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Tue
29
May '12

Dinner With Jill And Murphy.

Well, I’ve picked up a little side work for the next couple of days. It seems a friend has a recurring case of scabies – never pleasant. In an effort to keep from reinfecting himself he’s asked for the following:

  • (7) Pants (33 or 34×31 or so)
  • (7) Sweatshirts/sweaters (L)
  • (14) T-shirts
  • (7) Briefs or Boxers (32″ classic Jockey/L boxers)
  • (2) pairs flip flops
  • set bedding (queen fitted, top, light blanket)
  • towels (wash cloth/bath towel)
  • pillow and case
  • (7) lengths of cotton rope 48″ long (for a Jethro style belt)

Each of these items sealed in Ziploc bags, two bags for each day: day clothes, night clothes. Seems that the little buggers die in 7 days without a host.

$132.07 later (Goodwill) all I have left is the rope, flip flops, pillow and bags.

Oh, did I mention that all this stuff has to be washed in scent free detergent. Good thing I’m having dinner with Jill and Murphy (the Wonder Dog) tonight – that’s one more washing machine to coopt for the big load of jeans and sweaters. Add the load I have in my machine and the load in Swanda’s machine, I should be done tomorrow afternoon.

Great dinner: steaks on the grill (brought back to life with fresh propane), asparagus, eggplant – yum.

And the last project of the day, sanding and oiling a section of Black Locust to see if Bliss wants these slabs for a hallway table.

Finished and unfinished above. End grain below.

Oils up nice.

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Sat
7
Apr '12

Shop Duty. Jill Duty.

I was a little worried when it was a one customer day from opening at 11 to about the 3pm start of the tasting. Yesterday was a good day at the shop, but Saturday is out big day of the week. By the time I left a little after 4:30, my worries were gone, it looked like a strong afternoon. I’ll have to see what the numbers were tomorrow.

Headed home to get ready for dinner with Jill. Ribs and salad from me, fine wine from Jill (from her last France trip):

Jill brought along Murphy the Wonder Dog, but no bones for the mutt:

Really should have started packing for next week’s trip… but I didn’t.

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Sun
2
Oct '11

Jill, Joe, and Shilla.

Four people spent the night in the condo… Joe, CaddyDaddy, SurfBetty, and, of course, me.

SurfBetty was up and out early, and the three of us packed up all the remaining food and booze and were out the door at 11:30. With no cooktop, that meant breakfast as back at the house rather than in the penthouse. You’d think they could have made the penthouses with a full kitchen. I can understand the rest of the rooms at the Camlin, but I guess they think that since you are in the big city that you won’t be cooking your meals.

The afternoon was spent unpacking, repacking, and generally cleaning up the place a bit. Nothing like multiple trips to leave you with stuff lying around everywhere.

Dinner tonight is via a Groupon Coupon for Shilla, a Japanese/Korean restaurant that I have long loved.

Sadly, the bloom is off the rose and all we are left with is thorns. It wasn’t that bad, but it’s under new ownership and management and things have gone downhill. The best example is our in-table grill wasn’t working and we were given a portable one which hogged most of the table. In the end it seemed like a lot of money for the quantity and quality of the experience.

And now we know why they have been offering Goupons.

This is Joe’s last night in town, back to work he goes.

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Sun
26
Jun '11

Dinner With Jill.

Got the lawn trimmed up today… in three chucks. Trim, read novel, trim, read novel, trim.

Had a long call with the HOPE folks about getting a refinance on the house. Paperwork on hold wil I scrounge up some more regular income.

With the new martini glasses, guess that means we have to have martinis! And look what Jill noticed in the fridge:

Really. Stuffed Queens. I’ll have to remember that for the next time there is more than one queen for dinner. And speaking of that dinner, here the best of the shots, even showing the martini glasses in action:

Though actually we were having Gimlets, and ribs, and salad, and wine.

Followed dinner with a viewing of the Peter Sellars movie: Casino Royale, a 007 spoof from the 60’s.

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Thu
17
Mar '11

Dinner With Jill.

Jill has 10 days of freedom, and luckily she spent one of those evening with me eating lamb lollipops, asparagus, salad, and a Trader Joe’s Amaroni which at $16 is really good — especially since most Amaroni’s start at double that price.

And really, the rest of the day was dull in comparison to Dinner With Jill.

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Sun
7
Feb '10

Queen Jill’s Arrival

Almost Not.

Lots of email back and forth this morning with Jill… with the subject line “Shit”.

The Victoria Clipper IV was having overheating problems and a full boat of passengers…. 35 minutes out they turned around. By 10am they were headed back north, but at a lower speed. Turned the normal 2 hours 45 minute trip into a 4 hour trip. When they sailed again, they sailed with a reduced load, kicking all the day passengers off since they would only have an hour in Victoria. They were good to those who did make the trip:

  • free breakfast
  • free soft drinks
  • $1.50 champagne and grapefruit juice
  • 20% off duty free
  • 50% off your next Clipper ticket

Not sure whether they were able to restock for the afternoon return trip since they went through all the breakfasts and most of the lunches.

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I was hoping to spot Jill on the back railing, but alas, she was inside and warm, arriving just in time for the SuperBowel (yes, an intentional typo). Saw the game, but with Canadian commercials — guess I’ll have to look at them online tomorrow which raises the question, then why watch the game. Go Saints.

PooPoos this afternoon of stinky cheese from Salt Spring Island courtesy of the boys (who I need to visit one of these trips) and a loaf of bread out of the oven. Dinner was skinless-boneless BBQ’d chicken breasts with salad and wine. Dessert of a chocolate bar in the hot tub.

Life is hard.

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Almost Not.

Mon
5
Nov '07

Mark and Jill Go Snorkeling.

Butt early call from the front desk. 5am. Ick. Need to be at Maui Dive at 5:45 for equipment fitting, and 6:45am at the boat ramp for our 2-for-1 snorkel trip that I won my first trip to Kihei, Maui, WorldMark.

