest bedroom:

After my nap, we were out the door to Total Wine & Beverage (which isn’t close, but it’s cheap), and then back to the house for a lovely Pucci lunch. Plans to get together with Jill were thwarted by UPS deliveries at her place. Sadly, I didn’t get a pic, so you’ll have to take it from me, it was a stunning lunch.

When I visit midweek, I basically get to see Pucci around his teaching/performing schedule, so it’s catch as catch can. Left me time to wander up the street to The Spirited Gourmet to grab a sandwich for dinner – and to check out the wine selection and look for a favorite Gin of Pucci’s.

I got back just in time to miss the rain storm dumping!

While Pucci was off teaching – I ACTUALLY tuned to TV to watch the first game of the World Series:

Much cocktails and conversation at the end of the game when he returned from teaching and watched them win. Almost felt like I was with Dad watching football!

The following day’s lunch was at The Red House in Cambridge where during the day they feature ½ price oysters for the first dozen – I decided to tag mine with a couple of Maine Crab Cake sliders (and a Manhattan!)

I should have had our server get a picture of all four of us – Jill, Norma (Jill’s mother and wonderful woman), Pucci and I. Seems like I’m missing a lot of “photo ops” on this trip.

Pucci had the entire day off – he rearranged his schedule to move students to Friday and Saturday. THANKS!

With the afternoon free, we headed to a museum that I learned about through the North American Reciprocal Museum group that I get access to through my family membership at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (with Rache). This is the same organization that exposed me to Intuit –Museum of Outsider Art in Chicago a couple of months ago.

Today’s visit it to the Boston Waterworks Museum:

This is actually the back of the building – had to borrow a shot of the front from their site:

Pucci had never been, and I hadn’t either – and they gave up a grizzled mobility challenged docent who was a font of knowledge about not only the equipment in the museum, but the whole Boston area water system. I was glad Pucci was there with his knowledge of some of the public reservoirs. Amazing old pumping equipment in the building, that was only shut down in 1974.

Serious “Steam Pump” at this place.

Jill was back at the house for dinner (after Pucci and I had afternoon naps!), and what a dinner it was, Beef Tenderloin, green beans, sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes – what a meal!

And I can’t forget the special guest, Jill’s dog, Murphy (aka, Murphy, The Wonder Dog):

It was a wonderful quick trip.

The return trip was as cruel, timing-wise, and the incoming – a 7am flight (basically getting on the same plane that brought me here). I was out of the house, in an Uber (under $30) to the airport at 5am.

Oy.

[? ? ?]

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Mon
22
Oct '18

Trip Report: The Texas Eagle

This will probably be the last of my train travel for the year – and this week I’m on The Texas Eagle:

But first I have to get there…in style, courtesy of an upgrade to First Class…

Definitely a red-eye flight…which means the food service is minimal, sadly:

So, when I hit Chicago, I headed to the Admiral’s Club (American) for a bagel, a newspaper, and a little nap:

My train didn’t leave until 1:45pm, so I had time to linger, then catch the train into town, which oddly didn’t charge me – I had a transit card from last week that apparently still had some dollars on it!

Checked into the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago, which I have no pictures of for some reason. Dropped my bags and headed to the CVS across the street for booze and mixers for the train. Returned to the lounge to drop that, then went back upstairs in the station for a world-famous Chicago Dog. Eventually they put out some vegetable and cheese in the lounge – and a complimentary half glass of some way too sweet Asti Sparkling.

Was happy to get onto the train.

Thankfully they at least had the Amtrak Signature Steak – but like The Silver Meteor a couple of months ago, no Surf to go with the turf (they were actually out of both surf AND turf):

One of things about the long-distance trains is that they feed you three times a day as part of your Sleeper fare. My routine on the train is to eat breakfast and go back to bed. I’ve tried skipping it but lunch doesn’t come early enough.

Here are some random shots from the train that I liked:

In San Antonio, The Texas Eagle gets split apart and added to the end of The Sunset Limited from New Orleans. It used to come from Orlando, but Hurricane Katrina knocked a bunch of tracks out – it’s fixed, but the route has yet to be restored. The upside is that we got The Sunset Limited’s dining car, which did have the Surf to go with the Turf.

My last night of this 66-hour trip was connecting up with my buddy Joe from Tucson. This was truly the highlight of the trip – I don’t get to see him often enough.

He was kind enough to even track down some Diet Ginger Ale for me. And he brought me a bottle of whiskey produced in Tucson to top it off!

The downside of this route is that the train arrives into LA’s Union Station at 5:45am assuming it is on-time, which for once, it was.

I hiked up to the Metropolitan Lounge to hang out for a bit before taking FlyAway to LAX. While there, checked my seat for the flight, and ONCE AGAIN they had pulled me out of premium and stuck me in the back. I fixed the problem last night in Tucson when I went to check in and noticed it. 45-minutes on that call, and another 30-minutes to change to an earlier flight that had a premium seat, albeit, a middle one.

