Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Long beaches

It’s not all work and no play around here, although sometimes it feels like it. We took a long weekend and went to Long Beach, CA (because I had a conference, so it sort of was all work) in early May. We stayed at a lovely family’s pool house we found on Airbnb. They had bikes we used to ride to the beach for day, stopping by Trader Joe’s on the way for picnic fixings, which was totally delightful. It was sort of chilly and raining off and on (and they say CA is in a drought?), so we didn’t go in further than our knees, but we had fun walking around, watching sailboats, and watching people fish and surf.
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The next day we visited the aquarium in Long Beach with Ken’s dad, which was fine. Not the best aquarium I’ve ever seen, but they had a petting pool where you could pet rays and some little sharks, which was fun. We then went to tour the USS Iowa battleship, which was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
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All that gunpowder I’m posing with was needed to shoot one of these projectiles out of one of those big guns in the previous picture. I cannot imagine how loud and unsteady the ship must have been when they had all six of them going.
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After the battleship we visited the maritime museum that’s right nearby housed in an old ferry terminal. It was interesting, and once they kicked us out for closing time we ate at our favorite seafood restaurant: Ports O Call. Delicious. On Sunday morning, before I took Ken to the airport to catch his flight home, we went to see the space shuttle Endeavor at the CA science museum. That was the other highlight of the trip. It was totally amazing. So is Ken’s face in that picture, if you can see it in the shadow.
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After I dropped Ken off, I drove up to Santa Monica to kill some time before going to a metallographer friend’s house for a pre-conference dinner party. In Santa Monica I found lots of stores, lots of tourists, lots of fancy houses, and the end of Route 66! If I follow this road across two and a half states, I will be home!
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Surprise!

My dad is turning the big 60 in a couple of months, so my Mom came up with the idea that Ken and I should show up in Carson City, Nevada to surprise him while they were on vacation visiting friends during Mom’s spring break a couple of weeks ago. So we did!

The plan was that we would arrive in the middle of the night, which was not really optimal, but those were the affordable flights by time we decided everything. However, our flight was delayed and we ended up spending the night in Phoenix instead, and didn’t get into Reno until like noon on Friday. Mom let me know that they were hiking at a waterfall, so we showed up at the waterfall and hiked, expecting a short, half mile hike to find them. Well, a mile or so up a pretty significant hill in the hot sun I got a call from Mom,

“Where are you guys?!” We had seen them on the trail above us, so I was fairly sure that we were on the right trail. And we were, I could see her on the next little ridge on the phone with me. Turned out Dad had voluntarily sat down under a tree and taken his shoes off, so we were actually able to catch up to Sir Hikes Alot. He was extremely surprised! Actually, when we were about 20 feet away on the trail, he looked over directly at us, then looked away. He said he thought that guy looked a lot like Ken, but that Ken didn’t belong on a trail in Nevada.

After a lot of giggling, explanations, and triumphal declarations of successful surprising despite missed flights and our friends and hosts who Mom was sure were going to spill the beans, we headed down the (much shorter) trail back to the car to find us some food, since we hadn’t had lunch and it was nearing 2:00. Mom and Dad took us to a very cool restaurant in Carson City, Red’s Old 395 Grill, where we ate some lunch. We then went on another hike up another canyon where Ken spotted this little guy.
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That evening our old friends from our hometown who were wonderful hosts to us all fed us a delicious meal and we played games for a while. The next day we went skiing on the penultimate day of the ski season at Diamond Peak resort. This is what it looks like under the lift when you ski the penultimate day of the season. Not particularly encouraging.
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However, there was enough snow to make it off the lift and down the mountain, and the view was totally worth it.
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Gorgeous. Lake Tahoe is very beautiful, and I think the guy’s pretty good looking too!
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Company was good too.
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Because the three runs that were open weren’t actually that entertaining and were frankly getting rather bare and treacherous by 2:30, we called it quits early and went down to a park in a town just inside the CA border, where we noted that the water was at least 8 ft lower than the docks. Evidently there really is a drought.

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On the way back over the mountains to Carson City we had a good view of the ski area and the one run down from the top. Yes, that thin ribbon of snow is what we were skiing on. It definitely got thinner throughout the day.
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That night our hosts again cooked us a fantastic meal and had a little birthday party for Dad. We spent the evening again playing cards, then all left for our respective homes early the next morning. It was a short visit, but tons of fun. Special thanks to our Carson City hosts for enabling all of this, you guys are great!

Trains, skis, and Nepalese (food)

We took a somewhat last-minute trip to Durango over MLK weekend. While there, we took the narrow gauge steam train up the valley.
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The train track was quite impressively built. I’m not sure that this picture does the sheer drop to the river justice.
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The train was extremely cool.
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Next day, we skiied. Now those are real mountains.
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It was a nice day, the snow was decent, and the views were spectacular.
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That night we ate the most amazing meal. We ate at Himalayan Kitchen in downtown Durango. We had yak, among other things, and it was SO good. If/when we go back to Durango we’re going to eat every meal there. On MLK day we drove out to Wolf Creek, which was fantastic skiing as per usual. They have the best snow there. Too bad it’s a bit further than I really want to drive in one day there and back for skiing.

Christmas vacation part 2: in which we play inside, mostly games.

These four extremely blurry people are my four sisters. We were the oldest people playing at this indoor jump park by like… a lot. But we had a lot of fun!
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It was extremely obvious which ones of us had been 1. good at gymnastics and 2. on the dive team in high school. NOT ME. These two, actually.

