Posted tagged ‘travel’

Travels with Mary

September 11, 2015

We had planned for a long time to take Mary on a road trip up to Vandenberg AFB in Lompac, CA. It was with fear and trepidation that we undertook the trip. One of the trips last year she managed to trip and break her hip. The reason we were going was for our son Mike’s promotion to major in the USAF Reserve. 

We kept telling her what we were doing and when and how but not much was sticking. Paula asked her on Thursday AM if she needed anything laundered. No she said, but at 9pm she asked to have her PJ’s washed. That ship had sailed. Her short term memory is shot, so she likely won’t remember what we told her yesterday.

So on Friday we get her loaded to go to Rose to get her hair done. Paula got her back home by about noon. Moved Mary from the Prius to the Jeep and Paula came up to finish packing. So we were all loaded and on the road by about 12:30.

We drove for about three hours and stopped for lunch in the small town of   Fillmore, CA (go ahead and Google it) Mexican restaurant by the name of El Pescadero (the fisherman) I had some tasty fish tacos. 

We still had another 3 hours of driving to go. Stuck in rush hour traffic in Santa Barbara. There is some of the most beautiful scenery on earth on the drive on rte 101 up the California coast. So Mary asks, “Are we still in California?” Then we get on the road to Lompoc, which is one ugly stretch of road. Nothing but dirt.

Mary’s all tucked in. No falls, no trips to the ER. We’re good. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll have pictures tomorrow.



Trip Report

May 21, 2015

Back in the day when I would travel on business, I would be required to write a trip report. So continuing in that vein, here is my report from out trip to Boston.

First thing that I noticed was how green everything was. We get used to the drought of LA. Not only did I see the green with my eyes, I saw it with my nose. Not long after we had landed I started sniffling and sneezing from the tree pollen. We saw a coating of green on our car. Car rental was on Budget, which is the same as Avis. No problems with the rental. Filled with gas before we headed to Logan

Rental car was a KIA Sportage. Rental cars are a great way to try out cars before you buy. I won’t be buying a KIA anytime soon. Killed myself trying to get into the damn thing. I can safely cross that off my list, even though it really wasn’t on it to begin with.

Paula and I arrived last Wednesday at 0615 on the Red-eye from LAX. The last couple of years we have had to do the redeye because Paula had things she had to do on Tuesday and I had to be in Boston on Wednesday. So that meant taking the redeye. We’ve found that we can fly first class for not much more than flying coach. When one flys coach the airlines these days keep nickel and diming you such that for a little bit more you can fly first class and have bigger seats and be treated like human beings.

So we met up with the OES Hall Committee at the Cracker Barrel in Tewksbury for Breakfast. Once that was done we headed over to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium to start setting up. Once that was done, we headed up to the Wyndham in Andover to wait for our room to be ready. We got to our room by about 1230 which was pretty good considering that we might have had to wait until 1500. We got a few hours sleep and then got up for our first banquet.

On Thursday went to visit with our friend Candee in Billerica, then headed back up to Lowell for opening session of OES Grand Chapter. Drove by our house on Dyer Street. The front lawn still looks shitty. I guess the new owners haven’t gotten around to re-seeding the lawn.

Finished Grand Chapter on Sunday. Then went to visit our friends at First Congregational Church of Billerica. Then we headed down to Hingham to visit with my brother and his wife in Hingham. Had a lovely dinner with Rich and Mary, then back to Andover.

On Monday, we headed up to Nashua to visit with some friends from Chelmsford Pediatrics. Saw our friend Kathy and her daughter Audrey. Checked out of the Wyndham and headed to Boston. We decided to stay at the Airport Hilton on Monday night before our early flight on Tuesday. Dropped off out luggage then :I took the car back to the rental place. The Hilton shuttle picked me up right quick.

The Hilton was not cheap, but worth it seeing as our flight left BOS at 0800 on Tuesday. We had a fine dinner. I had a cup of Clam Chowder and a Lobster roll. I won’t be having any lobster for quite a while.

