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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Sep '23

Trip Report: Whistler, Finally, This Summer

Usually, I go to Whistler three times a summer, this year it was supposed to be twice, but other commitments kept me from the first visit.

Finally, WHISTLER!

My friend Michael from Tokyo is joining me and arrived a couple of days early, so off to The Museum of Flight we go!

Trying to decide if I like the selfie more, or the one the docent took.

On the night before, we have an “amuse-bouche” stop at The Camlin, downtown Seattle. Amuse-bouche meaning a frivolous tasty nibble of a stop.

The studio plus off the courtyard…

And the Cloud Room where we took takeout Poké and opened a split of Champagne:

Owner update meeting at 8:30, out the door by 10am checkout with 30,000 Wyndham Rewards Points!

Border was blessedly short – with our Canadian Border Guard saying goodbye in Japanese to Michael as we pulled away. So civilized.

Several hours of driving (and a little shopping) we arrived at WorldMark Cascade Lodge:

And Whistler Village itself:

Michael was out exploring one afternoon and came across The Original Wailers doing a sound check for a later show…

Too soon, we were back in the car headed back to Seattle. Good fun, good food, good friends.

Sigh, too short.


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Aug '23

Trip Report: SLO Time

Summertime, and the living is easy…and SLO. San Luis Obispo by AmTrak that is.

Several years ago they restored King Street Station in Seattle. High gloss white wouldn’t have been my choice, but considering the amount of money they spent restoring the plasterwork, I can understand.

AmTrak has adopted the cruise line model of, bid for a bigger/better room. Fare on the way down (Seattle-San Luis Obispo) was $571.00 – and I bid the minimum of $225 on the upgrade to a bedroom. Mind you, this is one way – but it is a long way:

And, the bedroom is nicer (and twice the size) of the roomette:

And there were menus onboard for the first time in memory:

Food is included with any sleeper car reservation. And a free cocktail/wine/beer with the evening meal.

Speaking of drinks – in the sleepers, you can bring your own!

And yes, I bring my own glassware (and bloody marys) but apparently not glare features that make me look like a one-eyed pirate.

And seasonally, you will find National Park Rangers onboard to stamp your passport. I’ve learned that it’s NOT a good idea to have them stamp your ACTUAL passport from the US Government – think more of the Parks Department version. Sadly, I only had an information sheet with me for them to stamp:

Scenery heading south…had to magnify to actually find the mountain in the shot!

First stop for getting off the train is Portland – also, another beautiful station:

I jumped off to grab a postcard or two to send to a friend.

Slowly south we go – grabbed this great shot of a what looks like a 40’s Trolley Car in Albany, Oregon, and there are a couple of trolley car museums in the area:

Next up, various food pictures, all lumped together. Sleeper passengers get breakfast, lunch, and dinner included – don’t forget to tip even though it’s free!

And the cabin when it’s turned into a bed…


And the toilet/shower combination:

The views coming into the San Luis Obispo are amazing as the train snakes through hills and horseshoe bends…

Only got into SLO 30 minutes late or so, and by Amtrak, that is on time! Jameson came and grabbed me from the station and off to familyland we went:

And nothing like giving a two-year-old a milled aircraft aluminum skateboard – good Uncle Markie!

Dinner at home that night, the next we were out at the San Luis Obispo airport for a restaurant with a security gate to the FBO (Fixed Base Operations):

And guess how wife and child are getting back to her dad’s house where they are staying while I’m in town…by plane!

Dad currently doesn’t have his medical clearance to fly but that doesn’t prevent him from taxiing across the airport for dinner with family!

Next night it was dinner at his house – after a tour and a pool party. Two out of the three cars…

And the daredevil on the diving board ready to jump (which he did):

There shouldn’t be any problems with handling a skateboard.

Time to say goodbye to SLO – with the family to see me off:

Last shot (Salinas Valley) was made possible because I was in the last car of the train, in the second to last room – out the back window.

Six hours later or so I was in Emeryville for my usual northbound “hug stop” from the boys:

The choices are 8:30am on the Southbound or 9:30pm on the Northbound. 8:30 is too early for me to have clothes on.

And a final Southern Oregon scenery shot to close out the post.

That’s all for this holiday – next up, Whistler, British Columbia.