At least there is an Alaska Lounge at LAX!

Another week, another trip.

[226.2]

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Mon
15
Oct '18

Trip Report: The Amtrak Cardinal

In my quest to decide if I want to keep investing in Amtrak (time, not money), I’m trying a few of the routes I haven’t tried (that still serve food). The summer it was the Silver Meteor from New York City to Fort Lauderdale. This week it is The Cardinal from Washington, DC to Chicago (it used to start in NYC as well, but track issues have caused it to not for the foreseeable future).

Rache and I started with an early flight from SEA to IAD – and then the task of getting into town by public transit (I was willing to throw an Uber at it) for $11 each (Rache was a little cheaper since he’s 65+). We were in Premium with free drinks and a snack, but sadly, not first – we were numbers 9 and 10 on THAT list. It’s less a deal for Rache since he can sleep in coach, me, not so much. But we arrived in one piece (albeit late) to the lovely (read, practical) Days Inns Washington, DC on Connecticut Ave. Nothing to write home about, but clean, good location, not over the top expensive.

Rache grabbed the desk, but not to worry, I have a travelling table!

Being beat – I suggested we just order in food (the joys of a big city!). We went for Thai from ThaiPad, which was basically across the street. Oddly, no photos. We both got versions of Pad Thai (Rache, shrimp; me, chicken). I wanted something I could eat in the morning as well – no fridge in the room (and no chopsticks with the delivery!)

Basically, it was a comfortable place to crash for a night, close to a DC Metro station (for which I now have a card).

The morning found us headed to Union Station, and directly to the Accela Lounge to chill out until our 11am train.

The lounge offers both Red Cap Service (slow) or a guide to the tracks – we took the later.

We got settled in with the help of our car attendant, Momma J – really DO wish I had a picture of her! She’s been at it for 32 years.

With our before noon boarding – we got lunch.

Please not that that the “silver colored” eating utensils are plastic – and that poor cheeseburger has been nuked. If you are going to do that – DON’T NUKE THE BUN, it comes out like rubber.

Dessert was better than the burger:

Fortunately, you are allowed to bring your own bar when you are in a sleeper (we are in the bedroom), and Momma J kept us stocked with ice:

After dinner I looked at The Washington Post – and realized I should have gone shopping last night while in DC. Evan Williams was on SALE!

Let me zoom in on the important bit….and those are prices for 1.75 liter bottles.

Welcome to our bedroom:

We DID get a good meal at Blackies not far from the station:

Definitely better than Amtrak! Next off we are to a gallery covered by our Ogden membership, the Intuit Gallery of outsider art – WELL worth a visit:

Didn’t get a chance to check out this restaurant, The Silver Palm, which has a train car attached:

Back to the Amtrak lounge we went before the flight…

And the final shot – from the Chicago Airport and a statue of a police dog…

We are done. The food on the train SUCKED. The scenery didn’t – but the food SUCKED! Abandon The Cardinal.

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Sun
14
Oct '18

Trip Report: Cabo For The 62nd

That would be 62nd Birthday. Applied for Social Security a couple of weeks ago – it was an odd feeling.

Spoiled myself by using First Class Guest Upgrades in both directions on what was supposed to be a direct flight. Annoyed that a month or so out they changed it to stopping in California each way. The upside was that 3 out of 4 flights were on Virgin America metal meaning they had more comfortable First Class seats.

First, a stop in the lounge:

See what I mean about the seats?

And the food wasn’t bad either:

And then lunch on the next leg:

Welcome to Mexico!

Met up with Dan and Lisa at the airport for the shuttle to the hotel:

 

To be honest – we were all slugs on this birthday get away – the fact that it was 90 also precluded many daytime activities. We DID do a lot of eating and drinking!

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We were actually down there for a full week. Might have been a couple of days long, but still glad we did it.

Dan and Lisa’s flight was several hours before mine, so I abandoned them in the airport and paid $50 for the Priority Lounge – which was WELL worth it.

The way home was via San Francisco (way down was Los Angeles).

Hellish transfer at SFO – there was no one to recheck my luggage so I had to drag it over two terminals, and by the time I figured out where the Cathay Pacific Lounge was, I’d already used a pass in the “not nearly as nice” United Club.

Didn’t get home until 12:30 – and I’d forgotten my key, so around the back I went to the lockbox in the dark. Took a couple of snags of the camera flash for me to get the combo entered.

Not the best way to end a trip.

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Thu
20
Sep '18

Trip Report: The Big Easy

Months ago, Rache was visiting, and NCIS: New Orleans came on, and by the end of the show we’d booked a room and flights. Same thing happens occasionally when I watch Hawaii 5 0. The shows remind me of how much I like a particular city. At the time I even had enough Alaska Gold MVP Guest Upgrades that we travelled in style both ways after a stop for a Caesar (Bloody Mary made with Clamato) in the Alaska Lounge:

They do make a good one! Almost like breakfast in a glass. Got to the airport ridiculously early so we could get a free ride from Jonathan before he went to work. It also allowed me a have a nice little nap in the room, which was good because I didn’t get very much sleep the night before.