Got up at 0500. Showered and dressed and out the door at 0615, Checked in and through security in plenty of time. Didn’t have to take off my shoes or take my laptop out of the bag. TSA seems to be getting better at doing the security screen.

Outbound flight was on American Airlines which was okay. Return flight was on Delta. Major problem was Terminal 5 at LAX is still under construction. The place is a mess. Bathrooms are crowded and messy. Avoid Terminal 5 at all costs for the next year or three. LAX arrival seems to be always a zoo. We have to look at doing the trip from Long Beach next time.

Arrived in LA pretty much on time. We had to hire a limo service to take us back to San Pedro. Worked out okay but cost us a lot more than it would have if Theresa or Mike could have picked us up. Theresa would be free. Limo about $100.

Time to unpack and do laundry. Picked up BBQ chicken, potato salad and cole slaw from Haggens (nee Albertson’s) for dinner.

All done. Time to sleep.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

February 20, 2015
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Entrance to the library/museum

Yesterday, Paula and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. The trip was organized by San Pedro Assistance League. We had a bus full of people make the hour and a half trip. This is my report. Simi Valley is located about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

I am no particular fan of Ronald Reagan. There are those that would have him considered for sainthood. Not me. That being said, I still found the museum interesting. The museum covers the high points. You won’t see much about Iran Contra for example.

Our group of 40 something seniors were divided up into four groups and each group was assigned to our individual docent. I had trouble at times hearing partly because she couldn’t seem to speak loud enough and partly due to background noise.

There is also an app you can down either for iOS or Android. The app is sort of a self guided tour. Unfortunately, it is not free. ($2,99 I think).

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Bust of Ronald Reagan

There are plenty of statues of the former president. Here is one of them. There were many more. The library tried to cover the high points of the presidency.

There is a section on the white house along with a replica of the oval office as it was during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

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The “HMS Resolute” Desk

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Fireplace with portrait of George Washington.



There is an entire section dedicated to presidential travel. There is are many limousines. Some of the limousines belonged to other heads of state including Saddam Hussein, FDR, Eisenhower, Eva Peron to name a few. I’m not sure why all of the limos are there. There is an Air Force One and a Marine One helicopter. We were allowed to enter both aircraft but not allowed to take pictures. The Air Force One of Reagan’s time was a modified C130 (military version of the Boeing 707). It was pretty cramped inside. It’s no wonder that current Air Force One’s are based on Boeing 747’s. N27000 was in service until 2001 when it was replaced by the Boeing 747.

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Marine One

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Air Force One

Here are some of the pictures of the limo’s.

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Eva Peron’s Ride

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FDR’s Limo

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Presidential Limo (License Plate “GIPPER”)

There was a big section on the Berlin wall and the diplomacy initiatives with the Soviet Union. Lots of pictures of Gorbachev and other world leaders of the era. There were some artifacts of the wall as well as replicas.

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Wall segment as seen from the east.


There are also sections covering First Lady Nancy Reagan along with some of her gowns. There is a section covering the assassination attempt in 1981. Our final stop for the day was the Reagan Library Cafe. They had some excellent split pea soup. Paula and I also split a piece of chocolate torte. Very tasty. That’s enough for now. If you want more you can Google Ronald Reagan Library. There is tons of stuff available online.

Cell Phone Lots

June 24, 2014

So you might say, what the hell is a cell phone lot. Perhaps, you have seen a sign for one at the airport. A cell phone lot is a place where you can park for free and wait for someone who is arriving at an airport. They appeared on the scene about 5 years ago.
 The concept is simple. You go to the cell phone lot. Sit in your car and wait for the arrival. You tell the person who is arriving to call or text you when they have their luggage and are at the curb, ready to be picked up. Then when you get the call you head out to the terminal and swoop in and load up your arrival and off you go.
 This means you don’t have to pay to park and wander around the arrival area looking for your arrival. Hopefully, you do one orbit around the terminal area.
 So most airports have cell phone lots. I know for certain there is one at LAX and one at BOS. The one at LAX is across from “Parking Lot C”. While driving north on Sepulveda, stay in the center lane. Follow signs for Parking Lot C. Go past the exit for the terminal then turn right at 98th St. Cell phone lot will be on your left. By this time, you will probably see signs for the Cell Phone Lot. When leaving for the terminal, turn left out of the lot then immediate left turn up the ramp takes you to the terminal. Here’s the map.