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Jul '23

Trip Report: White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad

As part of our Alaska Cruise, Marybeth and I only booked one excursion… the White Pass & Yukon Route train out of Skagway.

For the tourists off the boat, it turns around at the top of the mountain and returns to town.

They say that if you are to take just one Alaska excursion, it should be this one!

All aboard and off we go!

And here is a little video of us passing a train going up the mountain as we are going down:

Now I see why they say, it you only do one…. And I’d do it again, though maybe not off a cruise ship and do the whole route into CanadaLand.


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Jun '23

Trip Report: Alaska With Marybeth

Been weeks since I’ve traveled – but I’m off with Marybeth for a 7-day cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

It’s an overcast day when we leave Seattle..but hot dogs are perfect on any day when they are good (and free).

That is the Rueben Dog – dog, Swiss, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing.

And then the RAIN started!

Marybeth had a slice of pizza – my preference would have been to eat a sit-down meal, but we were actually on board BEFORE they opened, and I was starved.

And we eventually got into our room…

And some pictures of life on the boat…

And the food…

Let’s not forget dress-up time!

Random pretty pictures of cruising up the inside passage…

Before long, we were pulling into our final brief stop in Victoria:

And the Coho from Port Angeles pulling out of the Harbor…

And this was all that remained…

We did one excursion on the trip – which was the train up to Yukon Pass. That will be the next post.


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  1. Tia Says:

    You both look like you had a great time!! So glad you are on the road again!

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Jun '23

Home Report: Obis From Japan

With summer almost on us, that means travel deals have dried up with all the revenge travel going on.

Time to do some work around the house!

Back in March when I was in Japan, I did some Obi shopping in Nagoya. Obi’s are the middle stomach wrap in a kimono. My nephew Julian took me to the used Obi district (I kid you not) and walked into this LARGE store and quickly gravitated to the “sale section” where everything as color tagged as to its price. 100 yen, 500 yen, 1000 yen, 2500 yen, 5000 yen – I wasn’t buying the upper two tags. At the time I was there, it was about 110 yen to the dollar.

It was a huge section that took my breath away – thinking about how many I could put in my suitcase and whether I’d have to buy another!

In the end I settled on five Obis and five Happi coats which are sort of semi-formal dinner wear.

And ready for packing…

So, here is the living room before…

And after adding five new Obi’s to the collection:

Yes, like Minnie Pearl, I left the price tags on.

If you are curious about the process of making obi, here is a link to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsUr6GZSyn8

And here are Marybeth and I modelling two of the Happi coats…

Even before this addition, I had a new guest to the house whose first comment was “It’s like a museum in here.” High praise for walking into my living room!

But, on a more somber note, there is a graphic that is hanging under the smallest of the three oils:

This is a map of the destruction of the center of Tokyo by US Armed Forces in 1945 using Napalm to incinerate the city. The one museum I visited on this year’s trip was a museum dedicated to telling the story. There were at least 60 other cities that suffered the same fate. All of this was BEFORE the two atomic bombs were dropped. War is an ugly thing.

Sorry to end on such a sobering note. My shrine to the resilience of the Japanese people.


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  1. Gary Smith Says:

    Wonder full ❤️

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May '23

Trip Report: Kentucky – The Colonels – Bucees

Bluegrass country, but it’s dark when I arrive…

And the reason for my visit.

And the second reason for the trip…a new Buc-ee’s!

Really, just hanging out with the Colonels.

Lovely to see them, for more blog posts click here.



2 Responses to “Trip Report: Kentucky – The Colonels – Bucees”

  1. Colonel Kate Says:

    It was a wonderful visit. Enjoyed the company, the sausage gravy and biscuits, the green chile pork stew, the Buc-ees visit and your presence. We love you, friend.

  2. Eric Gowins Says:

    Markie, come back soon so we can have sausage gravy again.
    Get well!

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Apr '23

Trip Report: My Week In Dublin & Boston

As all my stories start, another day, another lounge. This time the British Airways Terraces Lounge at Sea-Tac:

And that would be my plane off to the left. Aer Lingus this trip!

I was a little surprised at the VERY LIGHT load up in Business Class – 4 or 5 seats out of 20+. Wow.

Nice views from the window:

And then the parade of food begins….

Add a little music…

And, of course, some sleep.