Settled in, and lunch is on the way!

During the trip, I noticed this sign in the bathroom.

So – how I read this is: Return To Your Seat, or Ring For A Cocktail. I’ll take option B.

For some reason, the nuts come near the end of the flight…

And once again, heavy on the almonds, which aren’t my favorites. I passed the pecans to Rache, who isn’t an almond fan either.

The original plan was that “The Colonels” would pick us up and we’d go out to dinner and then they’d drop us off. Plans changed last week as the weather changed – so Uber us into the city!

Got settled into our one-bedroom condo, with Rache graciously taking the fold out couch, leaving the bedroom for me. We did get a great view of the city from our rooms:

Basically, we dumped our bags and headed down the street to Houston’s, which is my standard first night dinner and music to get me into the New Orleans mood:

This might very well be the best French Dip that I’ve ever had in my life!

And the fried oysters looked pretty good, too!

And then there is the sign on the way to the bathroom that I loved:

Per the way we usually travel together, Rache is up and out and exploring during the morning hours while I lollygag in bed – getting together late morning for our lunch stop of the day. A place that neither of us has been before – Central City BBQ:

Got some cocktails ordered…

And some BBQ! I went with the pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, which came with these house-pickled pickles and onions — yum

Rache went for a single rib, sweet corn spoon bread, and roast Brussel sprouts.

We were debating a second round of cocktails when the skies opened up and started dumping rain. Decision made.

After the rain cleared, we headed back in the direction of the condo, but stopped by Dryade’s Market to check out what had changed. When I was there earlier this year, the bar was closed – but today, were fortunate to find it open, and my favorite bartender Kevin, manning the bar.

Found this display at the end of the bar – guessing this can’t be very good wine, though it does come in its own glass:

Headed to our next stop, I spotted some lovely graffiti:

How sweet is, “Tell My Mother I Love Her”.

Before long we were off to celebrate Happy Hour (like we haven’t all day) at Samuel’s Blind Pelican – home of the 25-cent oyster.

A dozen charbroiled oysters ($10).

A dozen raw ($3)

Fried Green Tomatoes.

And dessert – another two dozen on the half shell!

In our quest to try new places – the next lunch was at Bacchanal:

It’s deceiving because from the fence to the right, all the way behind the trees on the left is the wine shop/restaurant.

There is an outside eating/drinking/entertainment area:

We opted for inside, upstairs in the bar as it was over 90 degrees outside:

Where they were also having a wine tasting! Coals to New Castle.

Three UNIQUE wines open – my kinda place!

  1. 2016 Envinate Taganan Vinos Atlanticos Tino
  2. 2015 Bodegas Ordonez Tineta DO Ribera del Duero Tinto
  3. 2009 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Spatlese

Plus, we’d ordered a glass of rosé to go with our lunch:

And then topped it off with cocktails!

Great staff! Including the bartender who isn’t present in the photo:

And they had one of the more amusing restroom signs that I’ve seen:

More running (well, streetcarring) around the city until the heat got to us – headed back to the condo for naps, and eventually some take out dinner – Rache went for the Brother’s Fried Chicken on the corner, I went for the Thai-ish food next door to the chicken convenience store:

It was an early night for both of us.

Our last full day in town is devoted to one of Rache’s favorites, The Dry Dock over in Algiers – which requires a couple of street cars and a ferry:

And, The Dry Dock and their wonderful food. Gator sausage and shrimp bisque for me:

Garlic shrimp for Rache:

Home for a little nap, then it’s off to The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where we are members – for a concert in the atrium, with the galleries open (though our cocktails were banned). OK music, great, thought provoking art:

And decent views of the National WWII Museum from the rooftop deck:

And even of the formerly known as “Lee Circle“:

Took the St. Charles streetcar line towards the condo and hopped off at the St. Charles Tavern, recommended by one of my wine shop customers. Seems we were there on cheap 14oz. ribeye night!

We took the leftovers home with us – and promptly dropped into a food coma.

For our final lunch, we went to Toups South, which is in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (and it has a GREAT used book section). Rache had the cracklings, followed by the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich (which is a TON of food – I helped with the fries)

I opted for something lighter – the Fried Green Tomato Salad, I think, or something delicious.

Bought a couple of books before we headed back to the condo to hang out in the owners lounge since we’d checked out before lunch. We hung out for a couple of hours, both of us napping at points on the comfy leather couches before Ubering to the airport…we were early, but still had to battle Friday “get out of town” traffic.

Back in our First Class seats, too tired to even take pictures of the evening meal.

