Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Hubby on the Road: Coming Home

January 15, 2012

The Hubby made it home safely on Saturday! His road trip from Connecticut to Minneapolis was a little more snowy than the ride out.

I stopped at this rest stop in Ohio twice. The shot on your left is on the way out, the shot on the right is on the way back home.

Nightly sight at rest stops and diesel gas stations.

 

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Hubby on the Road: At Work

January 12, 2012

The Hubby wrapped up his job in Connecticut yesterday, and he should be starting back home today unless the site calls for a last-minute look at anything. While he was on-site he wasn’t able to take photos of the really cool, confidential-type stuff that he was working with, but he did manage to take a few shots outside of the camera-restricted areas. Here are the Hubby’s photos from work:

Caution: I may drop something on you.

Outside eyewash and safety shower in case I spill bad stuff on myself.

Connecticut license plate – it’s the little things are different.

Hubby On The Road

January 10, 2012

The Hubby is an environmental testing technologist. His company tests air, water and soil for contaminants and composition. He is in the air division, which means he spends a lot of time outdoors climbing those huge stacks that you see rising up from large plants and factories, or working on hot tar roofs, or sitting in company vehicles waiting for data collection. He uses a number of cool instruments to do analyses like GC/mass spec (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) and FTIR (Fourier transform spectroscopy), which are ways of separating samples into their various components and identifying those components.

Every once in a while out-of-the area companies will contract the Hubby’s company to do air testing for them. In these cases one or more of the technologists in the Hubby’s group will have to fly or drive out to location. The Hubby has recently been sent out to Connecticut, and he’s driving because there is a trailer full of equipment that needs to go along. Connecticut – how fun! I wish I could have tagged along for the drive, but it’s pretty busy at work, so that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I asked the Hubby to take photos along his drive and send them back to me so I could share the road trip.

These are from the Hubby’s road trip to Connecticut. I hope to have new photos every day or two.

Sunday:

Driving Through Chicago – Sears Tower spotting!

The Hubby with his rig at dusk in Indiana

Monday:

A farm in Pennsylvania. The Hubby also hit New York and Connecticut today.

Mid-Vacation Status Report

August 31, 2011

Okay, Pacific Northwest leg of the trip is done! I spent a wonderful six and a half days with my sister and her husband traipsing around Seattle, Northwest Washington and Vancouver. Today she drove us back down to the airport, and we arrived with three hours until boarding. I like that; there’s enough time to have a whiskey and play online without any stress about being stuck in security or having to run across the airport to make my flight.

So here I sit at the lovely Seattle Taproom in the A concourse of SEATAC airport. A nice waiter named Chris kindly offered to supersize my whiskey for a mere $3. And people say that chivalry is dead!

The Hubby and I splurged on first-class on the way out, but we’ve both decided to not indulge on the way back. It’s nice, but not $220 nice. However, if they do one of those “we over-booked the planes so we’re now offering cover-our-ass $50 upgrades”, I don’t think we’ll be strong enough to resist. 

We should arrive in Minneapolis at 10:30pm. Our super nice friend B is picking us up, and then I’ll spend about an hour or so freaking out about my Dragon*Con packing! Hopefully I’ll be able to get about three hours of sleep before we pick up my two friends M and E and head to the airport for our 5:25am flight to Atlanta, Georgia.

Whee! Whirlwind travel! What with the excitement over attending my first Dragon*Con and the sleep deprivation, the next 24 hours should be interesting.

Pacific Northwest: Day 2

August 28, 2011

My sis and brother-in-law are keeping us crazy busy! So even though this is our fourth day of vacation, I’m only caught up on blogging through the second day of the trip. Which is alright because it’s vacation, and that means there are no deadlines, right? Right.

Day 2 took us to the wild and foreign lands of…duhn duhn dunh…Canada! We had a minor scare as we approached the Peace Arch border crossing between Blaine, WA and Surrey, British Columbia. The scare came in the form of my sister shouting “SHIT! I LEFT MY WALLET AT HOME!” It would have been okay since Bellingham was only 20 minutes behind us, but we had already entered the border crossing lines going into Canada and to turn around meant getting into the HUGE line of Canadians waiting to cross into the US. All was well though, when she exclaimed “WAIT! CHECK THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT!” And there was our golden ticket, the wallet with her enhanced driver’s license and our pass into and out of Canada. Phew. On to the next adventure.