This trip is all about taking time off, hanging out with friends, sleeping, working through life’s decisions…

Yes, I brought some of my Princess Gin to share.

But no trip to Ireland is complete without a distillery tour!

And then the tasting…

And more drinking – we came via cab.

We had the Old (New Market) Fashioned, made with this German liquer:

Damn tasty. Picked up a bottle when I got home!

Was surprised to find a can of Calmato in Jeff and Mindi’s beverage fridge – it didn’t last long:

Much food and festivities over the week…

On an odd side note – the power went out my last day, so THAT was amusing. Fortunately, they have a gas hob (and an American-style BBQ) so we didn’t starve (or go without coffee).

Far too soon it was time to leave, for yet, another lounge:

And onto the plane…

And a little pre-landing snack…

Unlike my direct flight from Seattle to Dublin, my return is via Boston for an overnight with Jill and her wonderful view condo.

Moved my flight to later in the day so we could have a lovely lunch out…

So much fun!!!

But back, to another lounge after lunch…

And back on the final leg…

Well, that was a fun jaunt.


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Mar '23

Trip Report: Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – The Long Way Home

Off in the morning to Narita via the Narita Express. And Daveson all dressed up for work – they are taking me to a station where I don’t have to transfer to get onto the Narita Express:

And the Narita Express!

Another day, another lounge as they say. This is the JAL First Class lounge at Narita-Tokyo:

Yes, I am spoiled! And speaking of spoiled, I traded in my business class direct for an indirect flight via Chicago in a First Class Suite, and sweet it was!

Extra nice is that the guy in the window seat wanted to trade for my center aisle seat so he could sit next to his wife. This is what I started with…

And this is what I ended up with, which was really nice because it was the same seat I had in March 2020 coming back from Japan (to SFO) at the beginning of the pandemic. The one above on that flight they made up as my bed because there were so few people on the flight that they gave me TWO First Class Suites.

Yes, my carryon is in the suite with me. Very handy!

And then the parade of food and drink started…

And then it was nap time – manage to get 5-6 hours of sleep!

And a little breakfast before landing…

With views of Chicago down below!

Hello Chicago….

And hello American Airlines Flagship (First Class) Lounge!

Nothing like being greeted by a Champagne Counter…

But to be honest, what I wanted the most was a shower.

And shit, showered, shaved in the pajama tops JAL gave me on the flight (came with pajama bottoms as well):

And then onto the food and drink…

With some great plane spotting as well…

If you are going to have an 8+ hours layover, this is not a bad way to do it.

This is all I remember of my last leg home, Alaska First Class to Seattle:

The flight attendant gathering all the Buffalo Trace from the back of the plane for the front.

Seriously exhausting, but super fun trip!


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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Nagoya to Tokyo

Tonight headed to Tokyo but one more meal with Julian – out at a kitschy Shogun era restaurant a block from the main Nagoya train station. Interesting enough, on the 4th floor of a small high rise. Welcome to Japan, where home improvement stores can be on the 18-20th floor.

Fun, fun, fun. And the food was good as well.

Took the train to Tokyo after dinner – the Shinkansen!


Dave was a saint and met me at the train station…with a CAR.

And my digs for the next couple of nights:

Saturday, Saint Dave drove us (and my request) to a museum WAY off the beaten track, Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very nondescript building housing a sobering account of the Napalm Fire Bombing of Tokyo during WWII. If you want a clue as to the massive scale of bombing and the fire that followed, take a look at this map:

That was central Tokyo. Sigh.

Later in the evening we were off to a jazz club known as The Pitt. Small, less than a hundred people. Off to Shinjuku we go!

And downstairs to The Pit, in the basement:

Here is the poster for tonight’s show – seems he’s had the club for the last couple of nights doing various styles. Tonight was mostly experimental, with a DJ spinning between sets, though the closing number was more traditional jazz. Loved it all.

Sadly, I won’t be here for Wednesday’s show:

Final night in Tokyo was devoted to dinner out with Dave and Miysio at Seika Japanese Restaurant:



Many little plates o food to share, with a couple of different styles of sake. Yum!

Early to bed tonight, up at 5:30 to catch plane that is an hour train ride away.