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Wed
12
Sep '18

Home Report: Projects, Dogs, & Distilling

There is a project that I started in the middle of summer – and then abandoned when the heat spiked – but I finally got it done! A ramp from my back deck to the yard with replaces the rotted-out deck. Now I have easy rolling access from the sidewalk out front to the garage out back.

It’s not that I need a wheelchair, it’s that I need the ramp for moving shit in and out of the house by myself:

The push to final the ramp came because people were coming over for an “end of summer” dog and distilling party!

And because I’ve been home, I’ve been on a jag of making my savory cinnamon dinner bread/rolls:

Must be remembering the original rolls from The Savoy Grill in Kansas City!

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Sat
1
Sep '18

Trip Report: Kansas City

The trip didn’t come off as planned. I made it, but DancingBear had to cancel at the last minute since his dog Buster just got out of surgery the afternoon of the day before we were slated to leave. Buster went under the knife to remove a cup of pea gravel covered in BBQ hamburger drippings. I’m sure it tasted great going down, but not so much in his tummy:

Not only painful to Buster, but painful for DancingBear:

Ouch – but at least he is home and one the mend…

Meanwhile, I’m headed to Kansas City…and while at the airport, saw one of Alaska’s newest liveries, the SubPop plane…

Which also shows you the smoke from wild fires raging in BC, WA, OR, CA – seems that we are getting smoke from all of them. As seen from above:

One of the sad things about DancingBear having to cancel his part of this trip is that there is no one to swap almonds and walnuts for cashews with in First Class (I like the cashews, the almonds, not so much).

Was served a lunch from Alaska’s new “trendy” menu. For some reason they thought I’d pre-ordered the fruit and cheese plate – silly people:

Got to see an interesting view on the landing in Kansas City – the NASCAR speedway on the Kansas side of the border.

Knew it was there, but hadn’t seen it from the air before.

DancingBear had arranged a rental car, but no DB, no car. I texted my buddy Paul before I left, and he was able to be my chauffeur for the visit – with our first stop at a grocery/liquor store in North Kansas City, where they had Verners, but I didn’t really need a twelve pack (or the Yoohoo next to it):

Got checked in at the 21st C at The Savoy Art Hotel, and after a little juggling, got the two queens changed to a king bed on an upper floor. Love the “Do Not Disturb” door hangers!

Maybe I should have stuck with the two beds…would have made for a bigger room.

Live and learn. Nice, but not sure worth $250 a night (though I got a 21% introductory discount which barely covered the 19% Kansas City Lodging Tax).

After she got off work, we grabbed Gail and headed off to CharBar we went. Nothing like starting the trip with BBQ (and a Manhattan)!

Paul and Gail split a couple of things, starting with the grilled jack fruit burger (vegetarian):

And the Fruits and Roots salad:

 

I went for the Pickled Pig sandwich (deep fried pickles and cole slaw):

 

And though we were all full – we split the peach bread pudding – which was stunning:

 

Gail dropped Paul and I off at The Green Lady Lounge for a little after dinner jazz, but to be honest, from all the food, we made it through a couple of songs and a drink and grabbed Uber’s back home.

It’s one of my favorite spots for jazz in KC – just wish I’d had more energy.

Back at the hotel, I found this wandering in my hallway….

Apparently, penguins are “a thing” at the 21st C hotel chain.

The next day brought BBQ with Wendy in Lawrence at Bigg’s BBQ (the favorite of my friend Nita):

I went “small” with the three pulled pork sliders since we have 7pm reservations at The Savoy Grill:

Paul had some massive sandwich thing:

For Wendy, the burnt ends with cole slaw and fries you get two sides, but if you do it right you can end up with four between two people because the big sandwiches come with one AND endless fries:

Paul dropped me at the hotel so I could get a quick nap (which didn’t happen – worked instead), and Gail showed up at six for wine and cocktails in the room before dinner, which we made, and then headed out to check out the modern art on the first and second floor of the hotel (which is open to the public as well):

Even art in the meeting rooms:

My favorite piece in the “Refuge” exhibit:

Then we were off to The Savoy Grill (after returning our drink glasses to the room):

The view from Booth Number 4: The President’s Booth – and of cocktails:

Me: Martini, Gail: Bee’s Knees, Paul: I’ve totally forgotten!

Next up, the cheese plate:

Check out the “retro” dishware:

For drink round two, I switched from a Gin Martini (in honor of Pucci), to a Manhattan:

Paul got a Chocolate Martini (which he had at The Green Lady Lounge as well), Gail, the Kat’s Kimono:

Then the mains and sides started coming…prime rib for me:

Pasta Primavera for Gail (housemade pasta):

Salmon for Paul:

And sides of green beans almandine and creamed corned (which was pretty much mashed fresh corn):

For dessert, the profiteroles!

