Tuesday, April 18, 2017


I like cities. I like their energy, their design, the flow of people, the opportunities they present. They show the best and worst of humanity, often next to each other. Amsterdam is beautiful, chaotic, and filled with stunning architecture. I'm mostly impressed by the beautiful dance of bicycles, cars and people. It's effortless and hypnotizing when you look from a distance.

I've rented a houseboat for the company team. It's less expensive than a hotel. We have visitors.

I'm a little tired from the travels, the jetlag, the incredible beer. Daynapping is a good option.

In between meetings an sessions and talks, I get some time to explore the city. The building all lean in just enough to appear like they are swallowing up the streets behind you, or in front of you.

The conference is in an old castle. The conversations are always accompanied by beer and cheese. It's a beautiful place. I''l be back. More pictures here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Vegas and St Petersburg

It's February 2014, and I am about to get on a plane to Vegas. The conference is at the Hard Rock hotel. Disneyland goes through excessive effort to make sure that almost every angle of the theme park is photogenic. This hotel has tried to do the same thing, it's all in the details. As much as I like the themed ATM Machines:

I'm more partial to the Rock N Roll Memorabilia, like Lita Fords outfit or the infamous Britney Spears Hit Me Baby outfit.

It's a three-day conference, I'm only there for two. I have an early flight out to St. Petersburg the next morning.

Before my flight, the Russian cab driver tells me that whatever I do, don't get in a cab without a pre-agreed price. It turns out that this is the best advice I have gotten. My hotel sends a driver for about $20 US, my co-worker arrives after being fleeced for close to $140.00 for a 3 Km ride.

St. Petersburg is cold, as expected, but beautiful and filled with Soviet era artwork and statues.

I have a short window on my last day there to see the Hermitage. It was the winter palace of the Czar, and after I walk through it's oppulance and extravagance, I understand why it was overthrown. They lived like *that* while their people were outside starving. It was only a matter of time.

However, the remains of the palace is an incredible museum filled with the spoils of war, and the work of masters.

It's early and it's winter, so I am mostly alone in the rooms of Picassos and Gaugins with only a short woman glaring at me telling me not to touch anything. I smile at her and try to say that I know not to touch it. But that doesn't keep me from examining the final brush stroke flourishes, or the barely noticeable details.

This piece is the works most complicated and ornate clock. Rather than describe it, I'll refer you to this explanation which is pretty thorough:

The rest of my pictures are here.

I have to leave earlier than I want to, I probably should spend at least two days there. But I have to be in Amsterdam that evening.

Monday, April 10, 2017

London, Seattle, and the 2014 Chili Bowl.

It hasn't been a month with the new company, and I'm already traveling. I'm in the U.K. and have already taken the underground to downtown. The iconic cab takes me across town to an AirBnB - I've never used one before, but my co-workers insist on it.

It's a cute apartment, about six block away from the conference location and about 1/4 the price of a conference hotel. I arrive, it's raining, my cellphone isn't working, and I can't find the apartment. So, I do what they do in the U.K., I go to the pub.

This was delicious, and necessary. I hear a familiar sound, and there are my co-workers who have had the same idea and picked the same pub.

Bangers and Mash, something with peas, and one more beer. We head back in the rain before spending the next two days with conference people.

There are evening parties, and business to be done, and new people to meet, but I find time to make sure I am able to stop and appreciate reflections and interesting views.

This never gets old:

I'm there for a week, and just get back for about one day before I'm told that I need to be in Seattle. I'm getting used to rain.

Some people will know what I was doing there just by this picture:

I find time to escape the meetings and the discussions and visit the REI store. If I didn't have a VW Bus, I might have a cricket camper.

But I do. And it's superbowl weekend, which means I get to camp out with my VWCamperFamily people and cook Chili for each other. This time we are in Rio Vista, and it's sunny and beautiful.

I even manage to get a smile out of Gene.

I don't think I've ever written about Gene. Gene is somewhat new to the group in that he has only been camping with us for about three years. He set himself apart be arriving early at all our campouts. He has to drive half-way across the state to camp with us, so he makes it early each time so he has more time to sit with a glass of Whiskey. (Not wisky, wiskey. He has made that very clear. His bottles have pronounceable names.)

My favorite Gene story: We asked him what he does that gives him all the free time. He tells us he is retired. We ask him where he learned to do all the leather work and the knife work that he keeps with him. He says "in prison". We all look uncomfortably at each other, wondering who is camping with us while we sleep. One of us asks how long he was there. He says "20 years, plus or minus." Again, our eyes look around at each other somewhat nervously. Gene sits there with a smirk, waiting for that to sit in just long enough to be awkward, and perfectly times the next statement: "Yup, I was a prison warden for 20 years." Collective sighs and laughs. He knew he was doing. We would have thrown things at him, but none of us knew what kind of friends he made in prison. We still camp with him.

John has set up the tent.

The Chili pots have been set out for tasting.

And I have a cold beer and a warm fire.

It was a nice little refresh before the next round of travel.

Texas Trip - Home

Here I am up early in a ridiculously beautiful room in Vegas. The full suite is bigger than most one bedroom apartments. Two bathrooms, a formal sitting area that overlooks the fountains, and my "guest" room that has it's own hot tub and a spectacular view of the dessert.

We are driving home today. Vegas of SF is about 10 hours, but I don't think I'll notice.

Road trips are beautiful things. They reveal character, they help determine who is the tourist, and who is the traveller. You find out who your friends are, and what they aren't. I find myself a little more each time I'm someplace new, and as of the end of this trip. I'll be in some place familiar, but very very new. This trip is the end of several parts of my life, and the beginning of another.

It's been three years since I update this blog, and it's a new world for me. I have decided to start writing again, and here I am, back at posting. I'll try to be here more often.