Continental breakfast — sweet bread, donut holes, etc — followed by fresh fruit — and lots of waves on the way out to Molokini Crater for our dive location — it was a 4.75 hour tour rather than 3 hour (Gilligan) tour because of harbor dredging. Even had a vegetable and dip platter late in the morning plus all the soft drinks, water, etc.

Here is a shot of Jill and I on the boat:

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I spent an hour or so floating around with the viewing boogie board — I just can’t do the snorkel — I start gagging, which really isn’t a good thing to do in the middle of the ocean. Saw lots of fish, a few sharks, and a bunch of divers on the sea bottom from another boat. On the way back in we saw bunches of big turtles — even got a shot of one!

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Jill spent about half the time (if not more) feeling like crap (and hurled at least once) — turns out she doesn’t do the sea very well. Or because of her stuffed up head, who knows — but she ain’t drinking tonight.

And two makes twelve. Left Jill at the condo and returned the gear, went to the post office for stamps, had lunch, and went to… wait, hold it…. Hilo Hatties — twice since Jill wasn’t with me. Got one, then took a walk around the complex, then got another — the last one I bought a $9.99 beach bag — big enough to hold a beach towel, some sodas, reading material, glasses, etc — and small enough to pack. And it matches my duffel bag — black and white hibiscus pattern. Very Hawaiian.

We checked in for our flights tomorrow. Need to cook dinner, though we’ve laid out too many pupu’s AGAIN so I’m not sure how the steaks and potatoes will work out — maybe we’ll just eat late especially since my clothes are in the dryer and I want to do the steaks on the grill — guessing it’s a no-no to BBQ naked at WorldMark.

Out of the house by 7:30 for Jill’s flight at 8:30 — I’ll return the car and fly out at 9:20am — planning on meeting at my office in Honolulu (hint: see previous post).

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Fri
2
Nov '07

Jill and the Around The Island Day.

Up at 6:30, on the road by 7:30am — got to Dave’s place about 9:15 or so. Office wasn’t open so I couldn’t pick up my FedEx package from SmithBarney.

Dave’s place. Stunning. Mom would love it. Same architect designed Bill Gate’s house. This one is three bedrooms and very ship like in the use of wood.

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And then there is is nice Lotus Elise ($30-60K depending on age) sitting in the garage…

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And the view….. (with Jill)

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Then we headed on our circle tour of the island — including Volcano National Park and the change to use another my pass again — it’s paid off, and I’m $5 ahead according to Jill.

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Add to this several stops at Hilo Hatties for free coffee mugs — and you have a full day of driving. Dinner was salad and pupu’s and laying around the condo. Tomorrow we are off to Maui for three nights.

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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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For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Sun
22
Apr '18

Trip Report: Friends And Food In Boston

Another week, another flight, another breakfast in the Alaska Lounge…

This picture is for my sister…while that plane is at my gate, it’s the departure before mine:

Got the upgrade to first days ago, so that means lots of pictures of the new Alaska First Class menu that they are rolling out, starting with the hot sweaty nuts:

Continuing with the salad (that would be Murder on the Orient Express in the background):

Onto the Cod in Miso:

Followed by what may be the best gelato I’ve had in years!

My flight arrived a little early, grabbed my luggage, struggled with surge pricing on Uber before abandoning Uber to grab the last train to Alewife – free as opposed to $50-60 door to door. I have time, I’ve been drinking and on holiday. Who cares if I don’t get to Pucci’s until 2am – he left the door open, and he sleeps soundly. Grabbed an Uber from Alewife that was $10. Much more reasonable!

When I visit Pucci, we have a system. He gets up in the morning and goes to the gym, I sleep in until eleven or so, then get up for my breakfast/his lunch:

Crab and arugula omelets. Yum. Pucci has students today, though not as many as usual since half are on break, so after a liquor store run, Jill picks me up and we are off to check out Pucci’s favorite local wine store, The Spirited Gourmet:

Well over twice the size of my shop, it includes a deli counter for sandwiches, sliced cheeses and meats, imported food goods. We probably have the same size wine collection.

Next up is the Red House, which is turning into a ritual. They have 2 for $1 oysters from 12-5pm. Yep, that’s $6 a dozen, so Jill and I both got a dozen:

And then we added the mussels and frites ($9) before we headed out.

Pucci taught until 7PM (usually 9PM), so we had a nice rack of lamb off the grill for our dinner:

Served with a lovely Bodegas Carrau Uruguayan Tannat from The Spirited Gourmet:

The following day, it was Pucci’s Homemade Chili, with a lovely Garzon Pinot Noir Rosé (also from Uruguay):

Before we headed to the Red House for cocktails (me) and oysters for dessert. Yes, oysters almost immediately after chili.

The last supper, sadly, I was having too much fun and forgot photos…here’s the appetizer spread:

With this amazing Greek Caviar Spread:

No pictures of the guests (Pucci, Jill, Netta, Joel, Susan), but I did get one of Murphy the Wonder Dog patiently waiting for something to hit the floor.

I was up at 6am the next morning so Pucci could run me to Alewife before his run to the gym.

An hour+ later I was at the airport, settled into the Admirals Club, one terminal over from mine:

And soon I was on the plane home – I’d gotten a 1am notice that I’d been upgraded…NICE.

Today’s menu was a beef in mole which was “interesting” – like they were trying too hard, unlike the flight attendant who on a 6-hour flight, served it all at once, rather than in courses (well, the nuts and gelato came out separately).

I returned to my house to find a riot of color in my front yard. What a nice welcome:

Another week, another trip – wonder where next week will be?

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For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

 

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Fri
9
Mar '18

Trip Report: Berkeley For Laundry & Good Times

With my washer/dryer still on the fritz, once again I’m checking two bags filled with dirty clothes. Sigh. On the upside, it’s supposed to be delivered and installed the day after I get back.