To go with my Benedictine and Double Espresso – and no, they didn’t let me light the cigar:

In the morning, I tried the room service (and in the restaurant) Biscuits and Gravy (same price as the restaurant [$14] and only a $3 delivery charge)

I was underwhelmed…A) salad with breakfast? B) the biscuit was more dense than fluffy, which had they split it, the gravy would have worked better.

To wrap up the visit to The Savoy, some random shots of the hotel, restaurant, and bar:

Check out was 11am (which I find annoying, but better than 10am). Paul grabbed me from the hotel, and we were off to lunch at The Nelson-Atkins Gallery:

Spent a little time seeing art….

Next stop, the airport – and fortunately, the gift shop was closed, or I might have been tempted by these two t-shirts for Kathy:

And onto the plane for dinner on the way home…

Complete with a couple of cases of BBQ sauce!

Another week, another trip.

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Sun
26
Aug '18

Trip Report: Back To Whistler For Seconds

Once again, I’m making multiple trips to Whistler to get the most value out of my Season Peak-2-Peak pass.

This trip, the midway stop on the way north is Vancouver – which it’s rare to find a room during summer, especially a 2-bedroom!

The trip north was a little smoky, though not as bad as last August:

Anne doesn’t have a Nexus card, so we had to wait for 20 minutes after duty-free (which probably shaved 20 minutes off the wait).

All my other trips I’ve been in a hurry, but this time, since we were only going to Vancouver, I could try out this hotdog stand just north of the border:

Not bad – I got the jumbo polish with the works.

Stopped for groceries and wine into town –here is a view of the condo:

And a nice steak dinner:

Anne even went to a bakery she knew to grab a little dessert!

The view from my bedroom:

We actually got out of the condo at a decent time – arriving in Whistler around 2, meaning even with stopping to get Anne’s Pass, we still had a couple of hours on the mountain.

Sadly, this week is CrankWorx, which means the village is jammed:

But not so much at the top – it’s all mountain bikers in the village:

It was so nice, the new bar had its giant umbrella folded. And the smoke wasn’t too bad (compared to last August):

For our afternoon snack we split a chicken stripes and fries – it would have been way too much food for one person:

Stella for Anne, wine for me.

After our nibble, we set off for the gondolas headed to Creekside, which are open this year since the Blackcomb Village lifts are in the middle of replacement:

 

By the time we got back up to Whistler, lines were starting to form as everyone was headed off the mountain – luckily, I knew about the “Express” lane which means you get one of the dirty mountain bike gondolas, but you get it to yourselves! It the no line to the left.

Didn’t get any pictures of the condo because:

  1. It looks pretty much like the one from last week, and
  2. We are changing units tomorrow

Speaking of tomorrow, well, that would be today now – and Anne took off for the mountain earlier than I now that she knows where everything is. Lines were a little longer today, but no too bad:

And this is the CrankWorx competition park:

And the general smoke level – I wouldn’t want to be competing in it:

Our big item today is the Black Diamond hike to the Whistler Peak Gondola and visiting the suspension bridge:

This triangular viewing platform wasn’t here last month. Pretty cool!

After our mountain peak adventure, it was the grueling trail back to The Roundhouse and the Peak-2-Peak gondola – we are both in the need of cocktails and a nibble:

Christines delivered rather than disappointed this visit. Service was still spotty, and they are still pushing expensive domestic bubbles are the beginning of the meal, but our starter was wonderful.

We then took the Peak-2-Peak back for another cocktail at the Umbrella Bar before heading down the hill for a lovely en-suite dinner of bison steaks and salad. Life is hard:

Anne went out exploring after dinner which ended up being karaoke and buying some gemstones – I was just happy on the couch.

Didn’t get up the mountain our final morning, but we at least got out of the room before noon! It’ important since it’s a Friday and we have a border to cross.

That’s it for this adventure – if you want to see some videos of the Whistler Peak Chairlift or Creekside, CHECK THEM OUT HERE.

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Thu
2
Aug '18

Trip Report: Quick Trip To Hell

Just kidding about hell, but it was Vegas in the summer, and no matter how many people say, “But, it’s a dry heat,” it’s still hot as hell in the summer. More on that later.

This trip was really about just going down to hang out with friends and spend a little time by the pool.

DancingBear went down in the morning (I put the condo in his name), picked up Ric at 3PM, and me, well, I worked all day, locked the door at 5PM and headed to airport for some expensive parking for three days. Didn’t want to miss my flight, AND, I wanted to have dinner in the lounge before my flight:

Got upgraded to First Class (actually, five days before the flight).

Which meant another dinner…

Got to Vegas, hooked up with the boys, and off to the condo we go.

Not a bad room location. Middle building overlooking the Lazy River, upper floor for more privacy. Room location is the whims of how long out you made the reservation and for how many days.

And the view out the front door, of acres of manufactured houses sweating in the heat.

DancingBear and Ric had done all shopping, including for the booze and mixers – Yahoo Boys! Coffee and breakfast ready for me when I got up.

