Vacation and personal trips.

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No Sleep Till Sunset!


Iceland. Land of glaciers, hot springs and geothermal pools. Green where its neighbor is icy, it’s a jewel in the North Atlantic. The area surrounding Reykjavík, the capital city, contains more than 2/3rds of the population of the entire country, all of whom could comfortably rent a 2-bed, 2-bath apartment in the Valley and we wouldn’t even notice a bump in the traffic.

Long, long ago, way back in the annals of history, I used to take trips places just for fun. Maybe I wasn’t the world traveler on my own dime that I have become on someone else’s, but I’m still proud of the trips I took and the choices I made to do it. It’s not often that I get out on the road for my own fun anymore, but this time, old pal Tim and I made it happen.

WoW Air is gone!

In that vein, I want to present to you a long-overdue, and thus quick, recap of a visit to Iceland I made 2 years ago, during the early summer of 2017. This is partially in honor of WoW air, the Iceland-based discount flyer whose cheap-ass fares brought a generation of people to Iceland and helped make the island nation the trendiest hotspot of the decade. While I may have missed the trend by a smidge, I still loved the trip.

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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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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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Paris 2016


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


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


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


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


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.

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Time Lapse Through the Barossa


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.

Where we were headed
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Mt Whitney Pics


Where we were headed

Where we were headed

So Mt. Whitney wasn’t a vacation, per se, but I don”t have an “Outdoor Torture” category, so for lack of a better place to put it, some notes on my hike go here.

I’m not sure where to start, really.

campsite by the river

campsite by the river

We arrived Monday at around midday for our Wednesday hike (Drew had somehow gotten tickets for Papa’s birthday on the 25th, which is supposed to be impossible, given that they issue ~150 passes/day for the mountain, which always sell out almost immediately) and got a great campsite.

like many of these posts of this era, something clearly got lost in translation.  In this case, I’ve found pictures, but lost the rest of what the post was supposed to be, and even the various SQL dumps can’t be made to cough up posts they don’t have.  Pics after the fold.
(…MO 2016_0803)
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I owe some updates


There is a lot of updating to do, as since my last update, I climbed Mt Whitney and spent a couple days in Vegas.  I’ve got pictures and a bit of video that I may edit together.  I’ve got a shoot for The Brownie Project on Thursday, too, which is looking fun.  Anyway, maybe in the morning I’ll upload some pix of the climb, which seems a lot less hardcore since I’m watching Discovery’s Everest right now.

Anyway, happy Tuesday night.

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I’m in Michigan


I was supposed to be skiing Wednesday, Thursday and today, but after 3 hours of rainy skiing Wednesday and no skiing (or break from the rain) on Thursday, I awoke today to gray-but-dry-skies, a fresh inch of snow on the ground (the only inch we have here) and the slopes opening for business as usual.

I only skied for about 5.5 hours today, but that’s okay – I’m fat and out of shape and committed to getting more skiing in this winter, both with Casey AND with Drew.  I’m even considering looking into doing a group ski thing up to Big Bear or Mountain High or whatever – we’ll see.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in – it’s been another long-ass time.  Ann Arbor again tomorrow, then Cleveland.  Back to Detroit (where I’d like to buy a house) on Monday, then to LA and business for the week before Christmas.

New Library at Alexandria
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Egypt – Days 4-6


On Friday, I let myself have a true vacation, a real break from just about everything, and just read my book (I think I was thrashing through the last few pages of A Short History of Nearly Everything) and worked on my screenplay.  As an aside, I really need to start typing my screenplays so I can properly call them screenplays rather than feel guilty for not calling them ideas, which, at this point, is all they are, but whatever.  It’s like I got into my head that to be a better writer, I needed to do a lot of prepwork, but then I take so long doing that prep that the world passes me by and I end up bored with the story, interested in another thing, or just forget about the first project altogether.  It’s absurd.
Back to Friday.

Facade of the Egyptian Museum
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Egypt – Day 3


Facade of the Egyptian MuseumWelcome back!

Today’s installment takes us to the Egyptian Museum in big, bad Tahrir Square, through that self-same roundabout, across Cairo into the City of the Dead and to a Mosque built over 800 years ago, as well as to a few other places I may or may not get to.

I can’t decide if I recommend reading any further today, actually, because today was so much weirder than yesterday and definitely contained less iconic stuff (although King Tut’s shit is pretty well-known).  It did give me an eye-opening view of what the city is like from street level, that’s for sure.


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Egypt – Day 2


Today I forced myself out of bed at 6am (okay, 6:20) and after meandering a bit, went to grab breakfast, then came back to the room to finish getting ready for my epic hilltop day.  Plan was to walk up there early, wander around the outside of the pyramids, then, depending on time and energy and the sense of the place, maybe pay for admission to the Great Pyramid.  Admission to the grounds is 60EGP.  The walk was easy, but the concierge was right that it’s better to take a taxi – even at 745 the sun is already getting brutal and there’s noise and dust… actually it was kind of fun.

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Egypt, Day 1


In case you were wondering about the weather for the next few stories, I figure I’ll just post the 10-day forecast and see if it deviates at all.  Easier to be a meterologist here than in LA, even, I bet.


