Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

LAX Sucks

May 23, 2017

LAX is one huge airport. We arrived home last night after a long non stop flight from Boston. The service was great on Delta and the flight was pretty much on time. Smooth sailing all the way until we got to LAX. That’s when thing went south. 

Our Boeing 737 pulls up to the gate. Seat belt sign goes off and everyone rises to gather their belongings. And then we wait. There was no gate agent to operate the jetway. So finally after 5-10 minutes, the jetway is moved into place and everyone proceeds to exit the aircraft. So were at gate 21 in terminal 2. So I think to myself, this is pretty good, not a long walk to baggage claim. 

So we get on the escalator down to baggage claim. Sign says our luggage will be on carousel 5. There is no carousel 5 in terminal 2. There are carousels 1-4. Carousel 5 we learned is a way down the road in terminal 3. Not good. My legs and feet are killing me. About half way there, we meet some of the people that were on our flight heading back towards terminal 2. So we do an about face and head back to the carousels in terminal 2. They tell us our luggage will not be on carousel 5 but on one of the carousels in terminal 2. So eventually we find our luggage coming down the chute on carousel 2. No notice, no signage.

So with luggage in hand we head out to the street to look for where our shuttle to our parking lot would be. There were signs for rental cars, hotels, etc. but nothing about parking shuttles. We see one of our shuttles fly by, but we were to far away to flag him down, That happened one more time. Feet and legs are getting worse.So eventually we find a small sign that states that parking shuttles are up stairs on the departure concourse. So up the escalator we go. Finally we got on a bus for “Wally Park” only to find out that “Wally Park” and “Wally Park Express” are two different parking lots and shuttles. “Wally Park Express” (which we were looking for) picks up down stairs. ARGGGGG!!!! Nice driver agreed to take us to WPE. I think maybe he was fearing for his life if he didn’t take us. So he took us to our car and he helped us load our luggage into the Jeep.

So we got into the Jeep and settled up with the cashier. Then off we went heading for the 405. We stopped at an In-n-Out burger joint to pick up a hamburger for Paula and a double-double for me. Man it was good to get into my old Jeep. It’s well broken in and comfortable. I was much relieved to turn in the rental Ford Expedition. More about that later. It’s good to be home.

Advertisements

Wheels Up

May 17, 2017

Well we arrived safe and sound in Boston last night. It was a long day. We were up at 0500 to get ready. We had a light breakfast, showered and got dressed. We got Mary up at about 0630 and got he breakfast ready. By 0700, our care giver had arrived. I gave her the nickle tour. We explained once again to Mary where we were going and when we would be back. She looked like such a lost soul. But for our sanity, we have to do it.

For these trips we hire home care people from a company called CarenetLA to take care of Mary. They do a great job. When we first started to use them a few years ago, we only had them during the day. Now, we need them to be there 24/7.

By 0715, we were out the door and heading to LAX. Our flight was at 1115. We were concerned about traffic and SNAFU’s related to Delta’s gate move from gate 5 to gate7. Local news people were saying allow extra time, so we did. So that means with normal traffic, we were through security with 3 hours to wait. Groan. But it sure feels good to be out on the road.

I am getting to really detest air travel. I mean really, really detest it. Air planes are more crowded. When was the last time you saw an airplane half full? So Paula and I went to the bathroom and looked for a place to sit and wait. Departure lounge was packed. People sitting on the ground. So we headed to the Starbuck’s and got some coffee and a blueberry scone to share. Managed to find two seats.

Okay here’s the deal. Normally, I would prefer to book a non-stop flight. For hour outbound flight from LAX to BOS, that would mean either a flight that leaves very early like 0700 or 0800, gets into BOS at about 5 pm, just in time for rush hour. Or we could take the red-eye leave at 10 or 11 pm and get into BOS at 0600. So we were stuck with the in between option. Booked a flight that left at about 11 am with stop at Minneapolis-St Paul change planes for the final leg to BOS. Taking the 0800 nonstop means getting up at 4 am to get to LAX by 0600.