They had friend who were staying on the strip at Aria, but I had no desire to do the strip. I just hung out in the AC with thoughts about going to the pool, but this was the high the first full day we were there:

The boys were having another expensive dinner on the strip, so I ran to the store and grabbed a rotisserie chicken sautéed up with the leftover morning potatoes and a little salad.

Tried going to the pool at 9:30pm, didn’t even bring a towel because it was still almost 100 degrees and I know I’d be dry by the time I got back to the room. And there was so much heat coming out of the concrete, it wasn’t pleasant.

Ric left a day before us, so after we dropped him off, we went to one of DancingBear’s regular stops in Vegas – the Ethel M (as in Mars) Chocolate Factory. He’d offered to take me on previous Vegas visits, but he neglected to mention the Factory Tour part…and the cactus garden.

The factory tour is self-guided, and, of course, it ends in the gift shop.

It was WAY TO HOT to explore the cactus garden – and they even put a couple of gel icepacks in the chocolates that DancingBear bought because of the heat. How hot?

When we got back to the condo, it got even hotter! And with the chance of thunderstorms:

Which meant EVERYONE was out of the pool and off the loungers – an odd scene for the middle of the day, poolside. If you look close, you can see them all under the cabana:

We overbought our groceries…

But, it was still cheaper than one of the meals on the strip…

WAIT – that was the receipt for the booze I’m packing home!

So, our final dinner was a big chef salad with eggs hardboiled, the pupu platter salami sliced, the cheese grated, the chicken shredded, the works:

It was an early breakfast on our final morning as it was an 11am flight with the rental car to return, and then, of course, checking out the Centurion Lounge that DancingBear has access to:

Before long, it was off to the terminal and the wait to board:

We are on Virgin metal going home. DancingBear in Premium, I got upgraded to First, but they have a messaging system which, while cute, is a pain in the ass to use since there isn’t an onscreen keyboard.

Plus, it would kick you out of the video section when you were messaging, so it was multiple menus to get the TV going again – there will be no love lost when Alaska kills these with the new cabin retrofits starting this fall.

Lunch on the way back…

We were back early enough that I was able to bake bread for Wednesday dinner at CourneyMatt – and now I just need 13,143 miles to Alaska MVP Gold 75K

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Sun
22
Jul '18

Trip Report: Wonderful Week In Whistler – Part Three

Well, it’s time for the final day on the mountain – and to beat the crowds we are actually AT the lift entrance just before it opened at 8:30.

I think the trick would be to show up at 8:45 when the initial crowd has cleared through.

We got up the mountain so early that we’d neglected to see what time the trail opened to The Peak Express – turns out it was 10:00, so we had plenty of time to take a Peak 2 Peak gondola ride to kill time. Almost had the gondola over to ourselves, but a handful of people jumped on at the last minute.

We were in for a surprise for our return run back to Whistler – the popular “glass-bottom” car pulled into the station, and NO ONE was in line for it.

We had the car to ourselves! I’ve occasionally had regular cars with just me in them, but never the glass-bottom car. Maybe there is something to be said for getting up early.

Got back to Whistler side and had to cool our heels for 15 minutes or so until the trail opened. Personally, I think they should have given the old men a head start as we were immediately passed by everyone else once they opened the trail.

We are headed own a steep hill to the Whistler Peak Express:

Everybody had passed us, so there was no line at the chairlift, and up we go…

Rache is calm enough on these no to pay more attention to the phone than the scenery…

Here is a short video of our ascent:

At the top, we found the new suspension bridge open:

And some great views:

There was always a trail to the other peak, but it was a serious hike up and down.

Speaking of down, here is the descent off the cliff on the chair lift:

And the view of The Roundhouse from the lift:

Once we got back to The Roundhouse – it was a slow slog for me back up that hill. I would have given a pinky for a PediCab up that trail, we went back down the mountain for a light lunch at the Beacon Pub:

I’d eaten there other years and there was semi-shaded outside seating. And booze.

Rache had the Buffalo Wings – which looked exceptional:

And I had the Seared Ahi Salad:

We split the fried pickles – some of the BEST I’ve had.

Our last stop was at the new full-service bar on the deck of The Roundhouse. What a welcome addition! Which meant going back up the mountain. Thank goodness for the Season Pass.

After our cocktails we headed back to the condo for a little nap before our final dinner. Indian-spiced chicken thighs.

I wasn’t up as early as the day before, but in a couple of hours we were at Duty Free, followed by the border:

Not more than 20 minutes or so delay (would have been 5 minutes in the Nexus lane).

All and all, a fun week in Whistler. I’ve already started to cobble together another trip in August even though there are no contiguous days available. Got to get the most value out of my Season Pass!

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Fri
20
Jul '18

Trip Report: Wonderful Week In Whistler – Part Two

Rache was up and out and on the mountain before I’d dragged my lazy ass out of bed. At least I was out of the condo at 11am.