No upgrade on the way down, and I only had 80% of my seat due to a POS in the middle seat. POS is airline lingo for Person Of Size. And while Alaska (and Southwest) have very generous POS policies, this lady did not take advantage of the offer or possibly didn’t know about it. Here is their policy. In reading it, I learned something new. You can use your companion fare to purchase the second seat, and if there is one seat open, they refund the taxes/fees, and return the companion fare to your account. I’m not sure if she thought that a “Premium Seat” would be wider – it isn’t, just more knee room. Luckily, I know where the latch is to make the aisle seat armrest go up that that we were both (can’t speak for the person in the window) reasonable comfortable on our hour and a half flight. The same for a flight Jill and I took to Boston years ago where she was squished into the window, and I, the aisle as we were in row six, which has fixed arms that hold the tray tables. And this was before they had Premium Class with free booze, which might have made it better.

But, enough about that.

Onyx met me at the airport and we headed off the lunch as is the case when I arrive around 11. He usually hasn’t had food yet, and I’m usually hungry. Today’s restaurant choice was Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café where I had the Rueben (I usually can’t resist) with Cole Slaw, and Onyx had the Denver Omelet minus the bell peppers.

Did I mention Champagne Cocktails as well?

Rudy’s is in the old part of Emeryville – not the high-tech world of Pixar Studios down the road.

This visit is all about hiding out, hanging out, doing laundry, relaxing… and, of course, food. First night’s dinner:

Second day’s afternoon snack at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market up the street from the boys:

Second night’s dinner:

Usually I fly into Oakland and out of San Francisco (taking BART over), but when I booked this months ago, it was only $100.60 round-trip to Oakland and back. I’ll take a deal when I see it!

The reason from plying back out of SFO is that I love the Cathay Pacific lounge and its custom-made noodle bar. No lounge that I have access to in Oakland, but I might actually spring for this one on the next trip ($45, or free to American Express Platinum Cardholders, WOW Business Class, Azores Business Class) since I spent more than the entrance fee on a meal and two drinks.

Inside, before security I had a $25.00 Manhattan (shamefully expensive, but great other than the standard red cherries), and past security it was a couple of starters and a shot of Commenerativo.

Better to eat in the airport, and to subsist on drinks and the snack box on the plane:

Had lovely company in the middle seat on the return flight – everyone in a festive mood with the free cocktails.

The last of the mileage runs, for a bit. Was home by 10pm, in bed by midnight.

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Wed
24
Jan '18

Trip Report: Boston For The Rare Weekend Plus

Normally my domestic trips I don’t do weekends, as to not annoy my business partner in the wine shop. Made an exception to see Pucci. His schedule is freer on the weekends as he teaches most afternoon/evenings during the week.

Got the rare upgrade to first on the Seattle-Boston run – rare because Seattle is the major Alaska hub with LOTS of 75K fliers who spend way more for their ticket than I ever do. A rare upgrade, but a lovely one:

I love going to visit Pucci – he LOVES to cook (and I brought wine).

We had a lovely Garzon Albarino from Uruguay to go with the chicken.

The next afternoon found us at MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) for a Dutch Masters exhibit that ends in a couple of days:

And a couple of Gaugin’s in another wing – including one from his Japanese phase (just at Van Gogh had):

And with art, you have to have food….

My pork belly steamed buns:

 

And Pucci’s mussels (in a lovely broth):

It was time for a little quick nap before heading over to have dinner with Netta and Joel (and occasionally Max):

We did a couple of racks of lamb (well, Netta did), using a Le Creuset that Julia Child gave her when she was her archivist…

A damn fine meal for the four of us (Pucci’s Caeser Salad not pictured):

And the self-proclaimed “picky eater”, Max, did make an appearance after dinner:

Monday’s big adventure for me since Pucci had Winchester Community Music School recitals to play in with his students was to meet up with my buddy Fernando and finally meet his husband at Christopher’s in Porter Square:

My first drink was…

Not bad – as was the blue cheese burger with tater tots:

And Fernando got the chicken pot pie which looked great as well.

Total forgotten what Fernado’s husband, Steve had – he was a bit camera-shy.

Suddenly, this post is all about food, because for Tuesday’s lunch, we (Pucci and I) met up with Jill at the Red House for Manhattans and oysters:

The first dozen was $6, the second (and beyond), $12. Still an expensive lunch considering we each had two dozen (and a couple of cocktails for me), and I was still hungry in an hour or so – which meant I hit up Pucci’s Noodles from lunch the other day:

Here is the recipe:

Delicious hot, or just from the fridge.

The Tuesday night adventure was for a recital at the Winchester Community Music School with one of Pucci’s groups – the Mo-Town group. This was during the sound check:

And the Beatles group up after Pucci:

And Pucci’s group:

It was great to see him play – though piano isn’t his best instrument – that would be the Bass. Would love to see him in a “gig” environment (a.k.a. bar).

My final day in Boston I was greeted with snow:

But Pucci had a student move his lesson so he gave me a ride to the “T”:

And after one transfer, I was in the Admirals Club lounge having a little lunch:

That was just the starter – fresh house-made guacamole – several rounds of soup followed. And then it was on to the plane, sadly, in back, but at least I was in the free booze section:

And soon, I was home…for twelve hours before the next adventure.

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Mon
30
Jan '17

Trip Report: Boston Mileage Run Number One

My business partner just rolls his eyes when I mention mileage runs. Not sure what I’m talking about? CLICK HERE.

This is the first of four mileage runs I have planned this spring – all transcontinental flights, and number one is Boston. The fare was $256.00 roundtrip. That works out to 2,496 each way for a total of 4,992 flight miles, plus another 4,992 Bonus Miles for being an MVP Gold, so basically you have 10,000 miles (technically 9,984) to redeem which would be a round trip between SFO and LAX, or a little less than half for a roundtrip to Florida. End numbers — .0256 per mile which isn’t bad considering they are valued at 1.9 cents, but the way I use them I get much more value since its business class international flights where I use mile – ticket prices that I’d never pay cash for.