The mountains in this corner of the country are incredible. I’ve seen some of the Appalachian mountains. When we were in Boise we drove up into some cool mountains. Down in Tuscon we visted Mount Lemmon. And on last summer’s road trip from Arizona to Minneapolis Mom and I drove through part of the Rockies. But the mountains up here are freaking mind-blowing, snow-capped, intraversable bohemoths. They inspire an urge to run to REI, buy a Mountaineering for Dummies book, blow a life savings on survival equipment and start marching up the side of Mount Baker.

Mount Baker as seen from the I-5 Slater Road exit in northern Washington.

In Vancouver we visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a park consisting of treetop canopy bridges, a bridge built into the face of one of the cliffs, several trails and the namesake 446′ suspension bridge over the Capilano River. It was great – like a jungle gym for big kids. The trees were enormous, and there were ferns everywhere. We all agreed that we’d pay extra if they’d have an Ewok Night at Capilano.

After the bridge walks we drove back toward downtown Vancouver. We lunched at an independent cafe attached to the Inn Cogneato (yes, really) which served amazing middle eastern food, and then drove over another suspension bridge – this one slightly more modern and sturdy than the Capilano – called the Lions Gate. We stopped at Stanley Park to take some pictures of the bridge and Burrard Inlet, the body of water that the Lions Gate crosses.

Finally we entered downtown Vancouver proper. We stopped to walk down Davie Street, the commercial area of Vancouver’s gay neighborhood. It was a neighborhood. There were a lot of rainbow flags. It was quite the happening place – tons of stores, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

A view down Davie Street

The ride home was uneventful, but the line to get across the border was reaaallllly long. We had to cut the car engine, and the Hubby actually got out of the car and walked around in the grass while we waited. Sis took pictures.

The Peace Arch as seen from the Canadian side of the board.

But we eventually made it home and cooked a lovely meal on the grill – salmon, scallops, asparagus and fresh sweet corn. Yum! The night ended with us being wiped out and brain dead in front of the TV. Good day.

Pacific Northwest: Day 1

August 26, 2011

The last couple of days have been odd because I’ve only had about three hours of sleep on Tuesday and Wednesday night. See, I had to finish my Dragon*Con costume and then pack up for two separate vacations. Best problems EVER.

So I went to bed around 12:30am this morning and work up to the first of four separate alarm clocks that we had set for 3:30am, 3:33am, 3:35am and 3:40am. They were situated all over the room too, just in case we accidentally pressed snooze on the nearby clocks. Because we really, really didn’t want to miss our flight. We managed to roll out of bed, throw on our pre-set out clothes for the day, grab our suitcases and stumble out the door on schedule. I actually had some twitter company during these awful early hours because several of my friends were heading out to PAX, a gaming convention which coincidentally is also in Seattle this weekend. Yeah, we saw a Yoda backpack on our flight.

We bought the first-class upgrade from Sun Country. It was an awesome guilty indulgence. We had quiche for breakfast with a side of bacon and fresh mixed berries. Coach got pre-packaged breakfast sammiches. Mwah ha ha! The Hubby slept through the entire thing, but I like being awake during flights, especially if I have a window seat (and first class). I managed to get some kick-ass photos of clouds, mountains and cities from the air. Because we headed to the west coast we had a two-hour time change during our flight. It’s pretty neat to leave from one city, fly for four hours and arrive in a new city two hours later.

After we arrived at SeaTac (SEAttle-TAComa airport), we found the Link light rail into downtown Seattle. Tickets only cost $2.25/person, as opposed to an online estimate of ~$20 for a cab ride into the city. My sister, Erin, had meanwhile been driving two hours down from Bellingham, WA to meet us. We found each other in a park outside of the Pike Place Market, home of Seattle’s famous Public Market and the Pike Place Fish Company. Then all three of us walked over to the Space Needle; it was the one tourist thing (other than Pike Place) that The Hubby and I wanted to do during our limited time in the city. 