The other choice is the red-eye. Leave LAX at 10 pm and arrive in BOS at 06:30. No good choices

So. the last couple of three years we have decided to splurge and book first class. If one is careful, you can get a reasonable price. It eases the pain a bit but the flight was still packed. Airlines generally have about 3 levels of coach. Each level up gives you a little more leg room, United calls it “Comfort Plus”, NOT! So with first class, I don’t have to pay for baggage, don’t have to pay for food or drink on the flight. And you get a little bit more attention from the stewardess.

Actually the food on both legs was pretty decent. As soon as I sat down on the LAX-MSP leg, stewardess gets me a gin and tonic. Excellent.

So I made the reservations back in February, well before the recent dust ups on United and American. I picked Delta for no other reason that we had used them before and they weren’t bad. I think that any of the few major airlines are capable of doing bad things to there customers. You pick one and you take your chances. You just hope that noone had a melt down on your flight.

So we arrived in MSP on time. I get off the flight and look at the departure screen to see where our gate would be for the MSP-BOS leg would be. Arrival gate was G21, our departure gate was D4. Oh FxxK, I say. MSP is a huge Delta hub. It would be hard to imagine a longer hike between gates. So we get on the moving walkway and head for D4. Halfway there, an airport shuttle driver took pity on us and asked if we would like a lift. Oh yes, please we answer. So off we went. Got to the gate. Delta had just started to board.

So we landed in BOS on time at about 9:30 PM and headed to the rental car bus. At Logan, the rental car companies share a common facility. Got up to the Avis desk and gave my credit card and driver’s license. I had requested a Ford Escape SUV.  They didn’t have any Ford Escapes. So they give me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Are you kidding me? That car is like a tank. It is huge. The major problem is that I will have to return it with a full tank of gas. I shudder to think what that’s going to cost me. Avis is officially on my shit list. There are other rental car companies in this world.

And one more thing. Every time I rent a new car it takes me a day or so to figure out how everything works. I get into the car and it takes me 10-15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the headlights. I can’t find out all the switches because the garage is dark.

And another thing. Man it gets dark out here. As we headed out Rte 2 into the Exurbs the ambient light god darker and darker. It’s not like that in LA. You have to get out into the desert to get that kind of darkness.

And finally, we are now back in the land of Dunkin Donuts. Though, the first Dunkie’s that we saw in the airport was closed. Not that I needed a coffee at 10 pm. Time to dust off the Dunkie’s App. Time to make the donuts.

2017-05-16 21.32.14

Deep Dive #3

March 27, 2017

So I have finished curating the last batch of slides from Harold. The box contained 10 slide trays and each slide tray had up to 100 slides. Some were full some were less than full but never less than 75 slides. The slides were taken from as early as 1974 and as recent as 1980. Most were circa 1977 and 1978. Much of the pictures were of wilderness. There were two trays from a trip to Alaska in 1974.

There were pictures from Harold and Mary’s visit after our first son Mike was born in 1980.

Here are some samples of the better stuff. 

Mary Stanley, Paula and Joe


During the visit, I took Harold and Mary for a ride in my airplane. (I don’t know what caused the yellowing of the white areas of the slide.) I first got my private pilot’s license in 1974. By the time this picture was taken I had become IFR (Instrument) rated. Not long after this picture was taken the plane was sold and I stopped flying. Price of fuel was going up and I no longer had the time to spend flying. I once took my mother for a ride in the airplane. She was scared silly. (That wasn’t the word I wanted to use, but this is a family blog.) She couldn’t get on the ground soon enough.

New Dad with Baby Michael


This was the other reason that I stopped flying. In this picture, I think Mike was a couple of weeks old.