The schedule: Leave SEA at 9:20pm after having drinks, salad and soup in the Alaska Lounge, arrive BOS 5:30 – walk from Terminal C to Terminal B to use the Admiral’s Club, sleep for a couple of hours, get a cocktail:


I was a little surprised at the size of my whiskey/diet, but I was a trooper and finished it.

Nice lounge though…


Jill picked me up at 11 to go have lunch with Pucci at Jose’s Cantina in Cambridge. Great lunch!


After lunch, we went computer hardware shopping before stopping at Jill’s for installation (her), shower (me) before heading back to the airport.

Back at the lounge, the Mexican theme continues – there is a guy making fresh guacamole!

And one of the two soups being served was Chicken Corn Tortilla!

Return flight is at 6:20, and I’m number five on the upgrade list, so it doesn’t look good – but sometimes, miracles happen!

And even my number two favorite seat (favorite is 1C). Now if they’d just shut the back cabin door since it is turning the jetliner into a wind tunnel – I needed those layers!

Of course, I’d stuffed myself in the lounge, but I ate the dinner they served anyway:

I went for the cod…

My seatmate went for the ravioli…

Not much sleep on the way home…and then Roxy showed up, so, not much sleep in the evening as well.

Only three more mileage runs to go!

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Sun
31
Jan '16

Trip Report:

Pigletté In Vietnam –

Seventh Leg: Saïgon Museums & Markets, First Day

Just a reminder to those readers arriving here from FaceBook. Links from FaceBook
are a direct link to this post, so you miss the previous posts. You can see all the posts by either clicking on the UMTravels banner, or HERE.

Sean took Monday and Tuesday off so those are out museum days…and with him working Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll be making my wondering tours of his neighborhood. Who know where food will end of in this.

First up Is a little breakfast – turns about its cracked rice and chicken – should be a nice base for a day of sightseeing.

Maybe I should have had something other than tea — morning cocktails were $1.50 – were is Magnatroia when you need him!

Next up is a little shopping at one of the oldest Colonial-style
markets left in Saïgon. That would be Bến Thành Market

Getting there through Saïgon traffic is what we need to do first. More on that in the next post, but here is a preview (next post will have scary traffic videos). I’m in the bitch seat on Sean’s scooter wearing a Hello Kitty helmet. It goes with my Hello Kitty watch.

I’ve been to markets like this around the world – lots of touts hawking their wears – I did see an interesting domino set for Salamander – but no real time to look/bargain/haggle – just not into the markets as I once was. Just show me a price, that’s all I want.

I did see some humorous shirts I’ve have gotten if I didn’t know that they would last one washing.

Next up was to swing by the post office – Sean
had wanted stamps, but the lines made it hard – no stamps, but another cool old colonial-style
building.

Across the street is one of the Cathedrals in town:

Alas it being noon, the church wasn’t open to the public, so we settled on one of the oldest Indian-based Hindu Shrine around the corner. Apparently the original member-base were all Indian bank workers.

As mot much is open for lunch, so off to a coffee shop for tea, blood orange bubbly, free Wi-Fi, and clean bathrooms.

Rested, cooled off, relieved we next check into the Reunification Palace, also known as the Independence Palace.
It was a time building that my friend Russ really needs to see – I’m surprised the North didn’t just level it after the war, instead, they turned it into a time-capsule.


It feels like a monument to late 60’s design – love some of the rooms:

And my favorite – the game room with bar…

I think Jill would like this room as well…or maybe the theatre with its chairs:

They even preserved the projection booth:

And if you needed to get out in a hurry, grab a Huey from the roof:

Under fire and can’t get out on the chopper – head to the bunker:

And when the attack is over, have company over and have the catering kitchen whip up a meal – yes, I had kitchen envy:

On the grounds there are examples of the rogue South Vietnam plane that bombed the Independence Palace (a pilot switched sides), that has a black “X” over the country logo:

And one of the tanks that stormed the palace:

Totally museum’d out for day, it’s off for a city tour…Graham Greene wrote “The Quiet American” in this bar of the Hotel Continental, across from the Opera House:

Said Opera House:

Last tourist stop of the day is the top of the tallest building in Vietnam to have a drink. They devote the lowest floor of parking just to scooters!

It was a little convoluted to get to the bar – query the front counter (it’s a mall and food court for the first couple of floors), take an escalator to the reservations desk, be escorted to the elevator to the reception desk on 50, put on another elevator to the 51st) – all to get to a fairly tacky bar with a killer view:

With expensive drinks – by Vietnam standards:

I had a Manhattan – decent ingredient selection, but 220,000 Dong –$9.89 USD, and it was Bulleit Bourbon (I’d have preferred their rye). Plus, add 5% service charge and 10% VAT and you are really at $10.04 a drink. Much more than the $1.50 per cocktail advertised at the restaurant we had breakfast in.

Sean had a beer – also overpriced:

But there is the view:

And the Heliport…

Done with cocktails it’s time to head back to the apartment – I’m meeting up with Ming who I met online. The plan is drinks and appetizers at the apartment which means a run to the “supermarket” around the corner for supplies. Meet Ming – medical equipment salesman:

Never did get a proper meal, but I did check out the Yacht Club Scotch!

It’s “old”, though I doubt as “olde” as me.

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Wed
4
Nov '15

Trip Report: Boston With Friends

My East Coast contingent has been begging for a visit so off I go (it doesn’t take much convincing, just a decent fare and hopefully an upgrade or two).

Paid more than I’d like (close to $500), but I was able to use my last two MVP Gold Upgrades for a guaranteed First Class on the Monday night red-eye to Boston, coming back through Portland on the dinner flight.

Uber’d to the airport since who knows what state I’ll be in on my return.

