Boston in July

August 14, 2017

What do you do in July and August if you live in Texas Why you go North to escape the heat (if you can). That’s exactly what we did. Traveled to Boston July 16-21 and were greeted by one of their three, according to a local, heat waves of the year. Of course for them the high 80s count as a heat wave. The high 80s is nothing for a true Texan except for much of Boston is not air conditioned and suddenly we discover how much we depend on that brilliant invention by Willis Carrier.

As I usually do I snapped a gazillion photos, most of which are not worth sharing. However, a few of the better photos are at: Boston Photos Earlier this Summer on our West Coast Baseball Trip I utilized my iPhone 6 instead of carting around my DSLR and bevy of additional lenses. On this trip I used only a Panasonic LUMIX point and shoot camera. Much lighter and smaller than the DSLR and the photo quality unless you are planning on blowing up enlargements is pretty darn good.

Boston is a very expensive tourist destination. Parking is non-existent (don’t take a car). However, getting around Boston by mass transit and walking very easy.

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View from our hotel room

As with the last trip blog this one is mostly a day by day diary of what went down:

  • Sunday – flew to Boston. On time, what else could a person ask for
  • Dinner at Giacomo’s. Waited 1.5 hours to eat at a 10 table restaurant. Very good. Was the wait worth it?

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  • Monday – Drove To Springfield to the Dr. Seuss Museum. Stopped at a diner in Worcester for breakfast. Real dump but good breakfast.
  • The museum was great. There were several other museums there also. My favorite was the Indian Motorcycle museum.
  • Lunch at The Student Prince, a German restaurant in downtown Springfield. Been there since 1935 and very good although we were the only patrons. It was after 2 so maybe understandable.
  • Drove back to hotel only getting lost once in Boston which was better than in the drive out
  • That night: Harbor Cruise
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Downtown Boston from the Harbor

  • Tuesday: late breakfast at The Thinking Cup then back to hotel and after an animated discussion we decided to buy Hop On Hop Off tickets to tour Boston in combination with walking the Freedom Trail. My first Hop On Hop Off and I enjoyed it. However the driver-tour guide makes a World of difference. Throughout the day we had two that were brilliant and two that were mediocre. The Boston Commons and The Boston Gardens were disappointing. I was expecting a botanical garden but instead trees and grass for the most part. We stopped in Back Bay for lunch at Dillon’s. It was quite good and would go back. Next stop was South Side and The Boston Tea Party exhibit. We just stopped at the gift shop. Not sure why we did not go in?
  • Then to the Wharf Disctrict, Quincy Market, Walk around the District until Dinner,
  • Dinner at Boston Sail Loft. Mediocre
  • Walked back to hotel in pouring rain
  • Watched a couple of movies
  • Wednesday: Breakfast at Boston Commons Coffee Company. Then off to the JFK Presendential Library. This is our 3rd Presendential Library – Hoover, the 2nd Bush were the other two. I find it very interesting how different each of the Libraries were. Of course the Presidents were from widely different era’s. Hoover’s barely had any material on his Presidency. Most of the library focused on his earlier life which was amazing. He was a World Class Engineer. That he came from a small town in Iowa, West Branch, is even more amazing. Proves that in America is the Land of Opporttunity. Bush’s was multi-media, fairly small, and focused on Decision Making. You could come back every year and some of the exhibits would change. Kennedy was the first President in the Age of TV and the exhibits were in great part TV footage. JFK’s tour starts out with a short video of his life story up to his Presendential nomination at the 1960 Los Angeles Democratic Convention. Then the majority of the tour chronicles his time in office. There is one wall at the end playing footage of the assassination. After that you walk into a massive hall with glass walls reaching at least four stories showcasing a magnificient view of downtown Boston and the larger harbor.
  • We dropped Gwen off a the Aquarium and the rest of us went on to the hotel. Me to rest and Kevin/Trish to meet up with Trish’s boss.
  • Thursday: Breakfast at the neighborhood joint – Soffee’s. It was awful. Then drove to Woods Hole and caught the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. Spent the day there (afternoon that is. The drive to Woods Hole was 1 hour 40 minutes. Then a 25 minute bus ride from the parking area to the ferry. Then a hour ferry ride to the Island. Gwen and I ate lunch first and after that explored the town. About mid-afternoon I took a nap on a shady park bench. Right before leaving we walked out into the ocean so we could say we swam in the Atlantic at Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Friday. Breakfast and the flew home
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Dr. Seuss early art work

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June Baseball Park Adventure

August 2, 2017

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This year we decided to visit some MLB parks.  Our plan was to start in the Bay Area, drive leisurely down the Coast  to the City Of the Angels, then to San Diego and wrap up the trip in Phoenix.