Harold in front of US Capitol


This is one of the rare pictures of my father-in-law Harold. Harold was always the one behind the camera. The trip to Washing ton was in 1977. In the load of about 1000 slides there are probably less than 10 pictures with Harold in the picture. We all miss Harold a lot. He was a great guy.

Mary K., Mimi-Mary, Uncle Jack, Aunt Donna (dec) and Maurice/James

This picture was taken in 1977 during one Harold & Mary’s many visits to New Orleans. Mary’s brother Jack lives outside of New Orleans. The family was together that day to tour some antebellum mansion. I don’t know how people could survive living during a summer in one of those mansions. So everyone was in the picture except for Harold.


This picture is the rear of our house at 90 Gray Street in Billerica, MA. We lived here from 1978-1984.

Mary and Paula circa 1978


We’re not quite sure of the provenance of this picture. Perhaps on the ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyeard or maybe a Boston Harbor cruise. I included it because it was a good picture of Paula and Mary.

That’s enough for now. I will be picking up another box to work on from the storage locker.

TTFN

Joe

Harold’s Slides – Deep Dive #2

March 17, 2017

I was back to scanning my father-in-law Harold’s slide collection. A few weeks ago I finally purchased a scanner for 35mm slides. The current batch is from 1977 and 1978. I can tell that because the slides got imprinted with the month and year that they were processed. There are boxes and boxes of slides tucked away in the store room down on Gaffey Street. I took one box that has 10 slide trays. Each slide tray has about 100 slides. Today I did about 200 slides. They cover a bunch of activities and events. There was a trip to Hawaii, a trip to Yosemite National Park (I think for a Park Service reunion). A wedding for someone named David. [Paula sez he was one of Harold’s students]. Still don’t know who the bride is. Nice looking couple but I don’t have a clue who they are.

So here goes:

Yosemite

Hawaii

Nice Sunsets:

Cornerstone Pictures LA Harbor Lodge

Looks like I’m going to be doing this for a while.

Hearst Castle

October 11, 2016

William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher born in 1863 and died in 1951. Mr Hearst built the nation’s largest newspaper chain. In 1919 he began work on what is now known as the Hearst Castle near San Simeon, CA on California’s central coast. The castle was designed from 1919 to 1947 by Julia Morgan of San Francisco. The castle was under construction right up until he died in 1951.

2016-10-07-12-07-39The estate covers 250,000 acres. The main house “Casa Grande'” sits on a hill at 1600′ in the Santa Lucia range and about 5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The castle is about 200 miles from San Francisco and 200 miles from Los Angeles. Mr Hearst has been quoted as saying:

I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.

The property is managed by the California State Parks and is open for public tours. Tours can be reserved on their website. When I was arranging our tour, I found out that they had “Accessible” tours for folks who might have difficulty with the many steps around the main mansion. I opted for this because of my difficulty climbing steep steps. Indeed, a customer service agent called me a few days after I made the reservation and asked whether I had any special needs (ie. wheel chair). I told him no wheel chair would be needed. What great service!

We rode in a golf cart up to a back entrance and Paula and I, plus two others had a pretty much private tour. One parks outside a visitor center and board a bus that takes you across many switchbacks as you climb to the castle. They had some chairs set aside for us along the tour if we get tired. Very thoughtful.

So back in the day, guests would take an overnight train either from LA or San Francisco to San Luis Obispo where Mr Hearst’s staff would pick them up at the train station and ride to the estate. Mr. Hearst also built an airstrip not far from the castle. Apparently, an invitation to the castle was very much in demand.2016-10-07-10-47-58

Among the many guests include the Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, James Stewart and Bob Hope.

Here’s a picture of the famous Neptune Pool. Unfortunately, the pool is under construction to retrofit the tiling. Click here to see a picture taken before the pool was drained for reconstruction.

Our tour started with the main kitchen. The kitchen was state of the art for the 1930’s. It had a real refrigerator. It kind of looks like an ice box, but you can tell by the compressor on top that it’s a refrigerator. Hearst had his own private power plant on his property. Here a few pictures of the kitchen.

