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Travel

Sometimes I go places.

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South Africa’s Wine Country

Food & Wine, Travel, Vacation

southafrica_wine_35Back in May of 2013, I visited South Africa’s wine country an hour or so north of Cape Town for a couple days and loved it.  As you can see by the pictures below, I couldn’t get enough of the mist atop the mountains on morning 1. The views were breathtaking and the weather was perfect.

Pictures and such after the break!

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Places I’ve Been

Travel

Here’s a test of a “places I’ve been” map.  It’s not complete, but to match with the “bucket list” post, I think I have to have a list of places I’ve visited.  Blue is work-only, violet is vacation, touring, travel – something with actual, meaningful time spent in-country.  If you click on a country with a description, you might be rewarded with a link to a post about that country.

The map is, as always, after the break.

Late-breaking addition: this is my 15ooth post.
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Budapest

Travel, Vacation

europe2015_351From bizarre museums to beautiful baths, Budapest really had a lot to offer.  Again, more than a year later, I’m thinking about the things I didn’t photograph and wishing I had, which is strange for someone who takes so many pictures.  But nothing of our weird AirBnB accommodations, nothing of the baths (which was, I believe, against the rules anyway), and nothing of any of the places we ate, which, while not spectacular, were at least enjoyable and unique.

I loved walking up to the Buda Castle – so much to explore, and going up and coming back down different ways was a real treat. And we certainly met our step goals!  The rain held off long enough that we stayed dry, too, which was true pretty much across the board for our trip. Lucky us!

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I went to Champagne!

Travel, Vacation

europe2015_239With all this talk about travel, it occurs to me that during my 2+ year layoff where I didn’t post, some things happened that I’d like to have record of, here, somewhere, wherever.  So I’ll break those things up into some posts and put them up as I think of them.

Today, I want to talk about Champagne.

I don’t feel like my pictures were very successful here, and maybe that reflects my sort of general inability to do things right on this leg of the trip.  I didn’t book us very many tours (three), and we didn’t get accommodations till like the night before.  That turned out okay, but then there was the drive, where getting out of Paris was stressful, but ultimately trouble-free.

Reims is a beautiful little city and it really does feel like a gateway to wine country – like they’re celebrating you for having arrived and wishing you well on your journey onward. While our journey onward was not to Bourgogne but to Budapest, we had plenty of champagne for the ride, which helped us make friends and have a great ride (or as great as it could have been, under the circumstances) all the way to Hungary.

40ish pics after the break.

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Travel Bucket List – Version 1α

Travel

France_2016_408Travel is important. It gives us perspective. It challenges our perceptions. It teaches us problem solving.  It comes with great food.  It interrupts the normal flow of our lives and reminds us that there’s so much out there to see and do.

Travel makes us better.  We could all use to be better.

I’ve been thinking a lot about travel these days (both because I don’t have the money to do it and because I’ve been going to lots of places I’ve already been), and to that end, I thought I’d make a travel post. Well, that, and the fact that I haven’t posted in a REALLY long time again. Whoops.  It’s been nice seeing all these old photos from trips as I’ve been running through the site, too.

I think it’s a good idea to keep a “Bucket List” of places that we want to go. I hate the phrase “Bucket List,” but I’m using it, and I promise not to put it into quotes anymore.  Keeping a list, and keeping it updated, is a good way to keep your longer-term goals in mind, after all.  This is, however, only a “Places I Want To Go” list with a smidge of “What I Want To Do When I Get There” thrown in for good measure.  It is, by no means, intended to be an exhaustive list of all the shit I want to see, accomplish or experience in my life.

After the break is my current list.  In the vein of “fuck it, let’s post,” I’m putting it up even though it’s not “done” or even “ready” because, damnit, I never post anymore.  So click through and tell me what you think.

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Paris 2016

Vacation

France_2016_025Believe it or not, Paris was again on the agenda in May, this time with Laura, and I have 409 pictures to prove it.  The full story is a little long, but the pictures tell it better anyway.

We did get to spend a day out at Mt. Ste. Michel, which was every bit as beautiful than it was 20 years ago, albeit unexpectedly crowded. After a long half day at Versailles, we visited the town of Chartres, too. The town itself was beautiful and charming, and I’d never paid it much attention before, so that was a nice surprise.

I’ll even be making a real binder with printed photos and little keepsakes for the first time in years. I like binders and I like printed photos, so that’s nice, too! A souvenir of souvenirs, if you’ll excuse the gratuitous use of French in a post about France.

Also, I got to eat a lot of ice cream.

Pictures, as usual, after the break.

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Wine Tasting in Mendoza

Food & Wine, Vacation

Back in April 2015 I flew down to Buenos Aires and then, with a little help from my good friend Silvana, drove cross-country to Mendoza (an 11-hour ordeal made longer by jet lag and police checkpoints), then had three beautiful days in an amazing wine region.  The pictures below barely do the place justice, but they’re a step. A mildly out-of-order step, at least, because there doesn’t seem to be any way to organize the photos in a gallery by simple file name (clearly, I’m missing something), but a step nonetheless.

wine_pressOver those beautiful days, I got to eat and drink some of the best fare the region had to offer, from cosmopolitan restaurants in Mendoza to food trucks by a famous apple tree. I didn’t get the full story on that one, unfortunately.  I did take pictures.

