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Jun '22

Trip Report: A Couple Of Nights In The Woods – Getting There

I needed some time out of the house, even though it is summer and nothing is cheap, assuming you can even book it.

More atmospheric rivers expected for the Northwest, so it was the Escapé not the Miata…

Even did a little modification to the Escapé to make an extra drink holder!

It’s the stand for the laptop table that came with the car from an auction.

Lunch at Ivar’s on the way to Mount Rainier…

And the strangest sign spinner I’ve ever seen – Puppies?

Apparently, there is a place in the strip mall called Pupplyland….with puppy mills illegal in Washington as of 2021, they claim to be a “broker” between “breeders” and hopeful owners, that happens to offer financing of said sad puppies. According to Dan, they do not get good reviews.

Close to Rainier we stopped in Elbe, home to Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway (see blog post from several years ago) for a pit stop.

Before long we were a the park entrance, my Senior Pass in hand.

And soon to The National Park Inn at Longmire:

Two twin beds, shared bath down the hall set us back about $151.20 a night plus taxes on the AAA rate.

The beds were surprisingly comfortable for the spartan environment. Marriot Hotel worthy. Towels were big and soft, and because we had shared facilities, they gave us robes and slippers. Though, the slipper were a little odd, but you could also use them as shower boots so it makes sense.

There is a Hotel Guest Lounge…

Before dinner we wandered around the village – OK, I wandered, Dan went running.

Had dinner in the dining room. With COVID, staffing issues, it was a reduced menu and they were out of half the entrees, but at least they had a nightly special that worked for us.

As I said in my 2016 blog entry (link above), “Dinner was good, not “write home” excellent” – so that hasn’t changed.

We both were ready to turn in around ten – at least we could brush our teeth in the room!

To be continues tomorrow, or sometime.


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May '22

Home Report: Company In Town

Odd that I have a Sunday off, and I’m actually in town. Couple of weeks of working full time give me the excuse – and a friend returning from three weeks in Italy.

Where do we start our day, why at the transfer station dumping 150# of empty wine bottles!

But then we had some fun at The Museum of Flight…

And then some chainsaw fun – heard the neighbor running his and ask him to whack some of my stuff back!

And finishing with a Pork Tenderloin from Loretta’s that someone said was the “size of a head”:

They forgot the top bun, but with the fries, we didn’t need it.

Random day with company in the city.


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May '22

Trip Report: Whistler First Time Since Pandemic

Before the pandemic, I would visit Whistler 3-4 times a summer – getting the summer lift pass and just riding around the mountains. I almost cried as I approached Whistler this time.

Was an overcast day a little on the cool side, so the heater was on full blast.

I was shocked that there was a line at the border!

I was even more shocked when I couldn’t find my NEXUS card – apparently I’d dropped it at Duty Free. Was VERY SURPRISED when they let me through the NEXUS lane with just my passport. He asked my phone number and then my name. ArrivCAN which everyone must fill out was in the system with my NEXUS number in it. Not even a secondary inspection!

Just north of Horseshoe Bay where I stopped to take these shots, it started to lightly rain. Time to put the top up.

Glad that I wasn’t headed back into Vancouver on the Monday of a three-day holiday.

Stopped in Squamish for groceries and bubbles—and by the time I was done, the sun was out so the top went back down.

I think this falls in the category of “crimes against nature”. Banana-infused Bourbon. Yuck!

I was joined the first night by parts of my extended family:

They were only up for one full night, then left after an early dinner Tuesday – which meant shopping for supplies in Whistler Village, a short stroll away.

I left the boys to continue their stroll and took the groceries home. I thought the hot tub sounded better:

I had to head back on Wednesday morning at 6am (up at 5am) to open the shop at noon – business partner still testing positive for COVID. I’d already hacked off one night to a Thursday doctor appointment. Sigh.

Gloomy on the way back…

Hoping to be back at the end of June for another few days.


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May '22

Home Report: Mental Health Day Trip To The Museum Of Flight

Was feeling blue today so decided to do a Mental Health Day Trip to the Museum of Flight. Many thanks to Jonathan who got the family membership and added me.

Didn’t spend much time in the Main Gallery:

Headed over to the B-52 Pavilion since it was a lovely warmish spring day.

I always have to walk through the Concorde they have on display to remember how small they are inside. I have flown on a BA Concorde, in January of 2002.