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June 23, 2014

Now I remember why I would rather drive to Salt Lake City. LAX. Daughter in law Theresa drove us to LAX this morning. All went well until we got to the terminals. Creep and beep, stall and crawl, four lanes of traffic doing about 2 mph.
 We finally got to terminal 5 for Delta airlines. Got my bag checked. So far so good. Got through security with no problems. I bought an over priced bottle of water for $2.50. Then we headed for the bathrooms. Men’s room was dirty with paper on the floor, one of three urinals stopped up and over flowing. Paula reported that women’s just as bad and worse. Three stalls and line out the door. Paper and sanitary napkins on the floor. What a dump.
 Terminal 5 is under construction but still that’s no excuse.
 So next we look for some food. All we want is a muffin and cup of coffee. Went to place called Farmer’s Market. No muffins, no scones, yes coffee, but no ice coffee. $13 for two coffees and brownie and pastry. Other restaurants also way over priced. I would be happy with Mickey D’s or BK, not some upscale eatery with high prices and slow service.
 They had a display for doggie treats. Paula wanted to get a treat for Beast. Overpriced and under serviced. Had to wait for an eternity to take her money.
 Here’s the picture of the doggie stuff. Not worth the wait. Beast ate it but seemed to not care very much.

So finally announced boarding. We had booked first class (I’ll explain that in later post.). So we got on board and the stew brought me a gin and tonic right away. Feeling better already.
 So now we are starting descent into SLC after having been properly medicated. Once on the ground, we need to pick up a rent a wreck ( actually the car is pretty nice, new Ford Edge) and off to West Jordan.
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Location:West Jordan,United States


June 8, 2014

Today is Sunday. It’s been a long week. We’re staying at a Double Tree in Las Vegas. Nice place to stay. No casino. I despise casinos. Too noisy. We’ve stayed here several times. Getting to know the staff, especially the bartender. We leave this morning headed home to LA. I get to blog while Ms Paula is in the shower.
 So Mary is doing better. Paula talked to her on the phone yesterday while we were driving south on I15. She seemed to be coherent. They got her out of bed and into the bathroom to toilet. Removed the Foley catheter. That’s probably a requirement to be moved to rehab.
 We talked to the Nurse Practitioner. She said her blood counts were a little low. Probably give her a few units of blood. I swear Mary has nine lives. There have been many folks (East coast and West) praying for her. Thank you all for the prayers.
 The news form New Orleans is still not good. Paula’s Aunt Donna is near death. She is suffering end stage colon cancer. Not expected to survive the week.
 Did I tell you that it is hot here in the desert? The thermometer in the car read 104 when we arrived yesterday afternoon. Peaked out at 109 driving through the desert north of Las Vegas. We have a room overlooking the pool. No one using it. Too hot.

 We will arrive home this afternoon. Today’s drive is about 300 miles. We filled up our tank in St George yesterday. Once we get into CA the price of gas skyrockets from $3.50 a gallong to about $4.50 a gallon. We’ll probably stop in Barstow at one of the few Dunkin Donuts in CA.
 Paula probably will be flying back to SLC on Wednesday. Gives us time to do laundry. Catch up on mail. Get our Rx’s filled, etc. Dinner with Mike, Theresa and Jonathan on Tuesday.
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One Long Bad Day

