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Feb '19

Trip Report: Santa Cruz, Chile

Because I believe in sleeping in, and Rache doesn’t, I decided to grab “breakfast” at the bus station on the way to the bus. Yes, it was McDonalds. It was the Quarter Pounder Meal because I didn’t realize “solo” would get me just the sandwich, and that with the combo, I had my choice of “papas fritas” (fries) or empanadas “little pies”. I bring this up because the meal (which we all know what it costs in the states) was 4040 pesos. The fare for my 3.5-hour bus ride was 5000 pesos. That should tell you how inexpensive long-distance busses are in Chile.

We are off to Santa Cruz, Chile at 12:15pm. Seats recline more than an airplane, but my butt is still too wide for them.

Arrived to Santa Cruz to find cabs, but no drivers. Paging UBER! We are staying at the Hostel Cruz Del Valle:

Again – don’t why, but no photos of the room! Staff speaks no English, so lots of phone translations, but a positive attitude by all.

For dinner tonight, we are checking out a local craft brewery restaurant (the brewery is in the countryside) for dinner – Katarkura Cerciceria Restaurante

With a great menu of food and beer:

And their story:

The food (and beer, and wine) was excellent:

You pick the meat (choice of four — I went for pork), and four sides (sautéed onions, cheese, sauerkraut, mayonnaise), and Rache got his sandwich with a fried egg, green beans, sautéed onions and mayo – and what a presentation!

Loved the FRIES – a note: the Chileans serve Papas Frites with everything. Sadly, the McDonalds did better fries than most I had in Chile – with the exception of these folks, the fries were magnificent!

It was a wonderful meal where Rache had beer, and I went for wine (and killed two thirds of the bottle):

It was a big sandwich – I finished the fries and took half the sandwich home, along with the rest of the wine.

Our main reason for coming to Santa Cruz (other than Rache prefers small towns) is to see a couple of wineries, but our first one isn’t until 3:30 so we have time to explore the neighborhood after breakfast (included with our room, with custom scrambled eggs, meats, cheeses, yogurt, cereals, pastries, coffee, etc.). I was looking for grocery store things, and we aren’t in the center of town, so we set out with our various mapping apps. We did find a convenience store, but it was closed, but stumbled upon a farmer’s market with everything you’d need (except for mixer for my bourbon):

Makes me wish we had a full kitchen in our place!

Here are a couple of random pictures from our walk…

Come the afternoon, we were back on the phone ordering an Uber to visit the MontGras Winery just outside of town:

Which was getting ready for a hundred-person wedding later in that evening:

I was sort of weird to be in a winery, on a weekend, and there were no other tourists around – so we got a private tour:

All the vineyards are drip irrigated because of the heat, this is what the soil looks like. The grapes really have to work hard, which makes them more flavorful:

And the usual bits and bobs of equipment:

And in an unusual move, they let us open one of the tanks after the guide flipped the sign around as to its contents, to taste the wine and identify whether it was red or white, and what varietal (he’d already gone through all the varietals they farmed):

We both went for white, but I was the one that got Sauvignon Blanc since it was more acidic. Rache went for Chardonnay, but it wasn’t full-bodied enough for Chard. Shit, I’m starting to get this!

Now for the tasting…

Complete with nibbles to pair with the various wines:

What a lovely tour – and we carry the MontGras Camenere at the shop.

Instead of going back to the hotel, we went into the main square to have dinner, and stumbled on yet another sort of celebration:

We ended up at Club Union Social for dinner:

The grapes (which are real) are Pais, otherwise known as the Mission grape in the US.

Again, language difficulties, but parts of the menu were in English – and, of course, we started with Pisco Sours:

I ended up ordering the rabbit…

Rache got the tonque:

We both had the wine:

And we found supplies at the big grocery store just off the square:

And yes, we got ice – but it’s in the sink slowly melting (no fridge in the room).