One of the things I really like about Alaska Airlines is their on-time rate (and best in the US for fuel efficiency):

…had a soup and salad dinner at The Board Room:

That would be (clockwise): green leaf salad with ranch and cheese cubes, molasses cookies (which I packed away for later – actually had a spare zip-lock bag courtesy of the TSA), chili, Yankee pot roast soup, whiskey/diet. On the red-eye, it’s always a crap shoot of what you will get served on-board, definitely not a full meal.

And no, that isn’t a potato, that’s a dark roll to go with the Caesar Salad.

For the first couple of hours the service up front was great, even with just one attendant working the section, but as three quarters of the cabin went to sleep – service quality died. Snack basket make a quick trip down the aisle missing me (had to go ask – and I’m in the first row aisle with the light on. Forget more drinks without asking even though there were several of us waiting TV. It seemed that the Fall Fashion issue of Elle was more important than customer service. And yes, I know flight attendant’s main duty is to protect our safety.

That said, I did log on and leave comments after I returned home about the flights going and coming, and the STARK difference in service levels in the same cabin. I’m used to the crew at American, United, Delta on the red-eyes and long international flights being happier sitting there with their reading material, but not on Alaska (usually). The return crew were all 20 year plus at Alaska and were fantastic on the dinner run from Boston to Portland. In less than 24 hours after my comments were submitted (on a weekend!) I got this response back:

Good Morning Mr. Souder,

Thank you for completing our survey regarding your flight. As a valued passenger, I sincerely apologize that you didn’t receive customer service that met or exceeded your expectations while seated in first class. Being unhelpful or unfriendly, even if it is on a “Red Eye”, is certainly not our norm or something we condone at Alaska Airlines. We strive to provide exemplary service on each and every flight to all of our passengers and it sounds like we fell short.

By taking the time to contact us and giving us your feedback, you have not only given me the opportunity to hear your concerns, but also an opportunity to be proactive in preventing a similar situation from occurring again. I would like to offer you the following compensation of a $50.00 e-certificate which you should expect via email within the next 10 business days.

I am confident that on a future flight you will enjoy the high level of service that Alaska Airlines is known for and that you deserve.

Kind Regards,
Nicole XXXX
Alaska Airlines

And this is another reason I’m a huge Alaska Airlines fan.

Saint Jill picked me up at the airport in Boston on my very early arrival – hence the name, “Saint Jill“.

After a long nap it was out for “loooobsterrrr”….Belle Isle Seafood here we come. Not cheap, but a ton of lobster (could have used just a tiny bit more mayo):

Did a little sightseeing in the afternoon…

Before I started in on dinner called “what’s near the end of its life in Saint Jill’s fridge. The base of ground beef, sautéed onions, peppers, etc.

Then toss in spinach and cheese for a one skillet meal:

Served over spaghetti… not a bad meal, all and all:

Hooked up with Pucci after he got off work – staying there because Saint Jill’s place is small, I snore, and Murphy sheds. Aisling is out of town so it’s a long night of drinking and catching up.

Breakfast/Lunch at Strip T’s – I opted for the Turkey Rubin with Pucci opting for the buttermilk fried chicken:

GREAT pickles – but a seriously non-OSHA bathroom in the basement, labeled with a sign saying, “Use Extreme Caution Using This Restroom” – certainly worthy of a picture:

Yep – the toilet is up several steps.

Pucci needed to go back to work so he dropped me off in Harvard Square where Jill was to meet me for a little culture. Kind of fun hanging out on Harvard Square – under the watchful eyes of Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe right about the Curious George store:

Lovely fall day…

Turns out Netta was also floating around after a doctor’s appointment (same thing as Jill was doing) so we all met up at Starbucks…

Great to hang out and catch up, but soon Jill and I were walking across the quad to the museum:

The Harvard Art Museum was having a showing of a pop artist that Jill likes. Name is Corita Kent…no photos of the exhibition (forbidden) but one of the inside:

All that culture made us want a little snack at The Russell House….

After culture and cuisine, it was time to walk over to Jill’s Mom’s place for cocktails and dinner…forgot to take a shot of her view of The Charles from her 3-bedroom condo, but I did get some food shots!

By the third bottle we finally found an old white that wasn’t off…

Amazingly it was the oldest (2000 Cheverny) that was OK, while the 2004 Pouilly Fume and the 2001 Latour Pouilly Fuse were both off but in different ways. The Cheverny went quite nicely with the Oysters (yes, more oysters) on the half shell:

Followed by some appetizers (grave lox, salamis):

Followed by the salad course (greens, pears, beets, Blue Cheese dressing):

Then the main: (swordfish, roasted potatoes, asparagus):

Then dessert with a lovely 1985 Sauternes:

Why go out when Jill’s mother cooks like this!

Back to Pucci’s after dinner – and in the morning Jill swung by to take me lunch and then to the airport – lunch Greek at Demos. This would be the lamb shish kebab salad.

After doing a little more sightseeing – like the Mystic Brewing in Chelsie:

Yes, I drank be, 4 different 4 ounce samples. Then it was off to the airport.

Contrary to rumors, terminal C for Alaska isn’t too great – they are off in a little wing with its own TSA checkpoint and little in the way of food/drink:

I had to walk to Terminal B to use the American Admirals Club – which is huge and the food good:

But, it’s a 15 minute walk in each direction. Oh well, walking is good for me. And there was also good food on the dinner flight home starting with a nice salad:

Then the main course:

And ending with dessert:

Not a direct flight home – I connected in Portland. Good thing I took a cab home!

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Tue
17
Feb '15

Trip Report: The One I Let Get Away

A couple of years ago I did the Star MegaDo 5 (you REALLY should click on that link) –the penultimate aviation geekdom event. Even more than AvGeek (http://www.airlinereporter.com/2015/01/aviation-geek-fest-2015/) here in Seattle that sold out in 90 seconds for hundreds of places. Fico and I were there in I think 2010. Wish I could find the photo of Fico and I in front of a 777 engine.

Soooooo, there was another Star MegaDo announced on Monday. Initial email: 647am PST with a “Tickets On Sale” time of noon CST. Less than four hours, and I sleep late.