I arrived without any trouble at the airport, got through customs (the entry visa was either $15 or 90EGP, which as far as I can figure it is cheaper in $, but who am I to understand the trivialities of exchange rates?  Anyway, I talked to a few cabbies (or they talked to me), and settled on a guy who was affable and agreed to take me to the hotel for 100EGP. With the exchange rate at 5-to-1ish, I couldn’t complain.  Anyway, he actually misunderstood where I wanted to go (unless he was a fabulous actor, in which case, snaps to him) and when I showed him written, he didn’t know it.  Hilarity ensued.  Not really – we just took surface streets half way to the pyramids, which was actually way more interesting, if a bit slower.  My guy even had to stop for gas, which cost 3GBP and seemed like maybe half a tank.  We drove around the entry to the ring road looking for the hotel, and after only stopping twice for questions and backing down a major thoroughfare, we managed it eventually.  Of course, he asked for double his initial fare, and, after thinking about it a second, I paid him, happily, even.  Now, I know I was supposed to negotiate, scream and yell, etc., but I had nothing smaller than a 100, and I just felt soft today.  Maybe this is my way of giving to charity, since I distain beggars.

Updates and complete story after the break.

Scooter by Coliseum
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We were at the Coliseum!  Or is it Colosseum? Whatever it is, I got to Zagreb from Rome yesterday by way of Venice and wanted to post a quick update saying that I’m back in the blogging game with a vengeance!  Or at least back with a small whimper.

Rome was awesome.  The Pantheon is still amazing, there’s an ancient pyramid somewhere south of the city, Pompei is a totally-doable day trip, although you have to be prepared because it’s effing huge, and the Sistine Chapel really does have a lot of paint in it.  Renting a scooter was awesome although driving in Rome was frustrating because I’d swear I knew where I was going and *boom* we were across town in a giant park about to get on the freeway.  Ah well.

More details after the break.

Generic Colosseum
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Rome = Booked.


Generic ColosseumIt’s done. We’re going to Rome.  And the flying is free.  Lest I ever complain about working for a tour again, here’s what you can tell me: “You had to buy the most expensive tickets, miles-wise, to get the flight that you wanted, but because you did, you got exactly the flight that you wanted. So suck it up.”

Now, even with the free flights I can’t afford to be staying in $250/night hotels while I’m there or anything, but at least we’re going.  Honestly, where we stay isn’t really that important – having a bed and a place to put my bags is really the only thing that matters.  Now comes the fun of figuring out how much the rest of the trip costs, and how we’ll do it economically enough to make it possible.  Let’s just say that I’m saving as much of my per diem as I can while I’m on the road. Of course, with these Canadian exchange rates, it’s not easy.

That’s all for now.  I’ll update with more plans as we make them.  Put the first week of June on your calendars, ’cause if you’re going to be in Italy around then, we’ll totally have to meet up.

Wright Brothers Vintage
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Flying Fool


Wright Brothers VintageIf the Brothers Wright could see what atrocities were being done to their work by the TSA and a willing public these days, they’d probably have kept flying to themselves.

Flying today has become an embarrassment of epic proportions – incompetent drones following absurdist mandates from an ever-terrified group of know-nothings in suits who sit in dark rooms and think up ways to look like they’re doing their jobs without once considering whether their jobs are providing the service for which they were intended lo those many years ago. The act o getting to a seat on an airplane these days can make even the sanest folk crazy.  No wonder Americans largely eschew flight for staying home and watching American Idol.  They’re not ignorant, backwater, dis-engaged and incurious, but rather staging the largest, longest and most sedentary sit-in of all time because they know what the TSA can (and does) do to you when you dare to try to fly.

That said, it’s still marginally less obnoxious than driving across the country (and sailing across oceans), so I do it when called upon by the minstrel gods of rock n roll.  Especially when those same singers give me a couple of days off to hang out with my mom in Glen Mills.  Good stuff.

There’s snow here (that I should be shoveling out) and the poor dog is lamed by cancer (most likely) in her shoulder and foreleg, but mom is well and the house looks great.  I’m getting work done sitting here at my mom”s kitchen table, checking 4 email boxes with only a bit more difficulty (and 2 computers) than usual.  This leg of the tour is the official start of the “working from the road” program that I should have been implementing throughout all of 2010, but was too lazy to attempt.  so far, it’s been a smashing success.  Having Emily at home to help out is actually really awesome – knowing that things will get done well in my absence is important to my mental health, I think.

Okay, time to get outside to shovel a little more of the driveway before moms gets home.

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Drew Hawaii


Hanauama BayWe made it back from Hawaii!

2500 miles from mainland in the middle of the Pacific (and south of the Tropic of Cancer), Hawaii provided the backdrop of Drew’s Bachelor Weekend. The surprise worked and Drew had a great time, which was the #1 most important thing – in fact, it was the only thing.  As icing on the cake, I had a great time, too.  We had great weather, rented fun scooters and drove almost all the way around the island.  It rained, after a fashion, for a little while on a couple of days, but it wasn’t even enough to get you wet.  Awesome.  We swam in the balmy-warm ocean, saw sea turtles and pineapple fields, and managed to avoid sunburn almost altogether.

Anyway, check out my gallery of all the images after the break if you want.