The joke about the Concorde is that you needed to decide if you were peeing or pooping because the bathrooms are so small that you can’t turn around in them.

A couple of new things at the pavilion, like a FedEx sponsored display about air cargo:

This is a laydown “seat” for monitoring/controlling instruments that they could pull behind the 747.

And you finally get to walk through the first ever 747-100 which was used as a test bed. Fascinating!

Other random bits – the Pavilion is connected to the Raisback Aviation High School:

And in the building devoted to space travel, with a mock-up of the space shuttle they used for training, a schedule of upcoming launches:

Skipped the WWI/WWII this trip.

When headed back to the main museum (pavilion is across the street with the shuttle exhibit), MASSIVE police escort that ended at the main entrance driveway:

Guessing it was related to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Seattle today.

Final note, which they had these in an XXL because I would have bought one for Jonathan as a thank you.

Always take care of your mental health, even if it means asking for help.


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Apr '22

Trip Report: Discovery Bay To See A Grave

A little domestic travel this time.

Been a while since I’ve been on a ferry!

The Miata gets a discounted rate since it’s under 14 feet. WooHoo.

Four nights at the WorldMark Discovery Bay…nice view!

No shots of the 2-bedroom unit, just the bar:

Hopefully we have enough to drink – though the boys will be bringing two bottles of duty-free whiskey as well.

One cocktail hour I made Japanese Whiskey Highballs, which called for Grapefruit rind. Yummy.

Yes, the box came with a cute set of coasters.

The purpose of this trip was to hang out with the boys, and to visit a grave. Odd thing to do on a holiday, but…

So, why Joe Rantz?

The Boys In The Boat, a book, and later a movie about the University of Washington’s crew team made up of loggers and farm kids that one a Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics Games presided over by Hitler. Made more poignant for me was that I finished the book while I was in Berlin this last September; even drove by the Olympic Stadium. You can find that blog post here.

We are joined by my extended family who lives in Sequim a mere five minutes from the cemetery.

After the cemetery, we went to the Sequim Museum where they have an exhibit about the Olympic team.

Joe is in the center.

For a small own museum, it had very high-quality displays, with lots of AV/interactive equipment – like a screen with the winning race.

There are other things like mammoth tusks, and old vehicles…

And before I knew it, I was back on a ferry home.

That’s it for the day.

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Apr '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Eight, The Seriously Long Way Home

Well, it all started good….

Nice lounge, and then onto the plane:

And more food:

Quick hop from Barcelona to Madrid.

After my arrival, things went south, quickly. Got tested at the airport for the flight the next day and tested positive for COVID.

I probably sat on the airport floor for half an hour going, I’m fucked, I’m fucked.

Regaining a bit of my composure, got a cab to the hotel I had already reserved to figure out my plan.

Hello, Crown Plaza Madrid Airport:

After switching rooms, settled in:

Before I could concentrate, I needed food. Hello, room service!

Refueled, I started making plans for self-quarantine…5-days according to what I read about Spanish rules.

Things to do:

  • Extend hotel stay
  • Book new tickets for following Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Book backup hotels Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday
  • Book hotel in Vancouver, BC in case I have to come back into the country through Canada, which drops its testing requirement on Friday (meaning I’d take the bus back over the US border)

It is times like this that having miles/points with several airlines and hotel comes in handy.

But the long and the short of it is that I’m stuck mostly in my room for five days. Here is my view:

At least I get to see the planes take off and land…

Not as nice a view as the TWA Hotel at JFK, but at least I had room service. I quickly figured out which meals could be saved to get a day’s worth of food – large portions they served.

Needless to say, 5 days of hotel and room service weren’t in my travel budget. At least I’m racking up points. Sigh.

Five days of watching TV news, which in Europe is Ukraine 24/7 since it’s in their back yard. The only English-language stuff on the telly was news, and I could only take so much.

On day five I got out the Antigen tests that I travel with – they are proctored via video, so they are good to get back into the US.

Longest 15 minutes of my life waiting for the result.


Even though it was just a little after noon, I headed to the restaurant and ordered a Negroni to go. Whilst waiting, spied a convoy from the Spanish Truckers Protest slowly rolling down the freeway next to the hotel:

Back in the room, cocktail in hand, it was time to cancel bunches of flights and hotel reservations….

Actually, went to the restaurant for dinner, and had the worst meal of the many days.

Forgot to get the dressing on the side, and there was too much. Another Negroni helped. Side note, there is a lot of cross-training of staff at this hotel – my server tonight was one of the people that checked me in at the beginning of my stay.