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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Komaki For Honen Matsuri

So, the English translation for Honen Matsuri would be Penis Festival. This would be my fourth or fifth. All but one in Komaki (outside Nagoya), the other in Kawasaki which is always on the first Sunday of April, rather than Komaki, which is always on March 15th, no matter the day of week. Fewer tourists if it is on a weekday.

But, we have to get there!

So, what is it?

According to Wikipedia: Harvest Festival (豊年祭Hōnensai) is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15 in JapanHōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

Click here for the full entry about the history of the festival.

If you click on the next three, they will link to short videos:

That’s it for the festival.

[? ? ?]

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Nagoya

Flying into Nagoya from Guam…

Compared to Guam, immigration and customs was a breeze in Nagoya. Bags and through in minutes, not hours.

Left my luggage at a hotel that I may or may not stay at tonight, and headed over to The Flight Of Dreams which is connected to Terminal 2 at NGO.

Who would have thought I be greeted by The Seattle Terrace!

Complete with Starbucks, Beecher’s Cheese, Ethan Stowell, Seattle Fish and Chips…

I went for the Fish & Chips and a Highball!

Nothing like having lunch under the wing of the FIRST 787 to roll off the line for test flights in Everett.

Lots of interesting exhibits, including the DHK Lego Diorama:

And there was even a Boeing Store – which I picked up something for Jonathan…


Around four, Julian was done with his “new parent” job today – the birth of he and Yurika’s identical twin girls via c-section a little after noon. He kindly met me at the airport to help wrangle my bags.

On the train to his house so I can set up the snack bowl of “Lounge Food”.

Dinner tonight is in. Korean, prepared by the excellent chef Julian:

The next day found us out shopping at Eon, and then out for conveyor belt sushi, though it’s now all special order.

And our haul from the store…

And some random tourist shots…


And after the temple, off to look for Obi and Hopi….

And here was the haul! Five Obi, five Hopi Coat:

Some random Japanese Posters…

And vending machines…

And another GREAT Julian meal or two, breakfast and Okinawan dinner:

The next post will be devoted to the Fertility Festival happening in Komaki.

[? ? ?]

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  1. Marybeth McCarthy Says:

    Dandy House!

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Guam

This won’t be much of a post, because, really, unless you are a fan of beaches (me, not so much), Guam really didn’t have much to offer me except a place to decompress for a couple of nights as an interesting means of not having jet lag.

Wyndham Guam is the freebie hotel (OK, points) for this stop:

The bathroom featured a glowing blue automatic flushing toilet:

And there was a huge patio/pool area (which I didn’t use):

Lots of stuff closed/not offered post COVID — like the shuttle to local places (cabs run $15-20 for a ten-minute ride), soda machines, lobby sundry store, etc. But the Korean Spa was open (also in the lobby):


Not sure it was worth it to take the space to pack a pair of shorts since it was too breezy to wear them in Waikiki. But., here they are:

Was up at 6am, and the two closest mini-marts were both still closed, so I walked further to an American Icon:

Fortunately, the smaller of the two mini-marts was open on my return where I picked up things for the afternoon and evening meals (pickled octopus and chicken adobo):

Today’s holy grail mission is to visit the world’s most profitable Kmart – and that was when there were KMarts everywhere, not just the remaining eight stores:

Amusing that HALF that are in US territories.

I left under impressed – so it MUST have been a KMart!

Sadly, another early wake up call for the flight to Nagoya.

[? ? ?]

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2 Responses to “Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Guam”

  1. Marybeth McCarthy Says:

    Did you buy anything at KMart?

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    Sadly, not much.

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – The Island Hopper

Yet another 4am wakeup call – this is getting old. But, The Island Hopper only runs twice a week, and there schedule is their schedule.

What is The Island Hopper? It’s a famous old Continental Airlines route through the South Pacific. When United bought Continental, the continued the route (and I wear, using the same old planes).

There are some unique features of this route from Wikipedia:

The flight operates three times weekly as United Flight 155 from Guam to Honolulu, and Flight 154 from Honolulu to Guam.[9] Unlike other flights, a mechanic and extra set of spare parts is carried on board the Boeing 737-800.[2] Other peculiarities include having four pilots working on each flight. Two pilots would fly the leg from Honolulu to Majuro and the other pair fly the remaining legs.[9] Flight attendants also receive crew duty time exemption from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Since many runways in the islands are short, fire trucks are usually staffed and lined up beside the runway ready to cool the brakes and tires after each landing. The front rows of the economy class can be collapsed to accommodate stretchers in case of medevac.