Oh, what a difference a day makes – yesterday, no lines to get on the gondola, today, 30 minutes of wait time, even with the season pass:

Rache and I kept in contact via Facebook Messenger and decided to meet at the Roundhouse – this was the view today, as they were getting ready to install glass panels on the deck:

Yesterday, you couldn’t see much beyond the railing, today – miles of visibility. Back on the Peak 2 Peak:

To the Blackcomb side:

Back on the bus to 7th Heaven, then the lift up the hillside:

A quick side by side of yesterday and today, taken from the same location on top of Blackcomb Mountain. Yesterday:

Today:

From the edge you can actually see into the bowl to watch people skiing and snowboarding…

Oh, what a difference a day makes!

WOW! Now you know why I come up every summer…it never gets boring!

And back down the mountain we go…the two of us on the chairlift, and at least one skier on the slopes…

And you can see the bus we take back to the Peak 2 Peak:

One of the highlights of my summer trips is to blow a wad of money at Christines – the upscale restaurant on Blackcomb. Great views, and expensive enough that there aren’t many children in the place.

We started with drinks:

Followed by burgers (CAN$28).

I have to say that I was disappointed. The burger, while pretty, was seriously expensive and messy as hell to eat. Add service more interested in pushing glasses of bubbles and more cocktails at a slow pace, might be my last visit for anything other than cocktails and a view.

Back to the Whistler side to explore a couple of lifts that haven’t been open for tourists in previous years. Guessing this to make up for the inability to get down on the Blackcomb side as they replace two open chair lifts with 12-seat enclosed gondolas.

It’s a bit of a hike to the Big Red Express…

If you look closely, you can see the new suspension bridge between two peaks of Whistler Mountain.

I only have a couple of shots of descending into Whistler Creekside, where the other WorldMark is (though it’s a SERIOUS trek to get to the lift).

Tonight’s dinner is lamb with Caribbean rice and beans, and the usual salad.

Another fun day on the mountain! One more to come.

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Fri
20
Jul '18

Trip Report: Wonderful Week In Whistler – Part One

As is my usual summer holiday routine, it’s off to Whistler to enjoy some “hiking”, which for me means the one Black Diamond hike that is the only way to get to the Whistler Peak Express chairlift. But we’ll come back to that – first we have to get there.

I booked Sunday night at the WorldMark Birch Bay, to cut the drive in half so we’d get there in the early afternoon Monday. Decent view from the 2-bedroom unit. The view toward Mount Baker, which I’d never realized you could see from the resort:

And the view of the water:

Not as nice as the 3-bedroom penthouse units at the front, but also not as expensive (and hard to come by).

And I brought us food to cook on the grill since Whistler Cascade Lodge has no BBQ’s on the deck, or even the premises. We split a big steak, salad, baked beans, and a bottle of Uruguayan Tannat I brought back from Boston this spring.

Got a decent start in the morning, and the wait wasn’t too bad at the border, even with Rache not having his Nexus card yet. Of course, our room wasn’t ready, but we walked over to Guest Services and picked up our Season Passes. This makes the fourth (or fifth) year running I’ve been up there with various people:

On the way back, we stopped at Araxis for their happy hour, and still managed to spend a little over CAN$100:

While we couldn’t bring in any vegetables, we did bring in the protein for the week, helping to offset the “snack” above. Tonight, it was pork loin with Cajun rice, salad, and a bottle of Bordertown Cabernet Franc that I couldn’t find anywhere last year.

We got out of the condo around noon – Rache had already toured the village, found breakfast, and basically gotten the lay of the land. Overcast today, so NO LINES at all to get on the Whistler Village Gondola. But the views were a little obscured:

And then onto the Peak 2 Peak Gondola….

When we got to Blackcomb, we caught the bus to the 7th Heaven chairlift to the peak.

And as we got closer to the top, the less visibility:

Yes, there is a ski bowl somewhere down there…you can barely make out the T-Bars coming out of the clouds.

Grabbed this shot on the way down – man was I glad I’d borrowed one of Rache’s hoodies! It was about 34 degrees at the top.

Back we went to the Whistler side…

And eventually back down into the valley.

Tonight’s dinner was a butter chicken, salad, leftover rice, and a nice rosé:

.

After dinner I went down to the pool area for a quite soak in the hot tub. It was NOT to be:

Think twenty 6-10 year-olds.

Weather tomorrow is supposed to be better. To be continued.

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Wed
11
Jul '18

Trip Report: SEA-JFK-NYC-FLL-MSP-SEA

Sounds like gobblely gook when you type it out like that.

Got notice about five days before my flight that I was upgraded from Seattle to JFK in NYC. But, it’s a red eye, so I’d better fill up in the Lounge before the flight:

Alaska’s Lounge has lots of healthy options, and some unhealthy ones like cookies, which I pocketed a couple of them for emergency reserves.