After that we took a beautiful drive up to Bellingham, including a suprise discovery of a sandy beach called Golden Gardens. On the way home we drove the scenic Chuckanut Drive, which goes up a mountain and overlooks the Salish Sea. It was a spectacular view. We made it home and met up with my sister’s husband, Ralph, and went for a quick dinner at a nearby Chinese buffet. We chatted a little and managed to make plans for Friday, but Aaron and I were fading fast. We came home, made a half-hearted attempt at watching a movie, and then Erin and Ralph set up the inflatable bed while I typed this blog post and pulled the day’s photos off of the SD card.

I am beat. But here’s a few photos – you gotta see these:

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Wisconsin Weekend and Photo Contest

August 18, 2011

A friend of mine invited me and the Hubby to spend this past weekend in Wisconsin with her and her family. They have a GORGEOUS  house on a quiet lake in the Northeast corner of the state. We went tubing, jet skiing, boat cruising around the lake and flying through the woods on an ATV. We played board games, had tasty adult drinks and ate incredible meals prepared by her mom (her mom bought all sorts of gluten-free goodies just for me, including brownies, spice cake and ciabatta rolls!). We packed a lot in over 30 hours. Oh, and we saw a frickin’ black bear as we were driving home!

Tubing on Crane Lake
Me tubing!

Photo Contest

I could use your help. I’m submitting three photos to a gallery at work (just a showing, not a contest) at one of our upcoming site-wide celebrations. I’ve picked out my top thirty favorite photos and placed them in a flickr set. If you have the time and the inclination, I’d love to have your help in narrowing it down to the three winners. Here’s how you can pipe up:

Oh, and did I mention that there is a contest associated with this? I love contests. If you vote you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a set of prints of your three favorite photos, even if they aren’t the three that I use for the gallery showing. I’ll chat printing options (size, finish, etc.) with the winner. 

Thanks for any votes, thoughts or advice!

Of Blogging and Headstones

May 17, 2011

And dog tricks, and kitty hiding spots and the strange mix of awkwardness and comfort that occurs when meeting someone in person who you’ve only previously known online, and directions to restaurants located somewhere in the North Chicago area. These are all things that were discussed when I stopped over at the marvelous Jeremy and Tina’s house when I was in Chicago last weekend. They invited me into their home, let me rough-house with their gorgeous pitbull, Talulah, and gave me coffee and a tour of the nearby Graceland Cemetery, which houses the earthly remains of many people who played huge roles in Chicago’s history. And then we went to brunch, and it was good. I even had a chance to see a lot of the city on the way there. *snicker*

I’ve said it several times, in a few different places, but Jeremy – if you read this one – thanks again for a wonderful afternoon!

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New CUP Contest tomorrow!

May 13, 2011

Okay, I want to write about my week, so you can either bear with me OR if you just want to learn about tomorrow’s CUP Contest scroll all the way down to the last paragraph of this post.

START READING HERE FOR DRAMA! INTRIGUE! BETRAYAL! TOW TRUCKS!

This past week has been amazingly stressful, both in good ways and bad.

On Friday I drove eight hours down to Chicago to visit with my Mom. On Saturday we went to the Art Institute, enjoyed a lovely tapas lunch at Emilio’s, and went to Cirque Eloize that evening. After the show we ate a light dinner at Petterino’s and then came back to the hotel and packed. The next morning we got up early, I dropped Mom off at the train station and I headed over to meet Chicago cool cat and fellow blogger Jeremy and his Chicago cool cat wife, Tina. We puttered around snapping photos in a relatively famous cemetery called Graceland Cemetery, then battled the Mother’s Day crowds to have lunch at Marietta’s (phenomenal lunch and well worth the wait!). I’ll have more info and pics of the Chicago trip in a later post.

I left for Minneapolis at around 2pm, but immediately became stuck in traffic on I94 leaving Chicago. I survived that and stopped at the Belvidere Oasis for road snacks (i.e., junk food that can’t be justified in normal day-to-day existence), and then I made it four hours NW to Mauston, Wisconsin when my car broke down. My bought in February of this year/60-day bumper-to-bumper warranty expiring less than three weeks ago/NEW CAR broke down. When I stopped for gas in Mauston, the engine wouldn’t start again. I called AAA for a tow truck. When I went into the BP to let them know why I was blocking a pump, I was browbeaten into pop clutching the car by this horrific bully of a woman who mocked me for  calling for help when it was so obvious that all I had was a dead battery. We got the engine started and I agreed with her that I should just head for Minneapolis and not stop anymore.