I usually lug my DSLR and a few lens along with me when we travel. However on this trip left them at home and snapped all the photos with my iPhone.  For more photos click on: June Baseball Album

Best ballparks

  • Giants Stadium (AT&T Park) in San Francisco
  • Padres Stadium (Petco Park) in San Diego
  • DIamondback Park (Chase Field) in Phoenix

My favorite was Petco Park. They let dogs attend the games as long as they don’t wander from the outfield grass. Gwen’s was Chase Field because it is covered and she is dreaming of the day the Rangers open their covered park.

Best Restuarants

  • Fish Market with many locations in the Bay Area
  • Fog Harbor Fish House at Pier 39, San Francisco
  • Cass Winery outside of Los Robles
  • Cafe Roma in San Luis Obispo
  • Reunion in Anaheim
  • PrepKitchen Little Italy in San DIego

Hottest Day – 112 in Phoenix

Coolest Day – 68 in San Francisco

Trip Highlight

Meeting my cousin Leslie Olson and his family in Phoenix.  Their daughter, Sarah, actually made the visit happen.  Thanks Sarah.

Trip day by day timeline

2017-06-21: We ate at breakfast at Friday’s before the flight. Flew first class to San Francisco on 9AM flight.  Then lunch at San Mateo Fish Market.  It was as good as I remember. 

In San Francisco we are staying at Marriott Courtyard Union Square.  Weird hotel has no exercise room.  So we walked around the Union Square area.  Pretty much like I remember it.  A few blocks West of the Square by the hotel is pretty much run down.  Lots of shops around the square.  We are actually a couple of blocks from the Wyndham. 

For dinner we dined at the Daily Grill. Gwen had chicken pot pie and I had the meat loaf.  Doesn’t seem like food you would find in San Francisco.   Very delicious however. 

Topped off the night by watching Logan. Very different and dark.  There was oceans of blood unlike the previous X-men movies.  Don’t recommend it for children.

2017-06-22: Breakast at Sear’s Fine Food.  Very good. 

Oakland A’s game: Decided to take Bart. Good decision. For the cost of the toll over the Bay Bridge I’m a car Bart dropped us off at the Colliseum gate.

The game was not close. The Astros led 10-0 at the end of the 2nd inning to sweep the series.  We took Bart back to the City.  It has to be the noisiest train I’ve ever been on.

For dinner we broke down and decided to use the car. Drove down to Fisherman’s Wharf and ate at Fog Harbor Fish House. I had the grilled cod in a white beantomatogreens broth.  We tend to eat here every time we visit The City and it never disappoints.

2017-06-23:  Bereakfast at Lori’s. Mediocre!  Then we drove to Golden Gate Park to visit the Academy of Science. It houses an Aquarium and a Planetarium along with other exhibits.  Well worth the $35/person fee and the highlight of my trip. 

After the Academy we lunched at a salad joint in an adjoining neighborhood Pluto’s. Supposedly a chain but I’ve never heard of it. It was actually quite yummy.

Then to the hotel to rest before walking two miles to AT&T Stadium to watch a Giants game.  The stadium was beautiful. The setting was on the bay and the stadium itself was a blend of the old and new.  Of the stadiums I’ve visited I would place it number 2 to Cincinnati’s.

2017-06-24: Breakfast at the Daily Grill.  We wanted to try the Taylor Stree Coffee Shop but there was an hour wait there at 8:30AM. The Daily Grill was close by and we enjoyed Dinner there a couple of days ago. The breakfast was very good. 

After breakfast we packed up and drove to San Luis Obispo.  The first part of the drive was stop and go until right before Salinas. Turns out everyone in the Bay must drive to Monterrey or Carmel for the weekend because most traffic exited at the Monterrey exit.  We had lunch at the Cass Winery 10 miles outside of Los Robles. The detour was worth it.  Lunch was outstanding.  Along with lunch we sampled their wines and purchased a couple of bottles.

We finally arrived at the Hampton Inn in San Luis Obispo and spent the last part of the afternoon resting up, at least I did while Gwen did laundry.

We enjoyed dinner at Cafe Roma, a long time Italian restaurant in the Railroad District.  Then back to the hotel and watched a movie which seems to be our modus operandi the last few days. 

2017-06-25: Breakfast at Nautial Bean Coffee. The joint was full of Millennials so we fit right it.  Main fare was bagel sandwiches  which were delicious.