I got home and started the next day with a new company.

San Francisco did what it always does - gave me a beautiful sunrise to get started.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Texas Trip - Route 66 and beyond.

We are leaving Albuquerque. That should be a title of a song:

The truck is filled and I'm leaving Albuquerque,
The sun is rising time is O dark thirty,
and highway 40 isn't going far north
enough for me.....

It's a song in progress. give me time.

Time - we don't have much of it today, we have to reach Vegas.
We do have enough time to stop in one of the towns used as a reference for Radiator Springs.
Holbrook Arizona - a town known for being the town that's known for being a town.

There is a bit of nostalgia in the neon and pink and strange souvenir stores. What the town is more known for is the hotel.

It's still working, you can still rent one out. Here are some pics for the curious.

We have a few laughs and do one more drive by on our way to Winslow.

Sing it with me: "I'm standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It's a girl my lord in a flat bed ford slowing down to take a look at me."

Moving on.

Jackrabbit. Its nothing more than a store. There may have been a truckstop there once. For now, it's many signs pointing out the Jackrabbit. You find yourself saying it a lot. Jack Rabbit. Jack. Rabbit. Jackrabbit.

Back on the road - curiosity satisfied.

Side Note: Have you seen a greyhound bus recently? More importantly... have you notices that the logo for greyhound is pretty damn nice? As far as logos go, this one is pretty much artwork.

We stop at the meteor crater - because its awesome.
This rock:

Made this hole:

(Those two people are my travelling companions)

We haven't eaten for a while, so they suggested that we go find something. I suggest we stay where we were. In the back of the fridge, I have stashed bar-b-cue from Texas. We fire up the microwave (because we have one!) and eat ribs on the side of the crater overlooking the plains. Not a bad way to eat lunch.

We move on to Vegas, and stay at the Cosmopolitan. The view from my room is perfect way to end the day. It's about as blurry as my eyesite.

Tomorrow - heading home.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Texas Trip - day three

West Texas - No country for old men.

Damn this road is boring. I'm leaving a crappy hotel and taking the 10 down in a south easterly direction. It's mile and miles of nothing. Occasionally you have a rock - and that's considered "scenery".

But we are making good time and laughing about how land is probably pretty cheap out here. Perhaps it would be easy to own land near the giant natural hill that is shaped like... oh, Idunno... something.

Hours and hours of nothing, cars being towed are an occasional break. This thing has seen better years.

The debate between San Antonio for the evening and Austin is quickly settled when I mention that Austin has Four Seasons. After last nights hotel, my co-pilots are thrilled to have a comfy plush bed.
For the record, I love Austin. Mucho. The people, the food, the music, the vibe. So I take them to two bbq places - both closed for corporate events.

We end up at a steakhouse, and after a couple manhattans, we walk back through the town and pass out.

Good morning. It's the fourth day of this trip, the car is parked right in front, the garage was too low.

It's off to the wedding at a private ranch. We are there for the rest of the day, the following day, and we are leaving at dark thirty the next morning.

Day 6. 4:00 am. And we are on the road back to Albuquerque. Also through west texas.

Its boring. And there is not much here either other than empty main streets and rusted cars for sale.

Ballinger. Sweetwater. Snyder. Lubbock. Clovis. Fort Sumner. Santa Rosa.

And now we are on Hwy 40. Seriously. There's nothing along the way but birds and sky. Maybe that's a good thing.

Tomorrow we are looking for the heart of Route 66.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Texas Trip - Day two

It's day two and I'm not in a VW. Apologies, but the Sprinter is faster, and much more luxurious - which satisifies the sensibilities of my fellow travellers.

We leave Phoenix and head straight to Tuscon. We left at a reasonable hour, and todays leg to El Paso is somewhat short, so we decide to stop at David-Monthan Air Force Base, home of the Aircraft Boneyard. It's located here and is best seen using satellite view.

Short Description: Metal weakens (as we know) and plane metal weakens faster under stresses. These planes go through lots of stress, so when they reach the end of their serviceable life, they bring them here, prep them for storage, and then either use them for parts, or make unmanned drones that the navy practices shooting with lasers and other items.

You begin by getting on to a bus that takes you on a military base. After a proper ID check, we are driven around the base with acres and acres of this:

and this

The white stuff covering them is a paint/protectant that can be peeled off. It both protects the cockpits from sun damage, and keeps the kangaroo rats from entering the plane.

There is a lot of cold war history here, along with tons of damn cool planes. I have a particular fondness for military humor.

All the pics of the yard and the museum are here in a set.

We continue down the road and start seeing the signs for the infamous "thing". "What is it?" Sopt and see the "Thing!" Its an infamous tourist trap, but when you are in the middle of nowhere, you have to ask yourself, why not? An likely, you need to fill up anyway.

We pull over, and pay the dollar.
Spoiler alerts ahead!

-There are three quonset huts filled with... stuff? I have no idea where he collected this junk, but part of what is inside is a bunch of paper mache' models of torture techniques. Some strange cars. A limo that claims that Hitler once rode it it.

And then of course, there is the Thing, which they tried really hard to put under glass that was difficult to take pictures, but my beat up Canon has modes. :)

The thing is nothing more than a dessicated corpse. According the the interwebs, she, was found a while ago had been on display for years as an indian woman. I suspect that there are worse places to have your body resting (just ask Elmer McCurdy).

We got our one dollars worth of curiosity satisfied, and went on our merry.

El Paso was.... El Paso. I have political thoughts about that town, but I'll save them for the campfire. It was a curious place.

Cheap hotel, poor sleep. We were happy to leave the next morning, even if it did mean driving through West Texas.


I like cities. I like their energy, their design, the flow of people, the opportunities they present. They show the best and worst of humani...