The next day we are off (well, after breakfast and a nap) to the Vina Santa Cruz, which is much further out of the city, requiring a driver.


This is definitely a “destination” winery – we passed a wine museum and an auto museum before getting to the main winery, which comes with its own gondola and history presentation area:

And then the history area:

They even have an observatory!

And display of meteorites…

And the view from the top aren’t bad either….

But it’s time for the tour – which we share with a handful of other people, but not as many as the 20 on the Spanish tour. Here are some of the production facitities:

Including one of their concrete eggs for aging wine:

This is one of the barrel rooms:

Which is set into the stone hillside:

Now it’s time for the tasting….

Followed by a stroll around their little museum…

And finishing in the gift shop:

Our driver was waiting for us (he actually cost more than the tour), and off we were back to the city half an hour away – and back to the square. We asked the driver for his favorite place to eat on the square – and he said Club Union Social– where we ate yesterday! Back we go. More pisco sours, I wanted something lite, so I went for the garlic shrimp…

And back to the store we went for more ice, more mixer, and if I’d wanted albums, I could have gotten those!

What an odd selection – Koko Taylor, Woody Allen soundtracks, Love Music, The Who – thinking I should have picked up the Koko Taylor.

Our dinner was salamis and cheeses we picked up at the store as we have a big day tomorrow, headed back to Santiago.

That’s it for now.


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Feb '19

Trip Report: Santiago, Chile

Welcome to Santiago! Here is the view from our room – we are directly across from the major cross-country bus terminal. We are at the Ibis Estacion Central.

Not sure why I didn’t take shots of our room – which was dormitory like in nature, with two small twin beds. Great location, a little small, a little short on towels, but clean. At least its well-stocked now!

We poked around the neighborhood a bit, and finally settled on the restaurant – the hotel restaurant. Turns out it was the best place around – and in the middle of the afternoon, it was packed. When in Chile, gotta start with Pisco Sours!

We opted for burgers…

Nap time for both of us and then a little wandering around the city… his shot shows damage still around from the earthquake ten years ago.

Dinner found us BACK at the hotel restaurant (Ibis Kitchen) realizing that even though we went further afield, still no sit-down restaurants with table service.

Rache got the rolled roast….

I opted for the chicken breast, which comes with a fried egg on the fries (think I should have gone for the mashed potatoes):

Our next day was filled with getting transportation sorted – like our subway pass and our bus tickets to Santa Cruz, our next destination, and wandering around the city after I grabbed a quick dog across the street at the train station…

And then into the city trying (and failing) to find a funicular up the hill to a big Jesus statue (though not as big as Rios)

There is train service in Chile – it just doesn’t run to many places are at many times.

This is the shot that I took….

Seconds later, Rache took this one….

He accidentally caught a cop doing a perp walk!

Rache looked up restaurants and found a possibility via Uber. Car came quickly, and off we went – and when we arrived, the restaurant looked sketchy – as did the neighborhood. The driver said to not be here after dark, and we agreed, and started walking away from the people towards larger streets, and stumbled upon El Toro, which turned out to be GREAT!

Another good meal that put us to bed early!

Tomorrow morning, we are off to Santa Cruz!

[? ? ?]

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Jan '19

Trip Report: Headed To Chile

Since I know this would be a LONG post, I’ll break this trip up into three or four entries. Actually taking a weekend off from the shop!

Travelling with Rache – who, as is usual when we travel internationally, is going for weeks, while I’m going for the most days that I can find a business class ticket using miles – in this case, out on a Monday redeye, back the following Wednesday in the morning. Leaves me with 6ish days “in country”.

Getting to Santiago, Chile is two redeyes, meaning I have all day in Miami – not ideal, but it was 120,000 miles and something like $56 for a several thousand-dollar ticket.

Inside the US, my “Business Class” award gets me Domestic First Class:

It being a redeye flight, not much in the way of food service:

The Inflight Entertainment system was decent, watched a couple of movies:

Was definitely going for “light” entertainment. And you could always turn the map on….