I fell in love with a town south of Mendoza proper called Tupungato – it was quaint, pretty, and perfectly situated in wine country.  Analogous, maybe, to Solvang as it relates to Santa Barbara, although thankfully without the absurd Danish influence.  I didn’t take enough pictures there, but I did have a couple of very nice meals and some good wine (one from a house called “Finca Flichman” that I found particularly fun).

More trip and winery details follow the break!

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Driving to Portland

Vacation

Portland may not have been all I was dreaming of and more, but we take the good with the bad and just fucking own it, right?  I did manage to do a decent shoot up that way and see Scott and Sharon, so there were some good parts of the weekend, too.

One of the best of the bad things was the fog on the drive up.  It was super stressful for ~300 miles, with dense fog, then a patch of clear, then another long run of zero-vis.  I”m glad I was doing a Time Lapse!  Anyway, below the fold is the video if you”re interested, complete with a mashup by Loo & Placido. (…because what else?)

One thing to note is that I had to turn around about 10 minutes into the drive, adding 40 minutes to the overall trip, but it syncs up really nicely with the intro to the song, so it”s 100% okay now in a way that it definitely was not before.  Anyway, enjoy.

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London with Laura

Vacation

LONDON_009I went to London with Laura in September, and am just now getting around to posting some pictures.

There are like 150 in all, which reflects about 20% of the overall shots I took in the 4 days we had.  I wish I didn’t hate photo editing so much.

All the pics after the break!

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headin’ to Philly

Vacation

media_crewNow that I’m not traveling for a living anymore (what AM I doing for a living anymore?), I have to make an actual effort to see people I love. I’m doing it, even if it’s not THAT often, and this weekend is Philly.  I’m actually psyched – it’s a long weekend and I can promise we won’t get up to much, but that’s okay because I’m lazy.

I’ll definitely snap a couple photos, though.

Roo Crossing
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New Year, New Time Lapse

Vacation

I keep doing these things – I don”t know why.  I know that I”m in Australia and that”s cool, and I know that most people don”t get to see this sort of view often (at least, I don”t), so I”ll put it up. I spent an unreasonable amount of time tweaking this thing, recording the voiceover (which is terrible, I apologize in advance), making decisions and generally fretting, but at the end of the day I figured it wasn’t going to get better, so I hit the EXPORT button.
Like the rest, vid moved after the break for organization’s sake.

screencap
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Time Lapse Through the Barossa

Vacation

I did a weird time lapse video of the drive south through basically the entire Barossa Valley in South Australia yesterday.  It’s weird because I inexplicably chose 12 fpm as a format, which just makes it all look unnaturally-jumpy to me.

Sorry about that.
As usual, video after the break.

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leaving again!

Tour

el_jeepoI failed to update much while I was home. I did not, however, fail to be busy. Jeep rhinolining came in and it’s AWESOME.

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for my faithful…

Tour

I know everybody gets their stuff on FB anymore, but for people who still use the internet as if it’s not a revival of AOL in 1996, here’s the first of many pics to come from Spain Doesn’t Suck 2013. I’ve had an amazing 2 days here, and now it’s time for more travel, more wine, and less sleep. Because how is 4 hours not enough for 5 or 6 nights in a row? I’m happy with it at the moment, but of course that could be the wine speaking.

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back-to-back-to-back-to-back…

Tour

and wow I’m tired!some_stadiumWe’ve been running hard this month, no doubt. I’m in Cologne today for a show, yesterday was a show in Stuttgart, Wednesday was Gdansk, Tuesday was Berlin… and this coming Monday is Prague. By my math, that’s 5 shows in 7 days.

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I lost my bag at Heathrow!

Tour

But not how you’d think.

This time, I put my stuff through, and (it turns out) someone grabbed my bag thinking it was theirs.  It was a real pain in the ass, and I had to make a pain in the ass out of myself to make someone get it back, because I wasn’t about to let it go without a fight.

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back in Canada

Tour

What do you think of that?

I’ve been in central Canada for a few days now, and I can tell you that it’s cold here.  Calgary and Edmonton were somehow warmer (despite Edmonton being further north) than Winnipeg, which is surprisingly still covered in snow for the most part.  I mean, the city is clear, but there’s old plow-piles everywhere and the trans-canada highway has snowy fields the whole way.  Crazy.  Or not.

Flew over the Rockies from Vancouver to Calgary with a cloudless sky, which was awesome.  Photos don’t really do it justice, but I still should have taken more.  Ah well.

I’ve also been home for 5 days and in Vegas for 4 since last I updated.  Maybe in NYC, too.  I forget when my last update was.  I’m still sleeping terribly and not exercising enough, I still have bad allergies after I wake up every day, and I’m still being uncreative. Not a good combo.  Let’s tackle some of those things during this leg, yeah?