Beautiful night to fly…

Looking forward to the new First-Class cabins coming to Alaska this fall, but for now, same old, same old.

But I do like the bulkhead, so I can put my feet up:

And, as I mentioned, it’s slim pickings for food on redeye flights, but they have upgraded the DigiPlayer tablets to slightly larger, but much better resolution.:

Hummus, vegetables and some pita.

Got to JFK around 7am and headed to the new lounge, which they just opened a couple of months ago. Cool entrance….

Nice views:

Including of the old TWA Terminal, now surrounded by other airport buildings – but being turned into a hotel/conference center (hotel in two attached towers). More information HERE on that project, that when it opens, I’ll be checking it out.

Decent amount of open space…

But, the bagels they served with the breakfast buffet are an embarrassment to New York City:

Hung out for a couple of hours (got an hour nap), before taking the SkyTrain (thanks, Rache, for the pass), connecting to the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) whose onboard credit card machine wasn’t working, so I got a free ride, ending up at Penn Station in NYC 90-degree heat and humidity. By the time I’d gotten to the Amtrak Acela Lounge, I was a hot, sticky, mess. Stopped at Kmart (yes, there is one in the station) for a six pack of 16-ounce Diet Coke as mixer, and then to Penn Station Liquor (also in the station, with a decent wine selection, but more expensive than I remember from my previous visit) for a fifth of whiskey for the trip – I should have brought my own hooch at the prices they were charging, but then I would have had to check a bag AND not gotten to check out the lounge for fear of losing my bag.

Read a couple of newspapers (WSJ and NYT) while I cooled down, before asking the reception desk for a recommendation of a “sit-down” restaurant in the station. The choices were TGI Fridays (no), or The Kaboozs Bar and Grill, which I settled on. Decent drinks, an OK Rueben (grilled bread so it wasn’t a sponge for the “butter” sauce many places grill them with), and service that I have never seen in NYC. Owner/floor manager stopping by to check in, servers other than my own checking in and bringing me things – really, really good.

I had the New York, New York, which is a Woodford Reserve-based Manhattan:

And the Rueben, with very good onion rings!

A little before two for our two thirty departure they escorted us down one floor – reversing an escalator – to the platform to board Amtrak’s Silver Meteor with service from New York City to Miami, though I’m getting off in Fort Lauderdale.

Which, when I went to the dining car for a “bucket” of ice, which turned out to be a “bag” with some ice in it, I discovered that this was one of the new combo dinging/café cars in the Amtrak fleet. More gut room at the tables, LED lighting, totally refreshed interior:

And the kitchen:

Ice in hand, I settled into my cabin…ice in the pull-down sink:

And plenty of leg room…

It was a cloudy, rainy, humid day leaving NYC:

First meal of the day on the train was dinner – where they were out of the Amtrak Signature Steak, and also no seafood cakes for the surf and turf. The least offensive offer off the menu was the chicken breast in something. Boneless chicken breasts always come out dry and flavorless – no skin, no bones, etc. Here is the before:

Here is the after:

Breakfast – yes, I got up at 7am because it was a free meal. This was their breakfast quesadilla breakfast with eggs and salsa verdé, side of sausage. Got a table by myself, which is a rarity on Amtrak with their “shared seating”:

And there was lunch…after my three-hour nap after breakfast. The Bacon Angus Burger with cheese:

I always get my dessert to go…eating it in the roomette later.

Massive rain in Orlando….

And then a $5 cab ride (including tip) to the hotel (Days Inn Cruise Port Fort Lauderdale Airport):

Which was in the middle of nothing.in the way of restaurants, so it was order in. Found an online place and ordered from Sarpinos – which is apparently a small chain regional chain. Love their interface.

Order and you can track, including delivery:

And the end result. I didn’t need the bread “sticks” with marinara, but it came with the order (and I left them in the room):

Check out time was 11am, so that’s when I scheduled the complimentary airport shuttle. But first, grabbed their free, boring continental breakfast…

Plenty of time at the airport to have a little lunch, since my Delta First Class flight (used a TON of miles) doesn’t leave until 3. Delta doesn’t give First Class passengers access to their Lounge – which is good, since it’s being rebuilt, so there is a “lounge kiosk” for members to pick up snacks and papers, but no cocktails.

After looking at menus, settled on Torn Basil, not for the pizza, but for the Ensalata Caprese and cocktails.

Got some reading and work done, and the plane was at the gate:

And soon, I was settled in:

And once we were in the air, oddly, even though I was in the first row, I didn’t get my choice of meals. There was a chicken breast salad or the burger. I was left with the burger, which I probably would have gotten anyway since I’d had a salad in the airport:

A little over three hours to MSP (Minneapolis), then a wait for another plane:

And another meal (dinner), which I did get my first choice, the chicken breast with vegetables:

Great views on the landing in Seattle.

Nice way to end a trip.

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