The itinerary? ARN > TLS > LGW > LHR

Stockholm > Toulouse > London Gatwick > London Heathrow

So, there is a group flight (not mandatory) from ORD to ARN, hopefully with a group rate. And then there is the schedule:

5/09 Saturday

12:00 PM

ORD

Optional: US send-off event

For participants joining us from the US: we are planning a brief send-off event at Chicago O’Hare. Details will be communicated soon.

05:00 PM

ORD/ARN

Optional: Transatlantic flight

Participants who fly from the US depart Chicago O’Hare on the Star Alliance MegaDO party flight. The exact schedule and details on the group rate will be communicated shortly. You are not required to fly on the official transatlantic flight and/or use the group fare in order to join the MegaDO. Feel free to book your own flights at your convenience. See the FAQ for more information.

5/10 Sunday

10:00 AM

ARN

Arrival in Stockholm

Participants who fly from the US arrive in Stockholm Arlanda. (Exact schedule TBD)

07:00 PM

Kitchen & Table, ARN

Optional: Welcome dinner

Optional welcome dinner at Kitchen & Table at Arlanda Airport, Clarion hotel – an awesome restaurant with spectacular views. (45 attendees max – we will provide a separate booking link for those who are interested.)  

5/11 Monday

08:00 AM

Radisson Blu SkyCity Arlanda

Breakfast and registration

Welcome breakfast and event registration.

10:00 AM

SAS HQ

A day with SAS

The SMD6 official program starts with a full day with SAS Scandinavian Airlines. Buses will depart the Radisson Blu SkyCity Arlanda at 10am.

07:00 PM

Radisson Blu SkyCity Arlanda

Welcome reception

Evening reception and charter flight check-in for passengers with carry-ons only.

5/12 Tuesday

04:30 AM

Radisson Blu SkyCity Arlanda

Breakfast

Good morning! Breakfast is served from 4:30am.

09:00 AM

ARN

Official SMD6 charter

The official SMD charter flight, operated by a SAS 737-800 with 183 seats, departs Stockholm Arlanda! (Check-in closes at 8:15am for passengers with baggage.)  

12:00 PM

TLS

Arrival in Toulouse

The official SMD6 charter flight arrives in Toulouse, France (TLS).

02:00 PM

Airbus

A350 assembly line tour

Witness the future of aviation! An exclusive insiders’ tour of the A350 Final Assembly Line. (Transportation by bus from/to the airport.)

05:00 PM

TLS

Charter departs from Toulouse

The SMD6 charter flight departs from Toulouse. On to London!

06:00 PM

LGW

Arrival in London

The SMD6 charter flight arrives at London Gatwick Airport (LGW). Transportation to London by Gatwick Express (pre-paid tickets will be arranged.)

08:00 PM

The May Fair

An evening with Club Carlson

A very exclusive reception at the Club Carlson flagship property, the luxurious The May Fair in London.

5/13 Wednesday

06:30 AM

The May Fair

Breakfast

10:00 AM

LHR

A day with Star Alliance at LHR T2

A day with Star Alliance at the brand new London Heathrow Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal – the alliance’s biggest investment in a long time. Enjoy behind the scenes tours and meet Mark Schwab, President and CEO of Star Alliance. The event starts at 10am. Transportation to LHR is not included in the charter price – see the FAQ for details.

03:00 PM

LHR

Program concludes

The official SMD program concludes, but for many, the party continues! We have not scheduled official flights to the US. Feel free to book the flight of your choice on your own or using the group rate. Details on the group rate will be announced soon. See the FAQ for details.

 

As much as I loved the last MegaDo, my Million Mile Status on one airplane puts me at the bottom of the people there, though I did get an interesting business contact with RocketMiles which I’ve bid some direct mail jobs with.

And then there is the price:

Economy $999.00
Business Class $1799.00 (blocked middle seat – the European carriers, SAS in this case, often have odd Intra-Europe seating configuarations)
Exit row $1,499.00 (blocked middle seat)

A little rich for my blood considering I was in Stockholm last year and stayed in a converted 747 turned into a hostel (https://blog.unclemarkie.com/2014/08/03/trip-report-the-long-road-home/) and I’ve been to the Airbus Plant in Toulouse (thanks Jill for putting up with my obsession). I haven’t seen the new T2 at Heathrow, but trust me, it’s a hub, and I’ll be through there.

And it’s a weekend. I can negotiate maybe 3-4 a year with my business partner.

And I’d have to get to either Chicago or Stockholm, and home from London.

I blew all my banked miles (75,000 on Alaska and 75,000 on United for my all Business Class round the world flight in March when I visit my ex and my nephew in JapanLand. 777-300ER, Seattle to Dubai; after an overnight, a 777-200ER Dubai to Haneda (the close in Tokyo airport [with car service on both ends, so they say]). 8 days in Japan between two cities, then back on an ANA flight from Nagoya to Narita, then a 787-8 Business Class flight from Narita to Seattle.

Sounded like fun. Drunken fun – the flights are triple catered with free booze. And then there is the food, and the party atmosphere. I’m I’m sure I’d see people from the last one.

Guessing tickets are gone. Just as well.

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Fri
12
Dec '14

Trip Report: Detroit To See Auntie (Part One)

Early out of the house. Early to the airport. No upgrade – checked for the upgrade starting Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday, and gave up and checked into my seat in 6D. Bulkhead. Light load so I had the middle seat open.

And then the “miracle” happened – they were about to close the door and the flight attendant “gave me the look” and pointed at Seat 1C (my favorite). Before I knew it, gone was the prospect of the Buy On Board breakfast strata (good by the way) and it was the freebie menu:

That said, the “Turkey Sausage Eggs Benedict” was a little odd…

And no salt and pepper… they forgot to plate it. And you can see my freebie Digi-Player where I watched half a season of Season 6 of The Big Bang Theory.