The serious downside of this routing is that I get into Miami at 6AM and don’t fly out until 10:55PM. I could leave the airport, but I need sleep, and with the government shutdown, how long would it take me to get back through security. The upside of a Business Class ticket on American, was access to their nicer Flagship Lounge, rather than their usual Admirals Club.

I opt to have a custom-made omelet…

And a nap in one of their “recliners”. “Recliner” in the sense that it’s one position, which is reclined:

Got three or four hours of fitful sleep – time to use the shower facilities…a god send:

I’d put a fresh shirt in my carryon, and the “self-pour” bar was open by the time I was all cleaned up:

And lunch is set out….

I basically spent the entire day napping, snacking, drinking, wasting time on the computer while waiting to board my flight to Santiago, Chile, which fortunately, the gate was directly under the club. I’m in the bulkhead first row of Business Class for my ride south.

While there was food on this flight, which I reserved the beef (overcooked as usual) ….

It came all at once since we didn’t take off until 11PM and they assumed most would like to sleep.

Watched two movies on this leg:

And did use the lay-flat feature of my bed to grab three or four hours of sleep:

On arriving in Santiago, Immigration was quick, luggage delivery slow. They’d manage to crack my bag and I was surprised at the efficiency of the process for filing a claim. That will be something I do in the states once I’m home. It’s in enough of a shape to get it home (I hope).

Rache was due to arrive 30 minutes before me via Dallas, but he was delayed and arrived 45 minutes after me, when the lines at Customs were longer…but we finally met up and ordered an Uber to the city!

It was about 1PM when we got to the hotel – and I’ll pick up that in the next post.

[? ? ?]

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Jan '19

Trip Report: Yellowstone In Winter

So, last week I was in the low 80’s, this week I’m lucky if it gets UP to 20. One morning it was 14 below! Fortunately, I don’t live here, but have to fly in.

That’s a lot of stuff for three nights – but it includes New Year’s presents.

Might as well start off the day with a Caesar – that’s a Bloody Mary made with Clamato, a Canadian Favourite.

It’s a Q-400 from Seattle to Bozeman where Steve will be picking me up. He will be my chauffeur for the next four days. We’ll be staying at the WorldMark West Yellowstone, right next to The Colonels!

Yep, that’s a whole lot of snow – which they don’t completely scrap off so that the snow machines rubber tracks don’t get ground off – the whole town of West Yellowstone has groomed snow on the streets.

Nice little unit (2-bedroom). I was seeing if the fisheye lens I brought would work on the new phone…

And the view from the deck:

We did a grocery and liquor run, where the liquor store (turns out to not be the cheap one) is part of a casino…

Spent the evening with The Colonels killing off the Bourbon I brought…good thing Tuesday is a planned “relax from the journey” day with an UncleMarkie Sunday Roast over a bed of potatoes and onions.

Wednesday is the BIG day of the trip – when The Colonels and I do a snow coach tour of the Yellowstone Valley.

The snow coaches come in many varieties…

Lots of winter visitors to Yellowstone, even with it closed down – the concessioners are splitting the cost of grooming the roads. Ours was a bit of a tight fit.

Lots of photo ops:

Yes, that is a coyote in the upper picture. Seen today: Bison, Coyote, Swans, Ducks, and Wolves feasting on a Bison carcass that was too far off to get a phone camera picture.

Left at a little after 8am, got back to the condo about 4:30pm – a LONG DAY in an airport shuttle (which our snow coach was the size of).

Headed home Thursday (after a pizza dinner hosted by The Colonels) – and the snow was coming down:

Left the condo right at the noon checkout, but my flight wasn’t until 7pm so I went to the airport really early. This was at the check-in counter:

Since I was there hours early, I set up my office to do some work on the wine shop taxes…

Not a bad view – there are mountains out there when there aren’t clouds.

Got home around 11PM.

Guess I’d better start repacking for the next trip!