My business class seat on Iberia down the drain, I booked Economy on American to Philadelphia (and because of my Alaska status, I get the extra legroom seats), connecting onto Alaska to Seattle – who actually upgraded my MILEAGE ticket to first. But, as with me, there is always lounge access:

Was a little surprised at the number of flights direct to the US:

Booked bulkhead aisle interior:

But as the plane didn’t fill, got myself moved to a window seat with the two seats next to me open:

Up in the air, I was surprised about the tastiness of the dinner service:

And my view for the next many hours:

So I settled in an started watching movies. Started with Biloxi Blues, followed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (both with Matthew Broderick):

And then Up In The Air with George Clooney.

Didn’t really sleep on the Madrid-Philadelphia leg. Started feeling the effects in the American Lounge in Philly:

More food on the Philadelphia to Seattle flight. Went to sleep as we took off, when I woke, they brought me the food I’d preordered.

So sapped that I only had one cocktail in the 6-hour flight. Went right back to sleep after the food.

Home by 10:30pm, but it was a long day.

SERIOUSLY glad to be home.


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Apr '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Seven, Alta Alella Cellars

Not far out of town, there is this beautiful, albeit small, winery that one of my distributors was able to set up a tour with Alta Alella:

With my host working his restaurant, we had set up a 4pm tasting and tour. Add to our party my friend since college who splits her time between Walla Walla and Barcelona (yes, an odd combination).

The parking was a bit from the front gate, which was a bit from the tasting room…

But well worth the walk.

Our hosts, Francesc and Xavi. Xavi is going to be our guide through the property.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a Cadillac Escalade to be our tour transport.

Amazingly hilly, hence the four-wheel drive.

And then into the industrial heart of the winery:

They age in Stainless Steel, Concrete Eggs, Clay Amphora, the works:

And then there is one of their cellars – about 50% of their production is in Sparkling Wine:

These are for the high-end vintage-dated sparklings, we didn’t get to see where the majority of their bottling and storage is (guessing much less romantic). This is where they house examples of ALL of their bottlings over the years.

And then there was the owner’s residence (which wasn’t on the tour):

And then it was on to the tasting!!!

Yes, we tried a few things. Amazing range, and all delightful.

And a few shots on the way out – what a lovely day.

A lovely endcap to my time in Barcelona.

Headed home in the morning.


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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Six, Barcelona

It’s lovely having friends plopped around the world. It makes keeping in touch on a deeper level possible than just email/FacePlant. My major stops on the Spain trip are to visit my ex-pat friends. Happy to have the floor, a couch, even a bedroom. More time to spend with the people I love.

Let the feasting begin with lunch!

As usual, too much food!

Fortunately, not this:

Spent my first two nights next door to my hosts at the Praktick Garden Hotel. I’m not the only company in town this weekend.

Small, but clean, and good coffee in the mornings! Looks like they used to have a little buffet set up, but, you know, COVID.

Seems that Spain revolves around food…not a bad thing. Sunday’s dinner out was Prix Fixe Japanese:

Sunday we were off to the countryside for more… you guessed it, food. Not the best of weather.

But first, a little Vermut since it isn’t time for our reservation:

And then onto food and wine!

And because one of the boys has a sweet tooth (not me, just bring another cocktail):

And then coffee….

Back in the car to explore an old town nearby…

And later, a little walk around Barcelona…

Moved in with the boys on Monday when the girls returned to Vienna. They have a lovely place….

Lunch one day with a long-time friend who splits her time between Barcelona and Walla Walla (yes, an odd combination):

Dinner at home with the boys tonight – host is a FABULOUS chef:

Yes, he has a BBQ on his back deck – he IS an ex-pat after all.

Even his quickie breakfasts are a treat:

Oh, and he owns a restaurant in the district with the Hermes, Channel, etc. shops…

The above shots were taken AFTER they closed for the day. When I arrived, there was barely a table for me.

I had the Royal Slider (beef tenderloin and foie gras) with rosé. Yum.

On the way home, we had a wander through one of the local Mercado.

Food, and MORE FOOD!

That’s it for Barcelona. Tomorrow’s post is all about the winery we went to just outside town.

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Five, Train To Barcelona

The upside is that there is a direct train from Granada to Barcelona – the downside is that it leaves at 8am in the morning. Arrives 2:20pm, so, at least THAT is good.