June 5, 2014

Yesterday, was one long damn day. We drove 435 miles and arrived in West Jordan Utah. Downhill from there.
 We checked into our hotel and unloaded all of our luggage. Then we went over to Neil’s house. We had a while to wait. Dawn was at the airport picking up her parents. Mary was having her usual glass of White Zin wine. She got up to go to the bathroom.
 The bathroom is a small half bath. After she stood up she was trying to straighten up the rug that was somewhat askew. Well she took a fall. We got her up and sat her in a chair with wheels and tried to assess the situation.
 She was in a lot of pain, so we called the EMT’s. She was transported to a local ER, where they did X-rays and gave her pain meds. The diagnosis was a fractured left hip.
 So then we waited. The orthopedic surgeon was called. ER decided to admit her and ortho would talk with us this morning. Probably surgery sometime this afternoon or evening.
 Mary is conscious (never lost consciousness) but very groggy from the pain meds. So we have many questions for the surgeon and hospital. Clearly Mary won’t be able to travel any time soon. We need to figure out how long we will stay up here in Utah. We both only packed meds for a week.
 As always prayers are welcome. We will be busy this morning calling her family in Texas and Louisiana. Last night I was busy texting family.
 We finally got back to our hotel at 1:30am and to bed.
 Update later.
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Location:W Center Park Dr,West Jordan,United States

Las Vegas

November 27, 2013

We just got back from a quick trip to Las Vegas. Our son and his wife had invited us a few weeks ago to join them for a quick trip to Las Vegas. Hotel rooms are a commodity that obeys laws of supply and demand. When the supply goes up the price goes down. So we found a relative bargain for Sunday to Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

So we booked a room for about $125 per night at a hotel that normally runs for $250 per night. We were in a large room at the Hotel Vdara with a king size bed, kitchenette, a view of the Las Vegas strip.

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Here’s the view from our room on the 26th floor. One of the things that is unusual about the Hotel Vdara is that it doesn’t have a casino. Casinos are not far away though. Short walk to the Belagio or a little bit longer to Caesar’s Palace.

On Monday, we decided to take a ride out to see the Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, a lot of people had the same idea. Weather was sunny and clear. Visibility greater than 100 miles. We couldn’t find a place to park. We got a few pictures though from a couple of scenic pullouts.

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We are not much into gambling but there is lots to do. There are so many good places to eat. We ate at the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Casino on Sunday night. just about anything you might want to try. Asian, Italian, American, seafood, you name it, they have it.

Monday we dined at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace. We had reservations for 8:30 PM for the four of us plus Jonathan our 2 year old grandson. Not cheap, but everything was outstanding. I had a Sea Scallop dish and Paula had Rabbit. (I know, the poor bunny rabbit) Good service and excellent food. Jonathan was oh so well behaved. He had some apple juice, but what he really wanted was the ice to chew on. Here are some pictures.

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After dinner, we all walked back to the Vdara by way of the Belagio. Half of the fun is watching the people and the art that is on display. The Belagio still has their fall displays up. I am sure that will change quickly starting next week. First here is the entrance to Caesar’s then the displays at the Belagio.

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And finally for you chocolate lovers out there, here is the chocolate fountain at the Belagio Patisserie.

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And one more thing, we have discovered there is now a Dunkin Donuts in Barstow (for our East Coast friends, Barstow is out in the middle of the Mojave desert, about 125 miles east of LA. For a while, the only Dunkie’s was at Camp Pendleton on the way down to San Diego. Slowly but surely, Dunking Donuts will come to the west coast. There is help.

Dunkies Barstow


BTW, all pictures were taken with my trusty iPhone 5S.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Don’t overeat or over drink. We will be joining our daughter-in-laws extended family in Rancho Palos Verdes. Lots of family, lots of kids. Paula will be baking pies tomorrow. We have some good wines to taste. After Thanksgiving, I have to continue work on the 15th edition of my Christmas letter. We will not be doing black Friday. You couldn’t get me to the mall on black Friday, let alone any Friday.

Be good,






Las Vegas NV

October 5, 2013

Today is the last day of our trip. Yesterday we travelled from West Jordan UT to Las Vegas NV. we had a short visit with Neil and his family. So now we are heading home to LA. SLC to LA is about 750 miles give or take and is a bit too long to make in one jump.

Las Vegas is a natural spot to stop for the night. This is the third time that we have made the trip from SLC to LA. We have been searching for a good place to bed down for the night. We didn’t want to go to downtown Las Vegas. I despise staying at casino-hotels. All I want is a QUIET hotel where we can rest overnight.