[? ? ?]

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Jan '19

Trip Report: Waikiki With Friends

When you have friends that live in Indianapolis, you don’t get to see them often, so when you get a chance to holiday in the same city, you take it, even if it is six hours in the opposite direction.

The gods must have been smiling on me since I got an upgrade at the last minute – at boarding they scanned my boarding pass and rejected it. They replaced it with a boarding pass for 4D. The downside is no choice of meal, sigh.

Would have preferred the omelet and sausage. Oh well.

Arrived at HNL and grabbed the city bus into town – stopped at Giovani’s for a quick lunch…

Got settled into the condo early, not a bad view!

Mick and Ric arrived around 6 and we had some nibbles and eventually got lazy and called next door to PFChangs for takeout.

The next day (Tuesday) was a busy one. After rising late (me), off to lunch at the Liliha Bakery for a little Fried Chicken – really good Fried Chicken:

We chose this restaurant because it is close to the Salvation Army Thrift store…

Where I found some goodies…

A couple of them are for me, a couple for other people, including Joe, whose 50th Birthday Celebration is part of this adventure.

Speaking of Joe (and Lisa, and Lisa’s Niece Emily), they are all coming to dinner, so we are off to the Food Pantry for supplies – but find this closed bar for a quick picture:

We did manage to swing by (before the meal prep) to the restaurant on top of Tommy Bahama for their 3-5PM Happy Hour, which has really good food options, like the Poki and the Fish Tacos:

The meal restrictions were, not spicy, no pork. We were having so much fun that evening that we didn’t even take picture of the lovely meal Mick made (while I’m a good cook, Mick is an excellent cook!)

Ric left in the morning before I got up – he needed to be back at work in Phoenix, so Mick and I went to the World War Two Museum at Fort Derussey which is a couple of blocks from the condo, and free:

That building in the center background is the Trump Tower (hisssssss).

Wednesday was actually Joe’s birthday, so the Tiki Bar Crawl started at Tommy Bahama’s around 3:30…

And then to Arnolds, which is a dive bar for restaurant workers in the alley behind Tommy Bahama…

This would be Emily…the niece:

Beyond that, we hit three more Tiki Bars… starting with Rumfire, at the Sheraton Waikiki

And then over to The Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian (aka The Pink Palace):

And onto the final stop which was Tiki’s Bar and Grill, but with a stop at the Duke statue on the beach

Lots of Tiki glasses at the Tiki’s Bar and Grill!

It was a fun evening…and since we started early, we were home by 10!

The following morning we had to be out of the condo at 10am (which I’m used to WorldMark’s noon checkout), and off to the airport we went. Mick had a later flight, but needed to do a conference call so we hit the lounge – we are on different flights (I’m stopping in Portland).

Got upgraded to First on the HNL-PDX flight (even before I actually flew TO HNL) so I had food on the return as well….

Not sure why there isn’t a picture of the main course…aparently having too much fun (again).

Well, that’s it for this installment.


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Dec '18

Trip Report: NEXUS For Rache

Final trip of the year, if you’d like to see where I’ve been in 2018, here is a link: CLICK HERE.

This is a driving trip – which starts with a long drive through the driving rain to get to Vancouver and the moderately OK Rosedale at Rosemont Suites, which are part of the WorldMark system until the end of the year. With the cost of parking, the limited kitchens, not sorry to see these units go away. Hence, no pictures of the place. Just pictures of food and friends.

We had our mutual friend Solus+ over for a chicken, pilaf, and salad dinner.

We were just in Vancouver for an evening, the main goal being beautiful Blaine, staying on Birch Bay, so Rache can do his Nexus interview. The wait in Blaine is a couple of weeks. The wait at the Seattle office at Boeing Field is at least three months out.

Another downside of Rosedale on Robson is the 10am check-out time, which is standard for Wyndham and Vacation International units. Bloody early by my standards.