The full article is here: Island Hopper – Wikipedia

And here we go – imagine that, a LOUNGE starts the trip!

And then onto the plane:

Saw one of ANA’s Hawaii-specific A380’s parked at HNL. They have three, just for the Honolulu route.

So, one of the unique things about the 737-800 that they use on this route is seriously comfortable seats for the reserve pilots:

They recline so far that they have to block off seats 2A and 2C.

And a little food:

That will be the last real food until the final leg of the flight. Snacks with each short hop.

So, here are some pictures from the various stops….

And then, there is my favorite photo from this whole long (15 hour) flight day:

And their view:

And finally, onto Guam, my stop for two nights. But first I have to get my bags after making it through customs…

There were well over 100 coolers on this flight. Sadly, it’s United which doesn’t have a 20-minute bag guaranteed. This was more like an hour plus.

What is in all those coolers? TUNA. Apparently, Chuuk and Pohmpei harvest 10% of the world’s tuna.

Headed to the hotel for a couple of nights using Wyndham rewards points!

[? ? ?]

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Grand Pacific Tour – First Stop, Waikiki

I first tried to plan this for March of 2021, well, there was a pandemic still going on. Tried again for March of 2022, and there was STILL a pandemic going on, and Asia was MOST DEFINITELY closed for business.

Which brings us to 2023 and I’m finally making the trip.

Technically, my return is out of NRT, not HND, but they are only a hour apart and I was too lazy to change the map.

First stop – two nights in Waikiki!

Requisite airplane and airplane food photo:

Got an Uber to the condo – a Studio Unit (500sq feet) at the Club Wyndham Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai. First time I’ve stayed here even though it is park of the Wyndham empire (which includes my WorldMark membership). This bunch of rooms was owned by Shell Vacations before Wyndham bought them. I was using Wyndham Rewards Points (30,000 for the two nights – GREAT DEAL). I’d seen availably here before – must be that I booked it last March!

And day and night views:

The Ilikai was the supposed offices for Hawaii 5-0 (the original). It’s right by what I call the “Gilligan’s Island” Marina.

Speaking of which – I had breakfast at Pesca, the restaurant on the roof – which had views of the marina from the glass elevator.

If you click on the photo, you will get a video of the elevator ride coming back down.

Had a truly wonderful Eggs Benedict ($18 – not unreasonable for Hawaii, and CHEAP when you consider the VIEW) with an Aperol Spritz ($14).

And said views…

Forgot to mention, speaking of views – I was serenaded this morning buy hospitality workers wanting a contract:

If you click on the photo, it will link you to a video clip (since I can’t figure out how to embed videos anymore).

Spend an hour late morning doing another “owner update” when the guy realized I was a WorldMark owner not a Wyndham owner and cut me loose with 30,000 Wyndham Rewards Points – so I basically got that condo for free. Going to use those points to book NYC in the fall for a train trip.

That’s it for today, off to Guam tomorrow!

[? ? ?]

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Five Mileage Runs To Cincinnati In Two Months

And One More To Come

One might ask, why Cincinnati? To keep my status on Alaska.

Every winter one city stands out for cheap, long-distance turnarounds (out and back on the same plane). The previous five years, it was Raleigh-Durham. At around $250 r/t, which I can book in Premium which is the free booze and extra legroom portion on the plane, not First, but I usually get upgraded. At this point, only one leg did I not get upgraded.

Again, why Cincinnati? $152 round-trip for 1,914 flight miles each way, plus 2,455 bonus miles because of how much I fly (which won’t be as much this year as last). Doing the math, that is $912 for 22,968 flight miles (which gets me MVP Silver for 2024) and 29,460 bonus for a total of 52,428 redeemable miles, which is just a few thousand miles short of a one-way business class ticket to Europe. It’s also a little cheaper (0.0173) compared to the value of Alaska miles (0.018)

Cincinnati is also an hour shorter in each direction, making the flights more tolerable if I don’t get upgraded. And it’s a 9am departure, which is civil.