I booked the middle class – bigger seats, but no food included:

And a café car is included:

Topped out at 300kmh on some sections.

What a lovely concept of train, sadly missing from the US. Sigh.

Tomorrow post: Barcelona!

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Four, Granada

Hello Granada – home to friends who moved here from Seattle, and I’m there first guest! Must be important as they met me at the airport.

The cab can’t get all the way to their house, but close:

And before long, the food and wine was flowing….

Arrived on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon we were off for a tour of Alhambra – world famous complex of castles and fortresses.

Not going to be able to see it all today…another reason to return to Granada!

Lovely day for a tour – a bit breezy, but OK in the sun.

But the star of the show is the Alhambra itself, which requires a separate ticket.

So many more pictures, so little bandwidth!

Finished our tour with wine and food at the Hotel America…

Then more sightseeing on the way down the hill:

I swear the rest of my time in Barcelona was spent in various squares drinking wine and eating tapas! Buy a glass of wine, they bring you a nibble:

Or eating fabulous meals at their place:

And the final meal was rabbit – which took Randy two days to find with a trucker’s strike happening in Spain.

A wonderful 4-days, 3-nights with dear friends.

Off to Barcelona in the morning.

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Three, Hopping The Pond

Waiting to check-in, I noticed these abandoned signs.

A sad reminder of what is happening in Ukraine, and how the world might be melting down.

Checked out of the hotel at 4 but check in didn’t open until five even though I had checked in online. At least there was a lounge waiting for me on the other side of security.

One of the joys of top level OneWorld membership is access to the First-Class Lounge, even if I’m just in Business.

With COVID, the menus are gone are replaced by QR codes, though I ordered the Manhattan from the bartender:

Which was followed by other things…roasted beet burrata salad with a little champagne…

Butternut squash ravioli with a Nigroni….

Life is hard. Lots of flights leaving tonight…

Soon enough it was time to board and snuggle into my pod…

And, of course, have MORE food and drink. White wine with the appetizer…

Red wine with the main…

Sherry with the cheese course…

And Scotch with the movie course.

Started with Sunset Boulevard and moved onto Key Largo.

And then into bed mood before being woken up with a light breakfast course…

Got to Madrid 15 minutes early but lost any lounge time by arriving at the far end of the international terminal, huge lines at immigration, then a terminal change, and being at the far end of that terminal.

A tiny plane where I had to check my computer bag – fortunately my big bag was checked all the way through to my destination. No business class on THIS flight!

But at least I’m in Granada, Spain…

And I have this to show for it. My first stamp in my new passport:

Next post will be Granada!

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Two, Stopover At JFK

When you use miles to get a frequent flyer ticket in the front of the plane, you take whatever crappy routing they give you – which, in my case, meant an overnight at JFK before my flight to Spain.

Lemons into lemonade – a chance to stay at the TWA Hotel.

The short story of the hotel is that it utilizes the head house of the TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by the architect Eero Saarinen. The TWA Hotel project added two buildings on either side of the existing building adding 518 hotel rooms. And this is where I’m staying in a runway view room which you can book late check out in two-hour increments. I set my checkout for 4PM.

And then there is the interior of the main building…

And then there is my Runway View room….

Interesting side notes about the room:

  • No coffee maker
  • No alarm clock
  • Order ice when you check in
  • Mini-bar empty (COVID-related)
  • There was only ONE glass in the room, albeit, a very nice glass for a hotel
  • There was only ONE chair at that long desk, which just seemed “odd”

Interesting notes about hotel services:

  • No room service
  • Various “food court” options in the lobby, some open 24/7
  • Several restaurants on premise, not inexpensive
  • TWA memorabilia store
  • Museum (pictures above)
  • 24-hour gym
  • “Connie” Bar (the airplane outside) is open as a bar from 4pm-10:30pm

Yes, a coney dog is available in the Food Court.

And the most interesting feature of the hotel, the rooftop pool and Après Ski Cocktail Hut:

But as an AvGeek, the big draw is the plane spotting!

And for the history buffs, Eero Saarinen office recreation, and a mid-century room:

Well folks, that was my night at the TWA Hotel at JFK. Not cheap, but on the bucket list.

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part One, Getting Across The Continent

Packing things to take to Spain that aren’t mine:

Friends from Seattle moved to Granada, Spain and there are some things they can’t get there. Got it all in my bag WITHOUT expanding the gusset!