On the upside, Rache nibbled on biscotti with his coffee, and I waited for an early lunch at Ominitsky Kosher Deli. Kosher Rueben for me:

Smoked Tongue for Rache, who doesn’t love a hot tongue?

They are also a deli and small market – which a huge selection of cold-case pickles:

Plus, a guide to your wiener:

Not too much of a delay at the border – and it will be even smaller next time now that Rache has his Nexus card!

Got settled into our lovely 2-bedroom Handicapped unit at the WorldMark Blaine, which is right next door to the WorldMark Birch Bay – but a more intimate place with nicer furniture. Again, no pictures, just food.

Our first (of two nights) was steaks and asparagus off the grill (sadly on the roof deck than on our deck, unlike next door), and scratch made Hollandaise, complete with my sister’s handpicked and dried hot peppers which we whirred up in the blender:

And I found this Chilean Malbec in honor of our trip to Santiago, Chile, next month:

While I didn’t get pictures of our unit, I did take some shots of the VERY underused lounge…complete with “Elf on a Shelf” or, in this case, at a table:

Even our morning breakfast was lovely, with the leftover steak and asparagus:

Our final dinner of the trip was bratwursts off the grill and Rache’s mac and cheese:

The final trip of 2018 – and 2019 is filling up at an amazing pace (CLICK HERE for what’s on the books for next year).


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Dec '18

Trip Report: Santa Fe The Long Way

It used to be easy to get to Santa Fe…flight left in the morning, got into ABQ in the afternoon, plenty of time to drive/train to Santa Fe. Not anymore. A couple of months before my trip Alaska sent me a note saying that my flight that was supposed to get in at 1PM would, instead, be getting in at 10PM, and leaving on the return, butt early, in the morning.

Doesn’t work when you are an hour and a half from your final destination by the time you pick up your luggage.

Hello Portland along the way…

Started the trip with the usual trip to the Alaska Lounge

With a stop at Florette to hug Shua. It’s rare that his work schedule and my flight schedules align.

Bulkhead aisle to PDX…

Upgraded to First on the E175 flight from PDX to ABQ, which is 2-1 seating, with me in the 1:

So, aisle and window and the same time – and LOOK at the view!

This is why I call the Pacific Northwest home. And then, lunch was served.

On time into Albuquerque, off to the Rental Car Center, into the rental car, and headed north to Santa Fe, and checked into the WorldMark Santa Fe…Studio Handicapped Unit:

Because of getting in at 4PM, and not to Santa Fe until after 6PM, no hanging with the relatives, just grabbing food from across the street (Chopstix):

Popular, cheap, OK quality… perfect for taking back to the room, and she threw in a couple of wontons since I wasn’t willing to wait 20 minutes for the Bulgogi.

Lunch the next day (who is up for breakfast!) was at one of my favorites, a block away from the condo. Bumble Bee’s for Lamb Tacos. Love their drive through sign:

Dinner with my sis-in-law (might as well be sister at this point), and her husband, Uncle to Jameson and Julian, at Atrisco for their Chile Relleno.

Yes, this trip is about food – it is Santa Fe, after all!

Lunch at LottaBurger…a tradition with both The Colonels and I should mention that I was supposed to see The Colonels on this trip, but management messed up their 3-week reservation at their condo and turned it into a 2-week stay, so they headed back to Kentucky. I also missed them in New Orleans due to weather…I’ll see them in January in West Yellowstone.

Dinner with the family out in Eldorado (about 20 minutes from the condo):

The following afternoon Jen and I met up for lunch at Taco Fundacion – where Bert’s Burgers was for 30 years, but brought it back to the condo since it was only a block away, and they don’t really have warm seating:

I ordered the Roasted Pig, the Lamb, and the Goat (and then went back for dinner and ordered the Fried Oyster, Bison, and a side of chips). Damn good – worth a second trip.