We will start with all the pretty, out the window shots – I try and seat in window seats on the way east if I get upgraded to First for the mountain views:

And some interesting infrastructure shots:

Braidwood and Byron Generating Stations outside Rockford, Illinois. More info at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braidwood_Nuclear_Generating_Station

And then there is this:

The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in NE Indiana. For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler_Ridge_Wind_Farm

And then the personal and food stuff:

Feta and sweet potato omelette on the way out:

And the Jerk Chicken on the way home:

For the next trip I’m trying the vegetarian pasta dish, though the Jerk Chicken was quite nice. And here is what you can order if you don’t get upgraded:

End of the day…

And the most amusing thing about the Cincinnati Airport is that there is a Bourbon Tasting Bar and Store next to gate that I fly in/out of:

I’ll end this post with the two most amuzing things from the 5 our of 6 miles runs…

Number 1 — A new cocktail (to me). A Nutty Irishman. Oregon Hazelnut liquor and Irish Cream liqour:

Number 2 – When a group of Coral Directors is on board and they want to sing a song to the First Offier who is taking his last flight as one, to become a Captan. That beats my hitting Alaska MVP Silver on this trip. I got a bit of video:

Sadly, for some reason I can’t get YouTube to embed the video as usual, so click on the link below – it’s a quick 21 seconds.


Well, there is our humor for the day.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: San Diego With MB

Nothing like starting off a trip sharing an Uber with Jonathan to the airport and getting time in the lounge to just hang.

Hopped to San Jose barely making my connection to San Diego – when you are using First Class upgrades, you take less than ideal routings!

Second leg (San Jose to San Diego) was in an E175, and I had an entire First Class row to myself!

And a couple of decent shots coming into San Diego.

And waiting for me at baggage claim was MB! She came in on Southwest – we really should fly together next time.

A friend from high school, Debbie, came to pick us up and take us to the condo.

I have precisely two photos of the Inn At The Park, unless you count what is in the background of a couple of people shots.

The view:

Poseidon out in the garden:

Debbie hung out and we had nachos across the street. FYI, she flew in from Atlanta for this visit, but her daughter lives here so she has a car.

Here are some great pictures of all of us from this adventure.

Spent Tuesday thrift shopping until I dropped, MB and Debbie went to explore Balboa Park which is just across the street from the condo.

Wednesday, we hit happy hour at La Taverna, a favorite of Jonathan and I as it is run by two brothers from Rome, and it shows.

Lobster mac and cheese, and a healthy Caesar (as in salad, not Canadian national drink).

Flight home Thursday was a bit of an adventure. Accidentally changed to the earlier flight when looking what seats were available, cancelling my First Class upgrade (put back in my account with a phone call). While not in First on the way home, I was still in Premium (free booze and more leg room), and it meant MB and I had a chance to hang out in the lounge before our flights:

Flight home was on a VERY new MAX 9, still had the new plane smell!

What it didn’t have was an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), or internet system (did have wi-fi for movies). Seems that it was delivered from Boeing to Alaska without those two components. Seems supply chain issues – they are also short on engines so they are stripping them off Chinese ordered and built planes that can’t be delivered due to sanctions.

Even though I was in the aisle (8D), I managed to get these INCREDIBLE shots out the window:

And I’ll close with what the new airsick bags look like on Alaska. I approve.

That’s it for now.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: Return To Victoria

Of my many travel rituals, one of the constants is visiting Victoria, British Columbia a couple of times in the winter and Whistler, British Columbia, up in the mountains, a couple of times in the summer.

This year is no exception – this being trip two to Victoria this winter.

Got to the dock early and went next door for Clam Chowder for MB and a Manhattan for me.

And spied this sign in the bathroom stall.

And our boat is here!


Custom and immigration was fairly quick, and we are at the condo shortly.

And I start cooking, forgetting to take pictures of the finished meal. Therefore, you get photos of the chicken stop I’m making for the black-eyed peas and some pumpkin bread.

But here is a shot from BobaDog:

And from Ocean’s Finest fish and chips food truck:

And in front of The Cathedral for Evensong:

And random shots from our time in Vic:

In on Monday, out of Friday, but we leave with a gift from Nicola at the front desk – a dragon named Arthur:

Too soon, back on the boat and home…

Until next winter.

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One Response to “Trip Report: Return To Victoria”

  1. MB Says:

    Great to relax and unwind. Next time the museum!

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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – 48-Hours To Get Home

Even with an early flight – before the shuttle starts (cab ride), wow, the line at the front desk!

