Monday, October 29, 2018

Back home for a while anyway

We got back from England on September 5 and had a whole two weeks to relax before our next trip.  Yep, another one!  This one was more personal.  FIFTY years ago I had the honor and pleasure of being in someone's wedding party and on September 22 they were celebrating their anniversary.  Well, you've got to go celebrate something like that!  So on September 21 we hopped a plane for Chicago.

Our friends live in a small town in northern Ohio near Toledo so flying to Chicago was the best choice by far.  Then it is a 4 hour drive to Ohio. Well, it is if you are smart enough to go around downtown.  If you aren't, it's more like a 7 hour drive.  However, we made it.  The party on Saturday was fantastic and we got to spend a bit more time with our friends on Sunday.  Monday a.m. we were off for the Chicago airport again. 

Now you need to understand that my wife does about 75% of our trip planning.  I get a word in every now and then but basically she does all the work.  So when we knew we were headed for the Eastern Time Zone we decided to add on a bit to the trip.  First a quick few days in Montreal; since we've never been there. 

We mostly wandered around in the old part of town.  It was nice and we got to see some of the good stuff:  the cathedral, the waterfront and the underground.  In one part of the underground was a large mall that had a fountain shooting way up in the air.  There were a couple small boys who really enjoyed that!
It was a very relaxing time and we enjoyed seeing some of the city.  I did see something I've never seen before.
Beware of Falling Ice!  Someone must have had a really bad experience on this corner.

Well, now we've been more than a week in the East but that wasn't quite enough so we added another five days in Washington DC.  We visited Washington in 2003 in our trailer.  As I understand it there is one 'good' RV park in the Washington area and we didn't stay in it.  The park was fine but we ended up with an awful commute into the city every day.  This time we weren't making that mistake!  We had a hotel about 3 blocks from the National Mall.  In 2003 we had done the Memorials:  Washington; Lincoln; Vietnam Vets; Korean War Vets.  All the big things with the glaring omission of Arlington National Cemetary.  So this visit we did make sure to visit Arlington.  As with every military cemetary I've visited there is a sense of peace and sacrifice.
Having visited the cemetary we spent the remainder of our time in museums:  The Art Museum (West and East); the Air and Space; he Smithsonian; and even the Hirshhorn.
That was different.  The above piece is displayed in front of the Hirshhorn.  The name is "Still Life with Spirit and Xitle".  The materials used to make it are listed as:  Car, volcanic stonee, and acrylic paint.  The car, of course, is a Dodge Spirit. 

One unexpected thing in Washington was our first Uber ride!  Uber hasn't made it to rural Nevada but it worked very nicely in D.C.  After a few days of such wildness it was time to go home.  Believe me, home is looking really good these days.  Take care and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Back before we set out on our spring trip we were already thinking of maybe a fall trip.  We didn't want anything too challenging but we thought a couple weeks in England would be fun.  We've been there before but never really got to spend time in the Lake District or Wales.  We tore through that area back in 1990 but you've got to admit that was a while ago.  Plus, when we visited Ireland we had intended to visit Northern Ireland but just ran out of time.  So, we talked ourselves into a Northern Ireland, Lake District and Wales trip even before we'd gone on our cruise.  We thought mid-September sounded like a good time; weather might be questionable but at least it wouldn't be crowded. 

Then our friends invited us to a birthday party in Germany on August 11.  Hmmm.  Well, we could move the England trip forward so we bought the tickets.  Non-refundable tickets, of course.  Then when we were in Spain our friend had an accident which sent him to the hospital and cancelled the birthday party.  Happily we hadn't purchased the tickets to Germany but only the tickets to London.  So, the English portion of our trip was going to be a little less hurried.  We can make this work.

We left for London on August 8 arriving on the 9th.  We got there really early so had decided to hop the train to Liverpool and spend a couple days there getting over the jet lag.  That all worked out well.  We got to see a bit of the city and get our feet on the ground.  We had decided we wanted to go see Northern Ireland first so we set out on the Stenna Line ferry to Belfast.  Let me tell you, there doesn't seem to be a way to go from Liverpool to Belfast in less than a day!  Flying involves travel to airports that are distant and the ferrys all seem slow.  I don't know, maybe we missed some genius method that is only 2 hours.  We hopped the ferry!  This is a photo of a similiar ferry in the middle of one of the largest windfarms in the world - in the middle of the Irish Sea.
We enjoyed walking around in Belfast.  It seemed like a nice walkable city.  Of course we had to rent a car and go check out the Giant's Causeway. 
We got to the causeway mid-afternoon and couldn't even get into the parking lot!  It was slammed!  We wandered down the road and found a nice little hotel to spend the night.  About 7 pm we decided to go check out the Causeway.  It is a national monument so you can visit any time.  You just miss the tourist office and we were pretty ok with that!  Clammering around on the rocks was fun but, well, how much fun can a guy take?  So we went back to the hotel and had dessert. 

Heading back to England was another day on the ferry but quite nice.  We found our rental car and headed our for the Lake District.  Our car was a Vauxhall Adam and let me assure you it was small.  Like the back seat wasn't usable for anyone with legs.  Still, it worked for us.  Our suitcases filled the trunk and our backpacks rode in the back seat.  We had decided to use the Keswick area as the center of our Lake District visit.  We had considered trying to stay on Lake Windemere and were very glad we'd switched to Keswick when we got caught in this awful traffic jam by Windemere.  For the second time moving our vacation earlier had brought us the crowds we were hoping to avoid.  Oh well. 