My afternoon was spent on the computer, watching George H.W. Bush’s train ride home…

My final meal in Santa Fe was breakfast at another one of my favorites…The New York Deli:

The Eggs Benedict were $9.95 – a freakin’ bargain.

Got upgraded to my favorite seat on the E175, which is 1A – the combination aisle/window. And since it’s First Class, it comes with dinner:

And more mountain views….

Guess I’ve taken to photographing the wing tip for perspective. It works.

That’s my last flight trip for the year. Got a driving trip to Vancouver and Blaine coming up.


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Dec '18

Trip Report: Waikiki!

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

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

Some hiccups, but easier than last month.

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

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

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

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

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

Uncle Markie always loves a deck.

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

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

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

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

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

And plenty warm:

Yes, there are Speedos involved.

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

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

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

Across the street at Ross Cross Dress For Less…

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

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

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

And some of the Royal Gardens amenities….

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

But here is the Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk property…

And some nice additions…

And the view….

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

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

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

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

A great view:

And KILLER Two For $10 Mahi Fish Tacos!

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

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

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

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

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

I ordered the BiBimBap in a stone pot:

Nice to have some more vegetables in my system.

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


The next day found me poolside:

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

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

And a “pour-it-yourself” bar!

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

And even bidets in the loo!

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

Another week, another journey.

[? ? ?]

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Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – The Return Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there was champagne before takeoff:

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

The main (I went for the Pike):

Cheese course:


Watched a couple of movies:

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

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

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

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

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


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Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – The City

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

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

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

And my bedroom, complete with its own small deck…

Not as big as the deck off the living room!

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

And a great bottle of Greek red wine!

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

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

I could get used to this.

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

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

This this was walking distance from MY HOUSE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I close with a final shot of the car….

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

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

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

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

The second bottle was freshly opened, and much nicer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[? ? ?]

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Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – Getting There

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

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

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

Then to another comfortable seat….1D

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

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

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

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

Followed by nuts and cocktails:

The salad course:

The main course:

The cheese course:

And finally, dessert:

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued, my adventure in Barcelona.


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  1. Roxy Says:

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

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Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Tres

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

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

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

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

Next up was lunch at the Texas Chili Parlor

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

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

Goodbye Austin (State Capital Building).

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

It was fun. I’ll be back.

[? ? ?]

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Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Duo

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

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

I went for the Rueben and a Burnt Orange:

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

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

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

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

Sadly, we went to bed without definitive results…

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

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

Rache ordered the Table Side Guacamole…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Nov '18

Trip Report: Election Night In Austin – Part Uno

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

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

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

Or from the plane….

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

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

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

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


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

Here is a video condo tour….

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  1. Janet Schilling Says:

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

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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.


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Oct '18

Trip Report: The Texas Eagle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was happy to get onto the train.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least there is an Alaska Lounge at LAX!

Another week, another trip.


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Oct '18

Trip Report: The Amtrak Cardinal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With our before noon boarding – we got lunch.

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

Dessert was better than the burger:

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

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

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

Welcome to our bedroom:

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

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

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

Back to the Amtrak lounge we went before the flight…

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

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


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Oct '18

Trip Report: Cabo For The 62nd

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

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

First, a stop in the lounge:

See what I mean about the seats?

And the food wasn’t bad either:

And then lunch on the next leg:

Welcome to Mexico!

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Not the best way to end a trip.


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Sep '18

Trip Report: The Big Easy

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

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

Settled in, and lunch is on the way!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the fried oysters looked pretty good, too!

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

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

Got some cocktails ordered…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A dozen charbroiled oysters ($10).

A dozen raw ($3)

Fried Green Tomatoes.

And dessert – another two dozen on the half shell!

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

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

There is an outside eating/drinking/entertainment area:

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

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

Three UNIQUE wines open – my kinda place!

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

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

And then topped it off with cocktails!

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

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

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

It was an early night for both of us.

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

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

Garlic shrimp for Rache:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Sep '18

Home Report: Projects, Dogs, & Distilling

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

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

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

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

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

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