seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy


Thoughts and reflections on trips I have taken, from across the planet to across the state.

Photos from Portland

I have posted the few photos I took while in Portland visiting Russ, Lisa, Adam, Ildiko, Orf, and Katie. Unfortunately, I did not take many of Adam and Ildy because we mainly hung out during the week when we were busy working and such. I mostly have fun taking photos of Russ and Lisa's kitties.



Vacation Ideas I hope to Visit

Outside magazine has had some interesting ideas for vacations and trips that have me excited to actually take a vacation where I leave work behind for awhile. I'm putting this up so I don't forget where I can find the articles.

I greatly enjoyed my first visit to Zion National Park and want to go back - Outside's May 2009 issue has a tip on how to avoid most of the tourists although a subsequent letter to the editor challenged whether or not this was good advice - they suggested heading for camp 5 or 6.

There was also a tip for Glacier National Park that I hope to check out at some point with Michelle.

In a more recent issue (July 2009), they offer what sounds like a great road-trip in Oregon but the California one is also intruiging. The one that really caught my interest is in the Dakotas, offering a Teddy Roosevelt National Park (the least visited National Park) as its destination and I have long wanted to get out there.

Portland Photos

Some photos from my Portland trip - I didn't really pull the camera out until after I was done with my conference for work. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of Adam and Ildiko due to the way our schedules worked out. But I got some good stuff with Russ, Lisa, and Orf. Also, you can see Russ and Lisa's cats at the base of the cat jungle gym that I helped Russ and Lisa to finish.

Russ and Lisa in kitchen

Russ and Lisa's cats


Leaving Portland Soonish

After a great time in Portland, I'll be heading back to Saint Paul tonight - my flight leaves at 12:30 AM and arrives at 5:30 AM. Russ is sleeping on the couch, Adam and Ildiko might be coming over soon for pie that Lisa made earlier and she is knitting on the couch now after having "tested" the whip cream to make sure it was working correctly. Good stuff.

I had a good presentation on Friday, Orf came down and we wandered about the city with Russ and Lisa on buses and trains. Adam and I did a few climbs in the Gorge (I sucK but had fun nonetheless). We had lots of good food, had an evening of fun with friends (thanks for coming out, Katie Iossi!).

And today Russ, Lisa, and I more or less finished a 7 foot tall home-made cat stand for their two cutie kiddies... photos to follow- and hopefully soon! While out here, I picked up an unexpected photography gig for late in the month back in Minnesota. So this has been a pretty good trip!

Portland and Portland

Last night, I flew into Portland and Adam picked me up at the airport. Had a good day today, got some work done, prepped for the presentation on Friday and am now waiting for Russ and Lisa to come by for Lebanese food before we all head out to the latest Harry Potter movie.

In other Portland news, the house that Michelle and I are buying is one step closer to being ours (and is located on Portland Ave)! Apparently the appraisal came back with plenty of margin so it looks like all our financing is wrapped up. Weeee hoooooo!

Pinball Champion of the World

Kimmi takes a turn at the pins below. While in Arkansas, I was relaxing too much to take many photos, but I played around with some remote lights one dark night as we were playing pinball. I mostly like this shot - we were playing in a room mostly lit by the pinball machine. Unfortunately, Seanly was hiding behind Kimmi and is not really visible in the shot.

On the last night we stayed there, we played a final round to determine the champion of the world. I started out with a very strong first ball and never looked back - making me the reigning world champion (as determined by us).

Pinball in action

Down Under in a Sunburned Country

If you haven't read Bill Bryson, you are missing out. I've read a few of his books and own more. I recently picked up "Down Under," a travel book wherein Bryson travels to and all around Australia. Shortly after finishing, I realized it was the same book as In a Sunburned Country - a book I also owned. I guess Sunburned Country is just the American version and the former was the British version.

Though highly entertaining, I found it somewhat bitterseet in that he had far more time and a larger budget than I could ever imagine having. And I'm not sure what I would cut out after reading his descriptions.

'But don't worry,' she continued, 'Most snakes don't want to hurt you. If you're out in the bush and a snake comes along, just stop dead and let it slide over your shoes.'

This, I decided, was the least-likely-to-be-followed advice I had ever been given.

Bryson strikes a great balance between history, tourist attractions, non-tourist sorta attractions, and making fun of tourists (mostly American). Then he just makes great observations:

I've never quite understood why tourists from the more prosperous end of the market are so drawn to wine-growing areas. They wouldn't, presumably, want to go and see cotton before it became Gap slacks or caviar being gutted from sturgeon, but give them a backdrop of vines and they appear to think they have found heaven.

Having started this book not knowing much about Australia (he actually makes a strong case that no one knows much about Australia), I finished it deciding I'll have to find a way to travel there, if to do nothing more than visit the Tree Top Walk.

I've enjoyed a number of his other books - in particular, Mother Tongue (a history of the english language) and the famous A Walk in the Woods (about the Appalachian Trail), perhaps his most popular.

Post Arkansas Roundup

We have returned. Kimmi, daddYman, and I drove to Chicago to pick up daddYman's sister Nina (pronounced neener) and then down to Berryville in Arkansas to visit daddYman's brother (Seanly) and family friend Kriste-le. Good times were had by all! Pinball, poker, good food, and lots of conversations and memories. Can't miss... especially when the weather cooperates by staying below 100.

It was a pretty durn good 4th - especially as Seanly and I, occasionally abetted by daddYman, solved the world's problems. It turns out that some of the solutions involve minding your own damn business. As for the other solutions, well, we came to no consensus.

I got some photo editing in and showed off some photos to Kriste-le and Nina. Now we are back in town and back at work. If you want to read a recent op-ed I wrote and was publishing in a paper in West Virginia, check out my new work site, You can also see a recent interview I did about the site.

In other news, Michelle and I completed another house inspection today. She has details on her blog about the new house. The other house fell through after the appraisal came through way lower than expected, leading us to realize we could not finance that house. The appraisal was low, somewhat absurdly so, but there was little we could do so we had to move on. If someone gets that house for anything near the appraised value, they are lucky lucky people.

Off to Arkansas

I'm getting ready to head down to Arkansas this afternoon. I may get a post up or two this weekend but I may not - we'll see. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great 4th of July weekend. I encourage you to reflect on how fortunate we are because our ancestors made some great decisions and accepted higher taxes to build the infrastructure that we all take for granted today - the infrastructure that built our economy.

A question we have to consider is what we are doing for the future. Are we building what they will need to be successful? Or are we leaving them to fend for themselves so we can have more immediate gratification? This is a question fit for a patriot.

Returning Home

Michelle and I are wrapping up our Duluth weekend and preparing to head back home. We have had a great time despite the crumminess of the walls in the Comfort Suites - don't think we will be staying at another one if we have better options. We could hear too much in rooms all around us throughout the night.

But the view has been beautiful. The ice cracked on the lake right out our window and we have watched as it soaked up water and has now refrozen.

Yesterday, when we were walking along the harbor, we heard a loud cracking noise and got to see a crack suddenly appear on the ice in front of us. It must now have frozen very deeply since that warming trend we had a few weeks ago.

Michelle and I woke up to this - it was a good video to kick off the day, thanks daddYman.

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