Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

Day’s Inn by Wyndham – Novato, CA

August 21, 2018

On sunday, we got back from our trip up north for the Grand Ruth reception. We stayed in a “Day’s Inn by Wyndham” in Novato, CA. Novato, CA is north of San Francisco. Here are my thoughts on the hotel. I think that this place was bought by Wyndham and that by adding the “Wyndham” tag to the name one would think you were getting a nicer hotel. Day’s Inn is still a dump with or without the “By Wyndham” tag.

This is a fairly old facility. Probably built in the 1980’s. The building has two levels, street level and a second level up a flight of stairs. No rooms available on the street level  so we had to schlep all of our stuff up the stairs. Of course, there was no elevator(s). I need to be sure of the location of the rooms and whether or not they have an elevator. Perhaps, it might work if I were to ask for HP accessible. We could have had a first floor room but that room didn’t have a fridge/microwave. We felt fridge/microwave was more important.

 

Room was quite small. Two straight back chairs, no comfy chair. Bathroom was very small with hardly any shelf space to put our personal kits (cosmetics and shave).

Bed was okay. I’ve slept on better.

Room had a nice view. Deer came down from the hills to graze at dusk.

2018-08-17 19.21.04

They had breakfast served but we didn’t take advantage. We brought our own snacks and cooler with milk and drinks.

The room had free WiFi but very slow. Only 2 Mbps download speed. If you want faster, it’ll cost you $10 /day.

Next time, I need to be more careful when booking a motel room.

So here is my checklist:

  1. HP accessible?
  2. Adequate WiFi speeds and free.
  3. Elevator if room is above 1st floor.
  4. Check YELP reviews.
  5. Restaurant(s) within walking distance?
  6. Review with Paula.

Ramona

August 5, 2018

So today we were about to start for home from our visit to Escondido, CA for the Grand Organist Reception last night. So we wanted to do something more than just head back up the freeway to LA. We decided to take a side trip up to the small town of Ramona, CA up in the NE corner of San Diego County.

So our friend Roberta suggested we head up to Ramona. This is a small town up in the middle of nowhere. We had a nice scenic drive. By this time of year, most everything is brown. So we got there in fine time. Stopped for gas and Paula went for a walk. She found a Masonic Lodge, then we drove around and we found a second lodge. Two lodges in town. I’m impressed.

 

 

So here’s some info on Ramona. Seems to have many businesses. There was a Dunkin Donuts!. Don’t even have one in San Pedro. Also had a Starbucks, Albertsons and gas stations. I filled up the Nissan. Seems like the mileage is running about 30 mpg.

So I said to Paula, “I think there was a song written about “Ramona”. So I did a search on YouTube and found a couple of ditties from back in the day. Here are the links.

First is a song by Bob Dylan named “Ramona

Next was a song by David Whitfield also called “Ramona“. Released in 1961.

And finally, “Ramona” by Louis Armstrong.

Delta Airlines

May 18, 2018

2018-05-15 13.39.06Well, we managed to make it from LA to Boston all in one piece. No lost luggage, no accidents. This year we did the trip on Delta Airlines again. Big mistake.

At LAX Delta uses Terminal 2 and 3. Our flight was leaving from Terminal 3. But terminal 3 is under and one must go to terminal 2 if you had luggage to check.

We had luggage to check. So we got off the bus at terminal 2, went through security and took another shuttle to terminal 3. So bottom line, if you are flying Delta out of LAX,  use a different air line.

So we were at the gate in plenty of time and were waiting with a crowd of 200 people anxious to board.

We boarded and were wheels up pretty much on time. This was the first leg that stopped in Detroit. The distance between the arrival gate and the departing gate to BOS was not as bad as last year.

Arrived on time in BOS in terminal A. It was a very long walk to get to baggage claim. So we got our bags and headed for the rental car shuttle. Maybe I should have requested a chair.

Got to the rental car desk. I had reserved a Ford Escape with Avis. They never seem to be able to give me what I asked for. Instead, we got a Dodge Challenger. Forty years ago this would have a fun car for me. Right now I could care less. Got the car and hit the road. We arrived at the hotel at about midnight. It was a long day.

Air travel is getting to be a real pain. The stress level is way too high. Maybe when we have more time we might try taking the train. Paula’s Dad used to do that. Her mom was mad at him because she couldn’t get a hold of him. (ie. before cell phones)

At any rate it is good to be away. We fly home on Monday on the non-stop.

TTFN

Joe

 

 

 

It’s Flying Time Again…

May 14, 2018

It’s time for our annual trip to Boston for MA Grand Chapter OES.

I did a few last minute errands this morning. Picked up shirts at the cleaners. Picked up Rx for Mary and went to the USPO to hold the mail.

So the main USPO in San Pedro is this beautiful old Art Deco building. So I took a picture of the lobby. It’s worth a look.

All of my computer gear is packed. My function at GC is to do the recording of the session. To do this I have an interface that patches into the sound system and connects to my laptop via USB interface.

Of course, I am bringing iPad, iPhone x2, iPad mini (for Paula). Plus all of the applicable chargers and cables.

I checked in at noon with Delta. Boarding passes loaded on phones. Got note from Delta that I have to check bags at LAX Term 2, then off to Term 3 due to construction. What a PITA.

I would have liked to do non stop both ways, but to do that on LAX-BOS would mean flight leaves to 0800. To early for us, so flight leaves at noon and change planes in Detroit. Arrive in BOS at about 10 pm EDT. We will be at our hotel by about midnight give or take.

So we expect to see many friends and relatives. Fly back on next Monday.

TTFN,

Joe

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.

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