Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Farewell to Matthew...

Prior to our trip to Michigan, we took one last weekend drive with nephew Matt. We repeated a favorite trip from Matt's visit last summer, and visited Pinnacles National Monument. This summer, we took Matt to the eastern entrance to Pinnacles. (The two sides are not connected by road.) The eastern side has many more caves and fun paths.

After visiting Pinnacles, we stopped in the small town of San Juan Bautista, home of one of the more famous Spanish Missions. (This one was featured in the Hitchcock movie Vertigo...although the movie's legendary bell tower was added by Hitchcock, and not part of the real mission! The bell tower in the photo below is the real one, and not the one in the movie.) One highlight of San Juan Bautista was JJ's Burgers, where I had to try the JJ's famous Mexican hotdog...which is wrapped in bacon and covered with pico de gallo and jalapenos...YUM.

Hot nights in Portland...

I am soooooo frickin' behind on my blog posts! I know...I know. I've got pics and stories from Pinnacles, Muskegon, and Freedom (Indiana). But it sure does seem that the more I procrastinate diving back in, the more daunting the task.

So, let's just begin with today. Portland.

I am pleased to report that my flight here was TOTALLY UNEVENTFUL. Can you imagine? Early to the airport. Easy check-in. On time departure and arrival.

Its quite warm in Portland this evening. Over 90F when we landed. But Jeff reports that its warm in SF this evening as well. (Although this is nothing compared with the 100+ degrees we will see in Las Vegas this weekend!)

Tonight, I'll curl up in Westin's famous "heavenly bed"...we'll see!! I'm still a travel skeptic for a bit while longer :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Relaxing in Michigan...

I'm pleased to report that the stress from Saturday's travel quickly melted away...although not from summer temps.

Sunday and Monday were quite cool all day, and the overcast skies were only broken enough to dump showers throughout the day. Still, the rain brought relief to an overly dry summer (glad we could help) and gave us an excuse to stay indoors and play with the kids...boy did they eat it up.

Today (Tuesday), the sun broke through in the afternoon and the temps followed suit. We took advantage, and took a dip in the pool. Fantastic.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Down for the count...

Well...we arrived in Muskegon just after 5am Eastern Time. The day threw about as much at us as possible...but we survived...weary with lingering anger, but now only caring about sleep.

The drive to Muskegon had its own obstacles...misleading rental car signs at O'Hare...the Illinois state champion Slowest Toll Booth Attendant along the Skyway...steady downpours thru most of Michigan...tons of road construction that made our GPS sugggest right when we needed to go left. But again...we survived.

Jeff's parents woke up to welcome us with hugs. The cats are purring. The rains have cooled the air to a perfect sleeping temp.


Twist of fate...

By a quarter past 3pm, we made our way to the front of the United customer service line. A new helper arrived just as we got to the front--go figure--and began crossing off our by one...redeyes, other airlines, and connections. Gloom and doom.

Suddenly, two seats popped up on a direct flight at 5pm! We were stunned, but you never question fate.

We are still PISSED at United for waiting four hours to cancel our flight...such that most alternatives are gone. That is no way to treat people. But, at least we will (fingers crossed) arrive in Muskegon before breakfast.

One sad observation. I overheard United telling one traveler who was being booked on a flight tomorrow that there were no hotels available. "But if you find one on your own, here is a form to fill out." What?????

Saturday, August 18, 2007


After telling us that a new plane was coming in to carry us to Chicago, our flight was eventually cancelled at 2pm. Aparently, we're getting re-routed to a redeye out of San Diego. Oooooo, a connection...that should be fun.

Of couse, now we have to stand in a long customer service line that snakes off to infinity. How is it that Safeway knows how to spot a long line and call a manager over to help with surge support, but United sticks with two lonely smiling faces regardless of the line?

Deja vu...

Soooooo, we've de-planed...oh and I saw the captain wander off to get food...never a good sign.

After a full hour in the gate area, with people scrambling to re-book connections, the gate agent FINALLY came on and said they would make a 'decision' at hour from now. No sense trying to re-book to Chicago...the next two flights are over sold. Joy.

Frankly, I'm fine with delays...I just want information. Pretty please?

Off we go...but nowhere fast...

For every yin there is a yang. And lately, my travel has offered more than its share of yangs.

We're on our way to Michigan this morning, and the day started off quite nicely. Our taxi was early. Check-in was smooth. Security lines were almost non-existent. And I even had time to grab a latte from Peets before our on-time flight.

Unfortunately, an on-time push back from the gate doesn't always translate to an on-time departure. After an hour on the tarmac at SFO, we returned to the gate to investigate a 'noisy air conditioning duct'.

Hopefully this is not a repeat of Denver! Fingers crossed.

One fun item...I read this fantastic quote in Bon Appetit describing drinking a mojito--my current favorite drink--in Cuba.

"The Mojito is almost like an unpretentious way of sprucing up the rum you're going to drink anyway--just because its hot out and you're pleasantly bored and you want to take the edge off."

Hmmmm...I could use some edge removal right about now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Uh...was that a chicken?

Well...I think I ran over a dead chicken on 3rd Street on the way home...a whole, white-feathered dead chicken. In an otherwise ordinary week, that is 1. very odd and 2. very blogworthy.

How exactly do you lose a chicken in San Francisco?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Moving up...

Amazing sometimes the snippets of conversation you hear in the elevator. Today, on my short trip up, I overheard two young folks, dressed in "college casual", headed into the office:

Gal: "How are things?"

Guy: "Same ol' shit...different pile." [silence] "Did you hear that I'm transferring to New York?"

Gal: "No way." [silence] "Are they offering you a managerial job?"

Hmmmm, maybe you had to see the two of them to appreciate the irony. Oh well, that's the future of America...definitely executive material :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lost art...

What a sad day. It seems that the opening of Muni's new Third Street light rail line has triggered a cleanup around the route and surrounding neighborhoods. The most visible casualty? Nearly all of the lovely, colorful Bayshore graffiti has been painted over with a safe neutral palette. Surely, there is more a compromise between banality and filth.

Nah, I don't mind that all the nasty trash has been removed, but check out these after and before shots from my regular photo route. I suppose the good news is that my prints are now unique forever!

Otherwise, this was a pretty low-key weekend. We caught The Simpsons Movie on Friday night. Saturday, we test drove a couple of cars to replace Jeff's aging beast of a vehicle. And Sunday, we drove north to Napa to pick up a wine club shipment.

[Note on the Simpsons Movie. Like most Simpsons adventures, there were moments that made me laugh out loud, lines that we have been quoting since Friday, and long stretches that just made me sit back and smile. I am certain that upon repeated viewing I will discover the hidden gems and those subversive elements that have forever ingrained the Simpsons in my subconscious. And yet, with all the build-up of expectations, you can't help but come away with a wish list of could-have-beens. But to be fair, we don't see many films on the big screen any more, and my aversion to theatres and strangers couldn't help but sedate me a bit. Sooooo, thumbs up...with an eager eye to the DVD, when I can soak it all in on MY terms.]

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rolling with it...

United stuck right with my two-hour delay in Denver last night, so I arrived home around 12:30 in the morning without further disruption.

The funny thing is that by the end of these long summer travel days, the airports are almost stark contract with the palpable tension in the terminal just hours earlier. The remaining delayed travelers seem to have accepted their fate, and people settle down with a book, or a video game, or in one case I spotted in Denver...knitting.

For me, the delay was a fitting bookend to a stressful trip all around. Fortunately, I got to meet fantastic coworkers in Miami, who invited me into their fold like old friends.