What you see at the left below is the line for members of Hyatt’s hotel points plan; which I’m a member. Even if you never planning on staying at that brand (and most of the majors have multiple brands under their umbrella), join the club. Often comes with 5-10% off booking direct, free wi-fi, other goodies. That line was at 5AM! Which is what happens when you have 1200 rooms with a high turnover nightly being an airport mega-hotel.

Probably could have taken the first shuttle since I had to wait a bit for the Business Class Asiana desks to open, which have their own area:

And then I was off to the lounge (SHOCKING!).

At this point, I should probably explain 48 hours to get home. I’m going the long way, with an overnight in Singapore.

Why? I am travelling during Lunar New Year Week meaning no direct flights (in Business Class, using miles) where available out of Seoul. Yes, it’s 48 hours, but it’s in comfort with an overnight half way through.

This is Asiana Business Class intra-Asia (i.e., recliners in Business rather than lay flat seats). Still VERY comfortable for a 4-hour flight.

Looks like a comfy couch to me!

And there is a LOT of leg room…

And then the food begins!

And a little passenger shaming… bare feet on the bulkhead AND putting your hair up in curlers mid-flight – the only thing missing was the hair spray!

And a shot of landing in Manila…

Landed in Manila and then the FUN began. First – didn’t have a QRHealthCode, told them I was transferring and they waved me on. Went to the transit desk to find where my connecting flight on Singapore Airlines was, and to get a boarding pass which Asiana couldn’t issue for some reason. They said, wait, they’d call the Asiana Representative who showed up with a sign with my name on it…probably walked past her deplaning. Turns out I’m in Terminal 3 and my flight is out of Terminal 1 (or the other way around). Turns out that the Terminals are on opposite sides of the runway and there isn’t a connection behind security. I KNEW there was a reason I was only travelling with carryon!

Off she goes with my passport, asking me to wait. Comes back ten minutes later saying I’ve been “cleared” to transit and I find myself in the Diplomatic Line at Immigration (and I get stamps in my passport!), and then led to the lobby where I’m asked if I have any Pesos. No, would you be willing to change some? It will guarantee your connection if we put you in a cab to the other terminal as the bus only runs with it’s full. Welcome to Manila.

Change pesos, get in arranged flat rate cab, overtip because he doesn’t have change, and head out into the city.

Business Class line at Singapore was short, but there were masses of people travelling. Went to the Priority Line which said seniors, and I was through. Apparently there ARE advantages to being old.

Soon, another lounge, this time Singapore Airlines.

It’s actually a very pretty/functional airport:

Wendy’s, McDonalds, Seattle Best Coffee – might as well be in the US! I did find a store and buy 3 minis of booze with some of my leftover pesos. I’m overnighting in Singapore at the Transit Hotel so they will be handy.

A sign that travel in Asia is still recovering, the Cathy Pacific lounge in Manila is still closed (as is the Cathy Pacific lounge in San Francisco, one that I can access with my Alaska Lounge membership):

Plane is at the gate!

And soon I am onboard…

Signs of the Lunar New Year..

Shots of takeoff.


After the preflight champagne, I went for the Singapore Sling – when in Rome, etc.

It was a little too sweet for me. Fortunately, they have other options which I got with the first round of food…

And then relaxation!

And soon, Singapore!

FORTUNATELY, at the Singapore airport, even though my Transit Hotel is in a different terminal, there is a train between the two.

Yes, those are the minis I bought in the Manila Airport.

The room rents in 6-hour blocks, with one meal included. I rented 12-hours, so I got a full 8-hours of sleep. Honestly, the buffet was so, so, and I had breakfast in the Singapore Lounge where I knew the food would be better.

Back on the train to the other terminal in the morning….Singapore is a very efficient airport.

I’m wondering if this was the 747-800 that I saw taking off from Seoul.

Would still like to fly in the 747-800, sigh. Getting rarer and rarer.

Off to the lounge for breakfast!

That means self-service…I’m dine with that.

Yes, the place is HUGE! But I don’t want to overeat for my flight from Singapore to LAX with a stop in Tokyo.

And here we go…

And then the parade of food, I “Booked The Chef” and had lobster thermidor for breakfast – it wasn’t on the in flight menu and I would have had it for lunch, but it wasn’t an option.