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Some pictures from the inside of the cabin.
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Charming happy fellow in the back row there.
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Some people have no respect for a man’s mustache.
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Here are Ken’s siblings, we did see them too, although they weren’t all in town for all that long and most of our activities were more of the inside variety, during which I am less inclined to take pictures.
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My grandpa and step-grandma visited for the end of the week. I don’t know when the last time I saw them was.
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My brother-in-law organized a bonfire at my parents’ house and invited a bunch of friends from way back when. And then we went home to regular life, which is much less exciting than being on vacation.
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Thanksgiving trip to Texas, which evidently mostly includes Galveston if you believe the pictures

We drove to Lubbock after work the Tuesday of Thanksgiving (5 hours). We drove slightly east of Austin the day before Thanksgiving (6 hours). Texas is thrilling to drive through. I spent about an hour trying to get a picture of a cotton field, an oil well, and a windmill all in one picture. Clearly I failed, but that was one of the most entertaining hours out of the 11.

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We drove to Houston on Thanksgiving with Ken’s dad and aunt (2 hours). Ken’s Houston aunt has a shiba inu. Much cute. I want one.
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We drove to Galveston and spent the day there on the day after Thanksgiving (1 hour).

And in Galveston, we saw: a tall ship!
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And dolphins.
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We ate seafood. Unrelated to the birds, except that we ate outdoors and little birds were trying to eat all the food.
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We watched a giant drilling rig thing dock.
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We stuck our toes in the ocean. He’s tickling me.
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We drove back to Houston (1 hour).

The next day we drove back to the location east of Austin (2 hours), then into Austin for dinner (2 hours round trip). Somewhere in there Ken worked on his aunt’s faucet, but couldn’t fix it. There was a need for parts that weren’t available.
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The next day we drove all the way home (11 hours). Here’s the windmills. In this area the ranches advertise wind, beef, and something else I can’t remember. Natural gas, maybe?

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Total that’s 30 hours of driving. The good thing is that we only spent a total of like 2 hours fixing the vehicle we were driving, and we weren’t even on the side of the road, we were in relatives’ driveways.

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Moral of the story: Don’t promise to visit relatives in Texas, expecting that you will fix your broken truck and be able to tow stuff back, then not fix your truck and decide maybe you should fly, then check ticket prices and realize that three weeks before Thanksgiving is not a good time to buy tickets, and decide that driving sounds better after all unless you want to get burned out on road trips for several months. The effects still haven’t worn off. Still, got to meet one more of Ken’s cousins and see almost all of his dad’s side of the family.

Goodbye NYC

I started my Sunday with a 5 mile run (aiming for Oct 19 half marathon, we’ll see…), just sort of went one way from the hotel, then back the other way. I ended up running by the United Nations building by accident, so that was kind of cool.

After I showered we hoofed it over to church at Redeemer Presbyterian, which was fun. Singing with Kristina and Lauren was a weekly part of my pretty much my whole life from age 0 to age 17 and it was nice to do it again. We then wandered in search of some lunch food before I had to head to my train to go home. We found a macaron shop along the way. I bought one, just to try it and it wasn’t my favorite. It was too sweet and kinda boring. They sure are pretty though!
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After lunch at a middle-eastern fast food place (delicious!), I bid farewell to my fellow travelers and took the subway to Penn Station and waited for my Amtrak train. Things that I will not miss about NYC: The crowds of people. Everywhere.
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I then took the Amtrak train to CT, a taxi to the airport, two planes to ABQ, then drove myself home from the airport at about 2AM eastern time. Whew.
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What a trip! The only thing that I would have liked to see but didn’t is the Natural History museum. As there is a Natural History Museum in Albuquerque which I haven’t been to yet, I don’t think this is a sufficient reason to desire to return to NYC. I had a fantastic time with two of my best friends and the consensus among us is that we’re glad we went, but we never need to return.

Many rules, much musical

These lovely water lilies are in Central Park.
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Aren’t they pretty?
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There was a proposal going on four feet from us as I was taking these pictures. Don’t live in NYC, you can’t propose to your girlfriend without six tourists within a 6 foot radius.
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Anybody know what these flowers are? I like them. Think they’ll grow in NM? Probably not, looks like the require water and they also look like they would be delicious to rabbits and other rodents.
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Lauren, the intrepid explorer, has located a reservoir. Which you may ONLY jog around and ONLY in one direction. Don’t even think about bringing your dog or walking. There are SO many rules, I don’t know how people keep track.
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We went to the Met, which was gigantic. And sorta boring, because it was an art museum, and that’s how they are.
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They did have some suits of armor though, so it wasn’t a complete loss.
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Boating in Central Park! What could be more romantic? I’ll tell you what: going boating somewhere else where you don’t have to wait in what appeared to be a several hour long line to pay lots of money for the privilege of rowing around a muddy pond for 20 minutes with 25 other romantic boating couples. Curmudgeon much?
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Next we went to Times Square yet AGAIN and stood in line and actually bought musical tickets, then wandered roughly north and saw some famous locations. And did more shopping. Shopping is not exactly my favorite, but I did manage to buy something – a sweater, because we weren’t planning on going back to the hotel before the musical and I was wearing shorts and a tank top. That’s my souvenir from my NYC trip. I fail at shopping.
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And THEN. After a gigantic burger for dinner, we went to see Phantom of the Opera.
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Look at how excited they are! It was incredible. Best musical I’ve ever seen. Fulfilled goal #3 of my trip. Must be time to go home.
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