But instead, the second I left the  BP gas station I drove over to a local KMart to buy a battery, just in case mine quit on the trip home. At KMart the car died as I was pulling into a parking spot. Not a good sign, but my first reaction was  joyous indignation as I thought “Ha! I knew that pushy b*tch was wrong!” But then I realized “Oh wait, my car is broke good, innit?” Still, I decided to replace the battery and try for home.

As soon as the battery was in, I started the ignition and the engine roared to life. I headed for Minneapolis, but made myself nauseous with worry for the next three hours. I tried all sorts of tricks to relax including listening to different kinds of music and podcasts to distract myself, breathing deeply and calmly, arguing with myself that even if I did break down I could call for help, and really a breakdown was just money and time.

None of that worked.

I worried for the entire time up until I actually did break down again outside of Hudson, WI, which is about 40 miles from Minneapolis.  I was THIS close to making it home! It was about 9:30pm and night had fallen. I glanced down at my dash and saw that it was completely dark. I glanced at the road in front of me and was horrified to realize that my headlights had gone out. The only reason I was able to see was because the traffic behind me was illuminating the road and the tail lights of the cars in front of me were guiding my way. I pulled off the road just as the engine died. Alternator.

Aych eee double hockey sticks.

To make an already long story slightly less interminable: AAA came and towed me to Stillwater where some nice friends rescued me and put me up for the night.  

Monday was gray and depressing. I had left my glasses in the car at the repair shop and my contacts had conked out, so I spent most of the day with fuzzy vision, which gave me a headache. The car wasn’t ready until 2:30pm. So, many hours and $600 later I left Stillwater. I drove right to the house of some friends in North Minneapolis to relax and be around nice people, because I was so bummed out that I didn’t want to be in an empty apartment by myself. Who knows what kind of damage I could have done the Ben and Jerry’s container in the freezer at my place?

On Tuesday I had to go to the dentist AND I had a doctor’s appointment. Also, work got very…involved that day. The one bright spot was a crazy spring storm and an evening of drinks and gossip at the Independent with a friend.

On Wednesday work was very busy again, and I spent the evening doing laundry and cleaning the house.

So, you see…it’s just been an often crabby, sometimes enjoyable, busy few days.

But yesterday was pretty awesome. Work is crazy busier than usual, but I’ve taken on an interesting new project. After work last night I headed over to the Be’Wiched Deli in Minneapolis to enjoy dinner, drinks and conversation with the Minnesota Skeptics meetup group.

And today I felt like blogging. Woo-hoo!

START READING HERE FOR CUP CONTEST INFORMATION!

So, now that I’ve completely tricked you into reading about my personal drama by putting a misleading title on this blog post, allow me to announce that TOMORROW at 6pm I will post the next Close Up Photo Contest entry. I actually have the CUP Winners page up to date, so stop on by to read the rules, learn about past entries and take a gander at the current player rankings.

See you tomorrow!

Hai, Chicago!

May 6, 2011

I am very excited to be in Chicago.

I survived the drive in – it’s amazing how I haven’t forgotten how to drive in Chicago and the surrounding area. Minneapolis is very relaxed: most people follow road signs, nearly everyone uses turn signals to change lanes, they only change one lane at  a time, everyone leaves a nice buffer space between cars, and those who do speed do so at a nice, predictable rate and seem to know that they’re the ones who are bending the laws, so they’re good about working with surrounding traffic.

And Chicago drivers are all Screw. That.

Seriously, that $375 minimum charge for speeding in a construction zone…joke, right? If anyone were to drive the speed limit in those zones I’m pretty sure they’d get a fender in their bumper. Also, I forgot how much tolls suck and was really missing my old IPass. And, you all charge for reals money for parking.

Our hotel is on Michigan Avenue, and our hotel room… Wowza.

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It reminds me of last summer when we passed through Vail, CO. Everything in town was a steal because it was off-season, so we splurged on a fancy room that normally went for $900/night in the winter. Of course, in Chicago we don’t have a view of the forests and a stream trickling right outside of our window, but that little puddle of water out front is kinda pretty.  Okay, we drew an inner courtyard room, but the fact that I know Lake Michigan is right outside the hotel is good enough for me.

Now, off to the bar to have a whiskey, then it’s time to decide how we want to spend tomorrow!