With dessert…

And then a light snack..

The staff of the first flight befriended me…

Complete with a Singapore Teddy Bear and a handwritten note from the crew..

WOW – such a loving staff. Sadly, at Tokyo there was a change of crew (who were also great, but no teddy bear)

And the food parade continued after having to deplane (and go to the lounge) and reboard…

Good whiskey…

Good wines…

More food…

And some much-needed sleep!

And even MORE food!

Next up was LAX where I cleared customs/immigration in 5 minutes by facial recognition which is part of my Global Entry – nice, but also a little disturbing.

Six hours in the Alaska LAS Lounge, another flight in Seattle in First, and I was done.

Ready for the next adventure!

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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – Time To Start Home

Goodbye Busan, you will be missed (Seoul, less so). LOVE being 500 yards from the train station.

And soon we are on board:

These cars are actually newer than the high-speed cars we came down to Busan on – and this is an Express that takes the old route without all the tunnels, and clocks in at 5.5 hours rather than the 2.5 hours for fast route.

We are the light blue squiggly train line.

Our train has some vending machines between cars!

As you can see, they aren’t stocked well, unlike us, who stocked up in the station with food for the trip.

And some shots from the trip of the scenery…

And some shots from the Main Station in Seoul where we transferred to the airport line to our hotel.

Our digs for the night (two nights for me) is the Grand Hyatt Incheon Airport. Fancy, and big – 1200 rooms.

And here is the nighttime view – yes, I got an airport view room:

And we found food at one of the restaurants in the hotel:

Sean had an early flight out in the morning, and I have another day here of plane spotting from the comfort of my room:

Had my morning food at the deli in the other tower:

And here are some more shots of this MASSIVE hotel complex – two towers!

Had dinner where we SHOULD have had dinner last night – in the Karaoke Bar! No Karaoke as I was there just after they opened for the evening, just great music.

Yeah, I know, it’s not a healthy dinner – had onion rings in honor of my mother and MB.

So, I’ll close this post with a toilet pic – my bidet seat at home was my BEST pandemic purchase, though this one is at the hotel.

Time to head back to Seattle.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – On To Busan

Our departure from Seoul to Busan is heralded by snow…

A little snack in the hotel coffee shop to get us going…

And off we go in a cab to the main train station…

We are taking the high-speed train to Busan.

Our route is in the dark blue:

In the station I fire up maps when Sean asks how far the hotel is.

The answer it 500 yards…

That would be the Encore by Ramada Busan Station.

And the room is nicer than the last Ramada…

Though it did take us a bit to figure out how to flush the toilet (big top hand button on the wall remote):

Off we go to explore Busan!

Loving that all of this is within walking distance of the station. Texas street is home to many “lady bars” featuring the finest in Russian and Filipino women.

Busan was an R&R (rest and relaxation) base during the Korean War since it was on the ocean, far from the front lines.

Not sure that “Mom’s Touch” should be in this district…

It is also home to massive markets.

Dinner tonight is Korean BBQ:

And a couple of shots from the walk home…

This is a shot out our window to the train station – it’s THAT close.

And some roof top shots – sadly, the pool was closed and I only got in because there was a maintenance man there.

Our hotel also featured a breakfast buffet – which, while about $20 USD, was well stocked…Asian hotels DO know how to put on a spread:

Today’s adventure is a Hop On Hop Off bus that leaves from in front of the hotel.

The total loop was about two and a half hours assuming you didn’t get off. Early in the trip there was an entrance ramp that triggered Sean’s phobia of heights…

We stayed on until the Busan History Museum which traces back to the stone age in their exhibits…

And shots from the rest of the bus ride…

Sean hopped off at the Film Center – apparently Busan has a world-famous film event.

Found this in the lobby – a miniature of the odd take on the Beatles cross walk photo…

And just so you know I’m not the perfect tourist…I had to try a quarter pounder:

But Korea is known for its fried chicken, sadly, the place we spotted last night was closed tonight, so we ended up across the road:

We went back (OK, Sean when back) to the counter to quadruple up on he sweet pickles and marinated daikon radish. And yes, we had Shochu with all our dinners.

And I include this shot as the last of this post, in honor of Jonathan, who loves 7-11 and has now moved to Texas:

Back to Seoul tomorrow.

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