Got to Detroit, grabbed my bag, grabbed my rental car, and headed off to visit my Auntie Norma for a couple of nights. And see some sights.

Got settled in and then we were off to Miller’s Bar for burgers (there goes the diet). Auntie is looking good!

We got settled and she texted her buddy Dan The Drummer Man to tell him where we are (it is one of their haunts after choir practice) and he showed up and helped us finish the fries and the onion rings. Great times, that continued back at the house. Dan’s a couple of years younger than me, but with more baggage (ex-wife, children, etc.)

Up at 8:30 (thanks Norma for the coffee) and after some deviled eggs (easier than cooking) it was off to the The Henry Ford Museum and the Rouge F-150 Truck Plant Tour.

Highlights: The Museum, or at least a small portion of it…

The 1952 Weiner Mobile.

 

They even had a cute little machine to Mold-A-Rama your own little Henry Ford Museum
Weiner Mobile:

And here is a little video of how it works:

Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House made by the Cessna Aircraft Factory in Wichita, Kansas:

And the interior of said house:

And the Rosa Park bus:

And the interior of said bus:

And the row of Presidential Limousines….The Roosevelt

The Truman:

The Kennedy:

The Reagan:

Plus some fun signage…

And LOTS of cars, trucks, you name it:

And my favorite exhibit of all, the 1930’s Urinal Stand – OK, it WAS in the bathroom:

Took the bus over to the Rouge Truck Plant which produces the new all-aluminum Ford F-150 – you know I love a good factory tour (ask Jill about the Airbus Plant Tour in Toulouse, France). The routine is:

  • Bus to the plant
  • Theatre Number 1 – The Ford History with a seriously glossed over Ford/Union segment
  • Theatre Number 2 – The new F-150 told as a Vegas-style show
  • Observation Deck – The only place other than the car display where photographs are allowed
  • The Plant Tour – DEFINATLY no photos here, though thoroughly interesting

The only photo:

The Rouge plant itself dates from 1917 (completed in 1928), covers 1.5 miles x 1 mile, has its own deep-water port, electrical power plant, and was designed as the first integrated auto manufacturing plant, from iron-ore coming in the front door to make steel, its own glass plant, a tire plant, the works (as they say).

After the tour, missed a turn getting back to Aunties (it’s only .5 miles from The Henry Ford) and stumbled onto a store that she mentioned taking me to – beat her to it. Merchants Fine Wine (and other things):

Where I found a bottle of Evan Williams to replace what Dan The Drummer Man and I killed last night, and a couple of interesting Vermouths that I haven’t tried before:

  1. Stones Original Ginger from the UK ($13.99)
  2. Vermute Lacuestra Rojo from Spain ($15.99)

Haven’t tried them yet, but will add to the stack of things Jim and I need to try.

Dinner tonight at the Elmhurst Taproom – home of the clam stew (and other things):

And the Greek Salad with beets (apparently VERY common in Michigan). We each ordered one, we should have split one:

And the MASSIVE amount of Mussels for $14:

Finished working off Auntie’s “Honey Do” list – just like visiting Mom! – after dinner.

Tomorrow, the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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Sun
2
Nov '14

Activity Report: My Week At Home

This was a stay at home week for me, between last week’s trip to Santa Fe and next week’s cruise to Mexico. Did I lay around and eat all the Halloween candy? Nope, it was project week.

Project Number One: Vermouth Rack For The Shop

Madrona Wine Merchants is less than 500-square-feet, yet we have over 650 different brands that we stock, and we’d like to stock more, so we need to get creative with our shelving. In this case I had to build a shelf unit to go over a small rack of white wines that has a water pipe running through it.

The finished project, with a little bourbon and ginger spilled on it:

And installed in the shop:

Project Number Two: Behind The Counter Storage Rack

If you ever have looked behind the counter at Madrona Wine Merchants, it’s a jumble of stuff randomly packed in. My quest is that before the Holiday Rush that we get a little more organized so we can find things quickly. Hence, this odd organizer that I built to extend the cash wrap to the post where the vermouth is now hanging. The drawers are made from wood salvaged from the tops of wooden wine boxes that we occasionally get in:

And installed at the shop:

Project Number Three: Install Back Board For 1A2 Analog Phone System & KSU (Key Service Unit)

I’m upgrading my “Mad Men” style analog phone system so that all four phones will have lights and the ability to mechanically put calls on hold. This, of course, means actually putting in more infrastructure than just the KSU that I currently have which is only wired up for one phone – this one:

And here is what the infrastructure looks like:

And I still have to pull all the wires under the house before the “punch-down” can begin.

And then there is the social side of a week home…

Sunday night dinner with Bliss, Monday night dinner with Wonderful, Josh, and Jill:

Tuesday night dinner with former neighbor Emily, current neighbor Paula (who was air rescued out of the woods a couple of weeks ago after getting lost hiking with her two dogs), and Jonathan after installing the new 42″ flat screen that I picked up for $299 ($333 with tax and shipping) that fits in the same footprint as my 32″, but is half the weight.

We (Jonathan and I) also relocated the swing arm mount so that not only can I watch from the couch, but it swings so I can watch from the bedroom, and as of the relocation, I can now watch from the kitchen as well:

Thursday and Friday morning filled with helping Jonathan move from his storage locker into an apartment. Upside is that it’s right next to the Two Bells Tavern, known for its burgers (which I order two for take-out):

With a Manhattan while I waited (and their house bourbon is Evan Williams Black!)

It was amazing to me that someone who was homeless two months ago could have so much stuff in storage. Thursday afternoon he filled the 14-foot UHaul to the top, and Friday’s load was another quarter of the same UHaul – all headed into a studio apartment:

Now imagine that space filled to the top – and here is what the apartment looks like now:

Kitchen above, living room below…

And doesn’t even show the three closets and the mechanics rolling tool chest in the hallway. Whew!