Here is the flight plan:


Another lounge in Portland…

Drinks and a movie:

Dinner of Korean Short Ribs:

JFK Sky Train to one terminal over, and my iconic hotel for the night:

Short post tonight (for me, early afternoon for Seattle).

More adventures tomorrow.

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Mar '22

Trip Report: Winter Mileage Runs

These mileage runs were planned months ago, though like everything, some things change – like staffing shortages completely cancelling a second RDU (Raleigh-Durham) run.

This isn’t ALL the flying I’ve been doing this year, just the ones where I fly someplace, get off the plane, reboard the same plane and come home. Rache was with me on three out of the four of these.

The total flight distance for these flights is 19,978 flight miles which is 22 miles short of Alaska MVP Silver. Of course, I’m going for at least Alaska MVP Gold 75K, if not 100K.

Sometimes upgrades, sometimes not…this is not:

This is:

And beautiful views…

And this is the hotel I’m staying in in a couple of weeks – the TWA Hotel!

Food on the plane:

Food in the Lounges:

As opposed to Decomposed Cucumber Salad?

And the occasional furry seatmate, Louie:

And then there is the filthy loot at the end:

Additional note – I was tempted to jump on this plane while in Boston and go the boyfriend:

And the last shot of the day, just another mascot:

That’s it for the Winter Mileage Runs this year. Here’s hoping for at least 75K Status so I can keep getting upgrades – 6 out of the 8 legs I got upgraded. Damn Fort Lauderdale, never going back!

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Feb '22

Trip Report: Frozen Denver

Sometimes, it’s easier to just up the hardware and fly to your software/hardware dude. Hence why I’m flying to Denver when the temperatures in Denver are in the single digits.

Let’s start with a really bad lounge full portrait…

But soon enough was up in the clouds (the Caesar helped)…

Got upgrade to First with enough time to order the Pho Plate – which was so good I got on the Alaska Listens app to tell them!

Did I mention it was going to be cold in Denver?

I brought my project to work on with Dan:

Now we just have to get the screen scaled correctly to make my dream World Clock.

Dan had his own project going with his 3D printer:

I’d been considering a 3D printer, but now that I’ve seen the hassle of getting it set up and dialed in, nope – will ask Dan to print anything I need.

With all the geek work and not leaving the apartment since it’s brutally cold, we started eating like dorm room teenagers…

Though, in all fairness, that was homemade Japanese Mile Bread.

When I said we didn’t leave the apartment, I even had booze delivered in to make Empress Gin Martinis!

That would be a little fancy for dorm room teens.

One we did make a bunch of progress on the World Clock…

In the blank space under the times will go a scrolling news feed and a scrolling stock/commodity feed.

But not this week.

It was a quick two nights, and the temperature was 5 degrees when we left for the airport. I do not miss that cold and/or snow, or the lack of humidity that dries out my nostrils. The sun is nice, however.

How nice they sent a gay plane to pick me up!

Return leg home was in mere Premium Class, but as an Alaska MVP Gold 100K, they shower you with “stuff”.

Home at a reasonable time, and I have tomorrow off. Whew.

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Feb '22

Trip Report: Frosty Austin

Austin, Texas in the winter…easy, peasy, warmer than Seattle. Or so we hoped.

Used Rache’s Gold Upgrades to snag First Class seats on the way down – meaning we got breakfast:

And views:

And reading material:

Knew Mark Haskell Smith when I was a late teen, as was he – and we may have even dated the dame person once.

And they served us enough booze that we could get by until the Drizzly order showed up.

Quite a condo that I booked us in Austin; 2-Bedroom Presidential. A little over-the-top in places:

On the record player I found this album:

I thought my friend Katy Petras was the The Greek Rage.

There were a couple of other odd albums…like a Christmas one.

Wonderful sunset on our first night….

BBQ from Black’s BBQ the first night – good, but they forgot the Peach Cobbler. NEVER doing Door Dash again. At least when Drizzly forgot the mixer, they credited my card, AND sent me a $5 off “we screwed up” code. Door Dash took NO responsibility.

The next morning, I went to “Owner Reeducation Camp” which they bill as an “Owner Update”, which they do, and then they try and get you to buy more credits. The things that I will do for 30,000 Wyndham rewards points.

But I raided their snack basket, said no, and snaped a picture of one of their inspirational signs:

As the weather was changing for the worse, according to the weather people, Rache hit Whole Foods on his morning walk to get supplies laid in. Chicken thighs and sides for dinner!