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the inevitable return of the great white dope

Tour

banging away at my tried-and-true refrain of “OMG, I’m so tired!

I should be asleep, given that it’s 130am, but I’m somehow awake.  I already put laundry in, showered and made the bed, so now I’m sitting on it, waiting for the laundry to go in the dryer and then I’ll try to sleep.  We’ll see how that goes.  Anyway, I wrote this update on the plane and was going to post it tomorrow, but here I am, so here it is.  No pics or anything – sorry about that.  Next time, I’ll give it visual aids.

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Canada, eh?

Tour

So we’re in Canada, and the show is in full swing. Montreal loved us, which is always nice, and we’re setting up in Toronto for show #1 of 2 in a row.  I love these days where we have a full day off and then two shows in a row in a single venue – it’s like getting spoiled.  Much better than the 2-in-a-row gigs that have us doing short across-the-border runs that have the very real chance of getting fucked up.

The only bad thing about days off is that I spend a lot of money. I’m trying to be better about it, and somewhat succeeding, but unlike last tour, this time I’m much more social and inclined to go out at the beginning.  There’s more to do, at least.  I also can’t claim success at working out more – I’ve done a little, but not enough to call “working out.”

i broke it!
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This is why they call it rehearsal

Tour

i broke it!

This is why they call it rehearsal, I guess.  I’ve been trying and failing to bring in gear via traditional channels (Amazon, Newegg) and Overnight shipping, but something isn’t working, and I don’t know why.  I’ve been on the phone with the credit card companies, on email with the vendors, and both teams are blaming the other.  Not good.

I also tore the video line out of my confidence monitor, which is less-than exciting, to say the least.  I’m hoping that the guys that I use for these things (Videotex systems) can get through with replacements where the big guys can’t.  If nothing else, it could be because of the personal attention.  We’ll see.

I have to order plexi, too, but at this point, I’m nervous about sending it anywhere that I might not be for more than 24 hours.  I’m also not going to send it internationally, even though we’re just talking about Canada.  Today, I at least take measurements for the plexi I need.  We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, no fitness dispatches from the road yet – I’m still trying to get back into roadie shape.  I’m exhausted, and while the days are long, they’re not long. Not by the standards of a PA or someone who’s used to real days of labor.  I’m just out of “gigging shape” as the guys say.  I’ll try to get my act together tonight if it’s a shorter day today.  Also, there’s a chance that I’ll book a BRANDED shoot for Thursday evening.  The odds are slim, but I’m already thinking about my options for lighting.

Happy Wednesday!

London Skyline, seen from King's College Doctoral Study room
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London and Stuttgart

Tour

So it’s early morning in Stuttgart and I’m not sleeping, which is dumb.

The gig in London went off, albeit with a minor hitch, and though we managed it, I do have cause to re-focus my efforts on making my kit that much better. Of course, that means spending money, but still. Better gear is better gear. There’s also two more gigs in the offing right now, so that’s a good thing.

Music Bank
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Plane Crash! Stories from the Backline, Volume 1

Tour

aa_logo2So American Airlines changed its logo. They should have changed their ground crew, too, because during our on-time pushback from the gate at LAX yesterday morning, my plane backed into another plane.

So I was in a plane crash. Really.

Apparently, the ground crew dude was on crack or busy texting his girlfriend or something because someone failed to notice the giant airplane right next to us. A nine-year-old girl on our flight, however, didn’t miss it, and was heard to tell her parent that we were about to hit that plane. Lo and behold, she was correct.

Needless to say, this caused some consternation on the flight deck and among the crew, and eventually led to our disembarkation and a wait of a couple hours while they drummed up some other plane and probably kept some other poor schlubs on the ground so we could go. Of course, I missed my flight from Chicago to Heathrow, but the tour travel agent is like a ninja and nothing can stop her, so she made it all better.

MusicBankSo I’m in London. I’m at a place called Music Bank Studios. It was probably a bullet factory during WWII or something, because it’s got that weird, ambling character of old European compounds that’s both charming and infuriating. Because of the late arrival of my flight (the flight was on time, it was the change that made me late), I had to take a cab that cost >$200. Couple that with the fact that London has no idea about bypasses or highways around things, and you had me riding from Heathrow to the studio through the center of London. Absurd.

I found myself laughing out loud in the back seat, though, because we passed like every major monument in London, and those were just the ones I recognized through my bleary-eyed haze. I mean, the Natural History museum, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the Eye, the Fire Memorial the Tower of London complex, and then we crossed the Tower Bridge. It was too much. If only I hadn’t had Britain’s most taciturn cabbie, I could have been getting like the private tour of London monuments.

Anyway, now I’m here, and after the break, I’ve posted the bigger version of the picture here so you can see some details. I tried to grab a pic of the London skyline from here, but there’s nothing really to see. I have a couple things, but they all suck. I might eventually make an album here with random shots from tour, and if I do, you’ll get to see all my failed attempts at photography from this gig.

As Shang Tsung says: “It has begun!”