After the kitchen comes the main dining room. Guests were expected to attend the formal dinner in the evening.  Mr Hearst would sit at the middle of the table. He would sit people that he thought would be interesting to him close to him. If Mr Hearst found a guest to be not interesting, they would be shifted down to the end of the table.

The size of the rooms were designed to allow the art works to fit. In the dining room, there were tapestries on both walls.

After dinner, films were shown in the movie theater. The guests had to wait for an hour (often grumbling about waiting). The delay was to allow the kitchen and wait staff to finish their work and join Mr Hearst in the theater.

What mansion would be without a room for games. There a billiards room and card table rooms.

 

Statues? They’ve got statues. Too many to show. Here are a few.

Finally, the tour ends at the indoor pool. The water is so calm, that you almost don’t see it. The reflection is incredible. There are two tennis courts on the roof of the indoor pool.

That’s about it. Exit through the gift shop. All of the pictures were taken with my iPhone 6 plus.

 

 

 

Morro Bay

October 9, 2016

So a couple of months ago, I asked Paula what she wanted to do for her birthday and our wedding anniversary. She suggested that we do a two day road trip somewhere in California. So we decided to drive up the CA coast to Morro Bay. Morro Bay is about 200 miles from LA. It is a small sea side community. So our plan was to drive up to Morro Bay on Thursday on rte. 101. It takes about 5 hours including an hour for lunch.

2016-10-09-14-55-23So for us to get away for three days means that we need to get care givers arranged for Mary. At this stage of her life, we can’t leave her alone. So we sent an email to carenetLA.com to arrange.

On the ride north, we stopped at town called “Buellton” for lunch. We ate at a restaurant called “Pea Soup Andersen’s” which was apparently famous for its pea soup. So we decided, what the hell, we’d give it a try. The waiter told us that we could have free refills on the soup. Apparently the record is 17 bowls of soup. My word, that’s a lot of soup. We politely declined and had just one bowl each. Very tasty. Though, truth be told, the pea soup that I make is better.

Rte 101 tends to hug the coastline through Santa Barbara and Ventura. The route turns inland after Santa Barbara to avoid Vandenberg AFB. (We went there last year for Mike’s promotion ceremony.) Then back to coast through Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande’. Lots of surfing along this area.

So we decided to stay at the “Ascot Inn at the Rock“. A nice little hotel with a great view of the harbor. Included free breakfast and free WiFi. Breakfast was decent. Scrambled eggs and sausages, toast or cold cereal. Our plan was to have a nice dinner out, then on Friday go up to tour the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. We ate at a place called “Dorn’s Breaker Cafe“.

Needless to say there are sea food restaurants here. We found a nice place within walking distance. Paula had broiled haddock and I had saute’d scallops. I had a tasty martini before dinner and a glass of sauvignon blanc during dinner.

They had a roof top deck set up for evening get togethers. I took a couple of pictures. The sea gull was seemed to be very used to people. I think he was expecting to be fed. There is a huge rock formation out in the harbor. Quite distinctive.

Paula suggested we take a couple of pics of the room. Decor was a pleasant rose color.

Take a look at the links that I added. Most of them have better pictures than I could have taken. Now on to San Simeon.

Trip Report

May 23, 2016

Whenever I travelled on business, I had to write a trip report. I’m sitting in the departure lounge for Delta Airlines. Had lunch at Legal Sea Food. We both had a cup of clam chowder. So good. Had Sam Adams Summer Ale. Also, good. 

We visited our old friend Candee up the street from where we used to live. Drove by our old house  to see what they had done. Added a fence. Lawn needs mowing and weeding. Dogwood and Japanese maple in full bloom. 


We filled the tank on the rental car and headed for Logan. Turned in the car and got to terminal. Through security. Now time to wait. I’ll get one last DD coffee. 

Later,