Our hotel was on Lake Thirlmere, one of the smaller lakes. 

It was very remote actually but worked for us. 
Keswick, the town, was still pretty crowded but our hotel was quiet.  Parts of the building are quite old but it has been updated many times over the years.  We found a walk or two to take and spent a day just driving around in other parts of the Lake District. 

Next we moved down to Barrow in Furness.  It was just a place that was closer to Wales and on the sea.  Living in the desert makes the seaside sound pretty good.  From Barrow we drove all the way down to Cardiff.  In terms of US travel it isn't far but in the UK it's quite a drive! 

Cardiff was fun.  It ought to be called Castle Town though.  First there is Cardiff Castle.

Then there is Caerphilly Castle.
And, finally, a late comer: Castle Coch.

Being a foolish American I always envision castles as having grand staircases and wonderful areas.  Here are the staircases tourists get to use!  This one has iron handholds, some only have a rope!

But, of course, it is great fun to visit these wonderful buildings and learn about the history and the stories surrounding them.  It does make using the elevator a much more treasured experience.

Next we headed for Aberystwyth on the western coast.  Aberystwyth is a college town with a lovely beach walk.  We enjoyed walking on the beach and in the town.
You can see the lovely summer weather we were enjoying.  No fear of finding a woman in a bikini on this beach!

Next we wandered up to the Northwest corner of Wales around Caernarfon.  Actually we were in a small town a few miles away called Y-Felinheli.  Our hotel was right on the Menai Straits.  We'd had a really small, odd room in Aberystwyth and the guy at this hotel took pity on us and gave us a special room.  This room has been used for a party room, servants quarters and who knows what else.  Here's a bit of the decoration.
But it was really a great place.  We could see the tides and the boats and, yes, Caernarfon Castle.
I like that view of the castle because it gives you a hint about how formidable it would appear to others.  And I liked the little warning signs they posted.
But it was the view from our hotel that was really the star of the place.

We found a restored railway to take for a day trip where we even got to see Snowdon!

That's the visitor center on the top of Snowdon.  At least that is what one of our fellow travelers said!

From Menai Strait to Liverpool was just a little drive and we got to spend another day or two in Liverpool.  By now we felt we knew the city and just relaxed and enjoyed our time.  There was an artist who set up some "Lost Castles" and we got to see one.  This was all created by volunteers using cardboard!
After Liverpool it was back on the train to London, Heathrow and flying home.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Zooming right along

After the excitement of our cruise and visit to Spain, we were happy enough to be at home.  We got back into our morning walk which is around our neighborhood for about 2.5 miles.  We keep track of the neighbors cars and horses and lawnwork.  (We have 2 cactus plants and a whole bunch of rock in our yard.)   This saguaro is a couple blocks away and once in a while it blooms.  It really is amazing.
In addition we have the annual ceremony on this day (May 9 if you are curious):
100F for the first time in 2018.  Exciting stuff!  (37.7C just doesn't have the same ring.)

So, ok, we are dull when we are home.  We do sometimes have visitors.
Someone has to eat all that seed that falls out of the birdfeeder.  And, of course, I have to take a photo on or close to the solstice.

So, any more questions about why there aren't a lot of posts?  I could complain about local politics or national politics but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't do any good. 

In July we did have some excitement but not of the good sort.  A relative who lives in Washington state had a sudden turn for the worse.  We decided we'd better get up there and check things out for ourselves.  Happily our relative kind of clicked back and is doing reasonably well again.  So we got to visit the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge out on the Olympic Peninsula. 

It has a fantastic spit of land that reaches out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
You do get to see SOME wildlife.
But when you are out on the spit you get to see the Olympics.  It is amazing!
It's not quite enough to make me want to move there but almost!

That's it for today.  I'll work on August and September soon.  Promise.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Wow, really falling off the rails here!

Ok, I haven't blogged since late July and here it is early October.  Sorry!  What can I say?  I've been busy.  Let me talk a bit about Barcelona (which was in April!) and then give you an idea of my summer.

We dropped off our rental car in Barcelona with the thought we'd have 3 or 4 days to enjoy the city and that's exactly what we did.  We had a hotel that was right on the harbor front so from the rooftop deck we could check out all the fabulous yachts in the harbor.  That was kind of cool.
Unfortunately our room wasn't facing anything!  But I digress.

When I think of Barcelona about all I think of is Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia church.  What I found was a city that was alive with art of every sort.  We did walk the Las Ramblas, visit the market and all that good stuff but the overwhelming impression was that there was art everywhere.

Oddball art in the park.

Art on the rooftops.

 There is a marina used during Olympic games with plenty of interesting buildings around it.

There was a small city sponsored store where things were sold that were created in Barcelona.  Lots of interesting stuff!

The Spanish custom of eating at 22:00 (10 p.m.) doesn't sit very well with us so we did quite a bit of tapas hunting.  Some of the tapas are pretty creative but I must admit that we stuck with the simpler ones.  Sorry, and it got a bit dull, but it wasn't something we wanted to try.

Barcelona turned out to be a vibrant and exciting city to close out our Spanish travels.  There is, however, a sober side to the city.  Barcelona is a refuge city for people attempting to escape from Africa.  They are very aware that not every refugee makes it safely across the Med.  So they have these monuments on the shore in Spanish and English.
That was the number of people known lost trying to cross by early April, I'm sure that number is much higher by now. 

Thanks for stopping by.  There is lots more travel coming in 2018.  Just warning you!  Take care.