It being Halloween that means its shop duty time. It takes three of us to handle the crowds. Here are the stats from 5-7PM…

  • Out of our 130 wine and champagne glasses – we had 10 clean ones at the end of the day
  • Over 200 pieces of candy handed out
  • Four bottles of tasting wine emptied

Maybe it was my outfit…

Busy week – looking forward to relaxing next week.

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Tue
16
Sep '14

Trip Report: Cabo Postscript.

When Roxy flew into Cabo San Lucas International Airport….

His plane took a more westerly approach to dodge Hurricane Norbert so he could land on Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning the airport was buffeted by winds…. Here the wikipedi description of Norbert:

The NHC began monitoring a large area of disturbed weather in association with a trough of low pressure near the south-central coast of Mexico on August 31.[111] Amid a favorable atmospheric environment, the disturbance steadily organized and was acquired sufficient organization to be declared Tropical Storm Norbert at 15:00 UTC on September 2.[112] The cyclone moved generally northwestward following formation, steered on the southwestern side of a mid-level ridge over northern Mexico.[113] With a symmetric central dense overcast and curved bands wrapping into the center, Norbert was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at 03:00 UTC on September 4.[114] Initially steady state, the cyclone began a period of rapid deepening early on September 5, becoming a Category 2 hurricane at 00:00 UTC and a Category 3 hurricane at 06:00 UTC.[115][116] After attaining peak winds of 120 mph (195 km/h), the effects of cooler ocean temperatures began to weaken the system. Norbert weakened below major hurricane intensity at 21:00 UTC on September 6 and below hurricane intensity at 15:00 UTC on September 7.[117][118] After lacking deep, organized convection for over 12 hours, Norbert was declared post-tropical cyclone at 09:00 UTC on September 8.[119]

By the time I arrived on Monday, Norbert was a distant thought, a little beach swell, but no flooding.

For our week in Cabo, the weather was mid-80’s with some humidity, so basically I hung out here:

For FIVE DAYS… just bring me food and booze – OK, it wasn’t that bad, but close. My feet never touched the sand or any beach/pool water.

I left on Friday morning (well, from the resort, afternoon from the airport), but wen Roxy left on Saturday, the waves from the next storm were already lapping at the beaches….

Thanks Roxy for the FaceBook shot that I stole for this post.

Apparently Roxy and I both got out in time… because Hurricane Odile was a duzzy”:

On September 7, the NHC began monitoring disorganized convection in association with a trough several hundred miles south of the Mexico coastline.[120] The disturbance gradually organized within an environment of moderate northeasterly wind shear, and it acquired sufficient organization to be declared a tropical depression at 0900 UTC on September 10.[121] Six hours later, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Odile.[122] Over the coming days, only slow intensification occurred as upper-level winds remained unfavorable; by early on September 13, however, the satellite presentation began to change quickly, with the center fully embedded within a central dense overcast. In conjunction with satellite intensity estimates, the cyclone was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at 09:00 UTC.[123] Odile then began a period of rapid deepening, becoming a Category 2 hurricane at 00:00 UTC,[124] a Category 3 hurricane at 06:00 UTC,[125] and a Category 4 hurricane at 09:00 UTC on September 14.[126] After reaching peak winds of 135 mph (215 km/h), the start of an eyewall replacement cycle caused the system to weaken to a Category 3 hurricane.[127]

Thanks again Wikipedia.

Reports mentioned Cabo Villas where we were staying – distressed honeymooning couple, flooded Hiltons, etc.

Here is the report from the honeymoon couple….http://abcnews.go.com/us/hurricane-turns-cabo-honeymoon-nightmare-family/story?id=25513418

This would be up e beach (north) from where Roxy and I were staying…..but a short stroll….

Dodged two storms – reminds me of a trip with Jillar where we cancelled and moved our holiday to Sonoma.

And it feels weird to be making this post t 35,000 feet over the Denver Airport (according to the Captain)

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Tue
29
Jul '14

Trip Report: An Irish Wedding.

Part three of my Irish Saga. The real reason for my trip to Ireland – the wedding of one Mark J. Pucci.

A lovely train ride from Dublin’s Connolly Station to the town of Bray in County Wicklow. Popped into a taxi for the ride to Enniskerry and the Summer Hill House Hotel where the wedding is scheduled. I’ve booked in for two nights.

You guessed it – swiped off their site, somehow I forgot to get a picture of the main building. I’m out back in the Courtyard Units:

Perfectly functional room, complete with balcony (but no chairs). Downside is that there are no Wi-Fi repeaters in this building so I have to go to the main building to get access – and even then, it’s not great Expect TripAdvisor review. But the view of the Irish countryside is nice….

The first night’s activities were drinks in Enniskerry at Mac’s Bar at the Powerscourt Arms followed by dinner next door at the The Relaxing & Classic Lounge. Here is “downtown” Enniskerry:

And me in Mac’s Bar hoisting my first Paddy’s Irish Whiskey of the evening:

And the fair-haired Groom making the “time for dinner” announcement:

And my dinner of Fish and Chips, oddly served with salad and mashed peas – we are in Ireland after all:

And a selfie with Jill and her mother, Norma (who also all had the Fish and Chips):

It was a late evening – stayed up drinking until two with one of the other US-based wedding guests – put a HUGE dent in the Paddy’s I’d brought for the occasion.

The wedding was the next afternoon – an outdoor wedding – which has only become legal in the last couple of weeks – you still have to “rent a room” to sign the documents in – guessing to protect all the hotels. Lovely weather, if a bit on the hot side. Charming ceremony which included multiple quotes by Rumi, very humanist.

Pictures of Mark and Aisling tying the knot:

And the food – choice of pork or salmon. I took the slightly overcooked pork…

One of Aisling’s pals made the cake (which was gluten free if I remember correctly):

Another long evening of drinking the Paddy’s on the rocks – and considering that I have a 5:15am wake-up call for a 5:40am cab ride to Bray to catch a 6:30am bus to the airport – I really should have stopped sooner.

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