Last time we stayed at a hotel in Primm NV which is at the CA NV border. There are three worn aging casinos resorts there. Last time we had reserved two rooms for Paula, myself and my mother in law. Reservation screwed up they only had one room for us. I am NOT sleeping with my mother in law. The time before that we stopped at Jean NV. Similar aging casino hotel.

So we thought we might be forced to either stay up in St George UT or continue on down the road to Victorville CA. Nothing in between but desert, sage brush and coyotes. St George to LV is about 150 miles. LV to Victorville about the same. So we’re stuck with Las Vegas. St George was too soon to stop and Victorville too far.

So back to the travel hotel web sites. Lo and behold we found a Double Tree by Hilton near the LV airport. It has no casino, reasonable price (about $100). It has a bar and restaurant. It is quiet. I can hear some aircraft noise but it is not outrageously loud. I made the reservation through the Hilton Honors iPhone App.

They put us on the 5th floor. Top two floors are the Hilton Honors floors. When we checked in they gave us two warm chocolate chip cookies. This was so much better than Primm or Jean. We were also told that happy hour was in progress. Woo-Hoo!!!

So we came down to the hotel bar and had a few drinks and watched the end of the LA Dodgers Atlanta Braves game. We missed the Red Sox thumping of the Rays. We had a few drinks (Gin and Tonic for Ms. Paula, Martini for me), then light dinner and back to our room. We watched Bill Maher’s show on HBO. We give the Double Tree 5 stars. We’ll definitely stay here on our next trip to SLC.

One idea that Hilton has started is recycling in the hotel rooms. They have trash cans that have two inserts. One for regular trash and one for plastics. Clever idea. Here’s a picture.

So thats it for Las Vegas. Today, once we finish breakfast we are off for LA. We’ll probably stop in Mojave rest stop (right after the CA NV state line.) This time the colors are alive in the desert. The sage brush seems to be pollinating. Lots of yellows and orange. The mountains are alive with color. Here is a picture I took last Saturday in CA. imagine what a whole hillside would look like with flowering sage brush.

No place to safely stop along yesterday’s route to take a picture. So back to LA. We will have about couple of weeks home before we head back north to Fresno CA for CA Grand Chapter OES.


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Location:Pollock Dr,Paradise,United States

Trip to Reno

September 29, 2013

We are on another road trip to attend NV OES Grand Chapter in Reno. We left San Pedro at about 0900 on Saturday. There are three main north south routes from LA to Northern California.

The quickest by far is I5 that starts in San Diego and continues through LA and then up through California’s Central Valley. There are huge farms that produce much of the vegetables that everyone consumes in the USA. Without stopping, we could potentially make it from San Pedro to Reno in a little over 8 hours. However, the ride is oh so very boring.

The second route is up US99 a bit east of I5. A little bit longer and just as boring. One goes through the major farming towns of Bakersfield, Fresno, and Stockton. Eventually you reach Sacramento and then head east on I80 to Reno.

The most visually interesting trip is on US395 that runs between the Sierras on your left and the CAL-NV border on your right. Lots of mountains, lakes and streams.

That was what we had intended to take. Best case should take 9 hours without factoring bathroom stops, gas stops, etc. But i screwed up in loading the GPS and we headed up I5. By the time we figured out my mistake, we were almost to Bakersfield. So we headed east to pick up US395.

Not so simple though. We ended up on SR14 that took us on a twisty windy road through Kern County and the Kern river canyon. We stopped at a place called Walker Pass to stretch and take a couple of pictures. This is some of the most desolate parts of California. It was also super clear on Saturday. The blue sky in those pictures was not photo-shopped.

So we eventually got on to US395 and continued our journey north. We were way behind schedule. Driving this road when dark is very challenging. Paula had me stop for a few seconds so that she could smell the ponderosa pines. She said she could actually see stars. You don’t see many stars (the astronomy kind) in LA. Of course I didn’t see stars, I was trying to see which way the road was going.

We eventually arrived in Reno at about 10PM. We got checked in and luggage up to our room. We had a gin and tonic and went to bed.

Next post will be about our experience at the Peppermill Resort and Casino.


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Location:S Virginia St,Reno,United States