Oh, and that weather…

Climate change is real, folks. Snow in Austin in early January, again; remember last February’s crippling weather in Texas that almost shut down the power grid?

Another dinner of a Chef Salad with lots of the leftovers….

And this is as much action as the FoosBall table saw:

After our three nights, it was time to head home on Friday. Good thing we weren’t travelling on Thursday. Most of the flights in/out of Austin were cancelled.

First the lounge:

Then, back on the plane in our happy seats after a slight delay:

Note to self. Two years in a row of freezing temperatures means I should probably stop booking Austin in February.

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Jan '22

Trip Report: Waikiki

This time in 2021 I was supposed to be in Barcelona and Dublin visiting friends.

This time in 2022 I was supposed to be in Barcelona and Dublin visiting friend in the rebooked trip.

Instead, I’m in Waikiki having already booked the time off. Don’t cry for me Argentina, though I’d rather go back to Uruguay, but flight schedules are still spotty.

Flying solo so I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule.

Which means I’m taking lots a tax paperwork to deal with:

Hello, airport:

Great day to fly!

Flying on one of Alaska’s Max 9 with the new first-class seats:

I’ve seen when booking this seat, sometimes it says it doesn’t recline. It reclined for me, but it didn’t have the footrests like rows 2-4.

And I had a companion that snored louder than me!

Total sweetheart, especially on Benadryl!

And views on the way down:

I do really like the airport at Honolulu:

While not as cheap as Uber or the Bus ($1.00 Senior Citizen fare), I like having a car/can waiting for me. Makes more sense with there is more than me, as it’s the same price up to four, but minimal walking, and door to door.

Ramada Plaza for this trip. More Wyndham Points! Paid a bit more for a balcony.

And a peek-a-boo view of the ocean:

10th floor balcony would be mine.

Lunch at the Korean Restaurant around the corner…sadly, I remember the food being better at their previous location:

And then shopping for room supplies:

Not pictured, the Bourbon and mixer!

And the nighttime views are good as well!

For breakfast – please don’t hate me – I went back to a place I took Bliss to for his first “senior” discount breakfast – IHOP:

Then I had a bit of a walk-about to work off all the fat:

Enough of the walking tour photos – let’s see some food porn!

As is usual on my Waikiki visits, there is at least one visit to Happy Hour at Tommy Bahama’s Bar/Grill. Great prices on top notch food/dink:

Classic Vodka Martini (Grey Goose) with blue cheese stuffed olives:

Their world famous Coconut Shrimp:

Blackened Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos:

Little loaves of bread with a cinnamon butter spread (a freebie):

Cheeseburger Sliders:

And you wonder why I keep going back!

Another favorite is Liliha Bakery, close to the Salvation Army, more on that later. Love the Fried Chicken:

Also, another day had a Pastrami Benedict at Giovannis – which I didn’t put a link in because I always leave underwhelmed. This was their last chance:

Really, calling Sysco pucks, “Hash Browns”.

Back to the Salvation Army – picked up two shirts (one a Tommy Bahama) and an etched glass so I can have my whiskey out of something other than a paper coffee cup:

And those tax documents I brought to work on, got a bunch of work done on them the last full day:

Nine AM flight home, and with COVID, the AA/JAL Lounge isn’t open, so I’m huddled with the masses:

My Alaska MVP 100K status didn’t get reflected on my account until all the upgrades to First cleared, so I was in my back, at least on the aisle in premium with free cocktails, and a pre-ordered meal:

And on my return home, just A LITTLE mail:


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Jan '22

Trip Report: Two Trips To Vic

After two years of not being able to visit friends in CanadaLand, I seem to be trying to make up for lost time:

Yes, I over packed, but with the chance of snow, better to take the big car rather than the hockey puck.

With the Coho Ferry out of Port Angeles down for winter maintenance, and The Victoria Clipper still out of service until the spring, it means crossing the border and taking the Tsawwassen Ferry to Swartz Bay, north of Victoria.

Very odd to find NO other cars at the border crossing (and nobody at Duty Free other than the clerk). Had enough time to get food at the ferry terminal:

Probably one of the worst Rueben I’ve ever had. Looked NOTHING like the photo on the menu board.

Yellow mustard? Cheddar cheese? Really? Should have stuck with my usual bratwurst!

On board….

Other than the bathroom, just hung out in the car and fiddled with the phone and napped.

About 35 minutes after getting off on the other side – I’m at the condo, early, but the room is ready.

Here are some shots of the views from two-bedroom condo – the handicap unit on the 6th floor.

And from the hot tub on the first night when I don’t have company:

One of my favorite pics from recent times!

Will and Solus showed up on day two…along with the snow….

Fortunately, we had done the shopping before the bad weather hit.

We did NOT pick up this…..

Not sure how long that would take on the BBQ – great price, but you have to buy the whole thing! And I can’t take it back over the border.

Nice to have dinner with family!

The final breakfast for the three of us, was leftovers – bread and eggs turned into French Toast and the remaining eggs and pork griddled up.

Friday, I headed back to the city to work the weekend – in a perfect world I would have stayed over, but Jim is out of town, so someone has to open the shop.

Got to the ferry line to get some bad news – several of the morning sailing were cancelled due to high winds. Meaning long lines…

Nice to have an inverter in the Escape so I can get some work done:

And an even WORSE ferry line meal:

That was one SAD dog.

Finally made the 3PM ferry (after showing up at little before 11am).

It was after dark by the time I got home – in no mood to figure out dinner other than going to Loretta’s far a Double Tavern Burger:

Worked the weekend, getting tested on Saturday morning for COVID so I could get back into Canada, and headed back for the border:

And, of course, the bridge decides to go up. Sigh.

But before I knew it, I was back in the ferry terminal line, with a Bratwurst in hand!

Messy but good – had to go back in the terminal to wash my hands.

A little closer to the front of the boat – car 31 both on and off the ferry.

I arrived around 3pm, the boys closer to 5pm. And kitchen prep was underway!

It is a stunning seafood casserole with crab and shrimp from the local seafood wholesaler. VERY RICH.

Wish I’d gotten the rest of the Rabbit Pie recipe – not that it’s easy to find rabbit these days.

Sadly, Will and Solus left a day earlier than planned, Solus hadn’t been sleeping well, combined with the rich food took its toll, and he needed his own bed.

Those boys DO NOT travel light – but they had been on the road for a week (they stayed up island over the weekend):

I spent the read of my days cooking for myself…

Leftover duck sausage and eggs:

Making a grilled sandwich out of the leftover seafood casserole:

And some fresh food, a capicola cut piece of organic BC pork, some of the leftover peppers on a skewer, a Greek Salad, that was WAY too large:

Breakfast of smoked white salmon, cream cheese, on a bagel:

And there is wildlife going after a crab…

And sunsets…

My last full day I went over to the seafood place for my afternoon snack – thinking fish and chips. I ended up with this:

And the final dinner…

And before I knew it, I was on the ferry again!

Lots of driving over the last two weeks.

But well worth it.

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2 Responses to “Trip Report: Two Trips To Vic”

  1. Mary Says:

    You do know that the Rueben was created in Omaha, Nebraska? How was the kimchi dog? Can you earn any special place or coupons for being on ferry with frequency?

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    Sadly, no frequent ferry rider program. Sigh.

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Dec '21

Travel Report: A What A Variant Changes

Next month I’d planned to be in Barcelona and Dublin. Cancelled – going to Waikiki instead. March was supposed to be a Pacific Rim tour with multiple countries, all it would take is for one of them to be closed to kill the trip. Now, Granada, Barcelona, and Madrid. Just one country from the US to Europe. June was supposed to be New Zealand – they are “planning” on reopening June 1st, but with a week quarantine. Now June is Berlin.

So, the before and after (with the planned other domestic trips thrown in for good measure).



My guess is that this 2022 map will change MANY more time before this is all over. Sigh.


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Dec '21

Trip Report: Vancouver, Again

Need to spend as much time as I can in Vancouver while the border is open. Took the big car.

And Duty Free is a must:

But the border, with added requirements like vaccine and negative PCR test:

Yes, the Nexus line is longer than the others! Finally, they opened a second Nexus Lane realizing that cross border travel is a pain in the ass that mostly Nexus members are willing to put up with.

Got to the condo around, 2, wasn’t ready, so had sushi while I waited.

Lovely evening views.

Had a lunch date with Will at JapaDog, his first time:

And dinner later with his husband, Solus, who arrived with Mississippi Pot Roast (bread, beans, salad – me):

Before I knew it my three nights were up and I had to return to the US.

Never long enough. Should have immigrated when I had the chance. Sigh.

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