After breakfast we drove through Prefumo Canyon, over the hills, and through See Canyon to Avila Beach on recommendation of a couple we met last night at dinner. Very scenic and interesting drive and worth the extra time to get to the beach. 

June2017BaseballTrip-114We relaxed at the beach for quite awhile and then decided to drive up the Coast to see the Elephant Seals.  Took an hour but well worth the visit. I could watch those magnificent creatures for hours relax on the beach and flipping sand on their bodies from time to time.

On the way back we detoured into Cambria to walk the boardwalk and hopefully grab a bite to eat.  Unfortunately it seems the only restaurant in town closes at 3PM on Sunday.  So on to Morro Bay where we had fish and chips at Tognazinni’s Dockside Restaurant.  The fish was halibut which I’ve never eaten as part of the fish in fish and chips. 

Topped the afternoon off by strolling through downtown SLO.  There were the usual shops and restaurants but also an inordinate number of bars.  Then I remembered this is a college town – Cal Poly.  I didn’t think those future Phd’s had any time to drink.

2017-06-26: Breakfast at Big Sky in downtown SLO. Delicious with a Southwestern flare.

Drove to Santa Barbara. Pleasant drive. Lunch at a restaurant in Goleta called Jane where I ate a Greek Salad with lamb.  After lunch we drove around Santa Barbara. Check out Chaucher’s Books, drove through downtown. We then decided to head for the beach. Gwen directed us to a cemetery!  So I got us to the beach where we walked around for an hour or so. 

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After the beach we checked in at the OTF where we will exercise in the morning.

We ate dinner at the Boathouse. Food was good but the view of the beach, the crowd on the beach, and the ocean was priceless.

Got back to a hot room so they moved us. The new room was cool but on the 1st floor. Unfortunately for us a group of 50 or so kids were at the pool and whoever was abo be us had lead feet.  Stopping for the night so will let you know in the morning how it turned out. (Turned out the kids did quiet down)

2017-06-27: Exercised for the first time in a week at the Goleta OTF.  Then packed our bags and headed out to Anaheim.  Everything rolled along fine until we hit LA traffic.  It was terrible as usual.  Staying at a Fairfield Inn in Anaheim and headed for the Dodger game tonight. 

Ate a late lunch at a local spot called Reunion. I know the word is overused but it was awesome.

Dodger/Angel game. Dodgers won 4-0.  We sat in Center Field.  The seats offered a different perspective on the game.  Dodger Stadium is now one of the older parks in MLB but still pretty nice. Parking was maybe 1/2 mile from our seats. I read once this is one of the cheapest places to watch a game.  Things have changed.  All the concessions are very expensive.

2017-06-28: OTF this morning was invigorating.  Just like all the OTFs we have visited it has more room than our Allen OTF.  Since then we ate breakfast and Gwen is at the local laundromat washing clothes while I’m in Starbucks.  Fair trade?

We had a late lunch at Reunion.  We had lunch there yesterday but it wa so good we came back today.  We then drove over to Anaheim Stadium early and walked about 1/2 mile to Rubios for a snack before the game.  Fast food Mexican Seafood but very tasty and surprisingly uncrowned.  That may have a lot to do with the nature of the stadium. Built in the 60s and surrounded by a huge parking lot instead of a neighborhood like some of the other stadiums we have visited.

Fairfield Inn Anaheim Hills: I would not stay here again.  It is a very large hotel with all the rooms opening to the outside just like a mid-60s Motel 6.  There was almost no toilet paper in the room and the bathroom sink was stopped up.

Angel-Dodger game. Angels won this one 2-1 in the 10th.  It’s an okay stadium. I’d rank it above Dodger’s stadium but well below the Rangers.  However, the Angels/Dodgers rilvary is quite lively.  If you ever get a chance to attend a freeway series do it.

2017-06-29:

  • Breakfast: Corner Bakery
  • Drove to Oceanside
  • Lunch at Hello Betty
  • Walked the pier
  • Drove to Springhill Suites and checked in
  • Drove into San Diego. Parked near the park for $20
  • Snaclk/dinner at Barley Mash
  • Watched the game – great ballpark

2017-06-30: Free day in San Diego.  Started the day with a workout at OTF.   After cleaning up we drove to Coronado Island for an early lunch at Migel’s Cucina.  After lunch we walked around the beach.  We attempted bike riding but the first place did not have any bike’s Gwen’s size. The second place only had bikes with coaster brakes which Gwen did not feel comfortable riding so we gave up and drove back to the hotel for a break while I finished monthly reports for Master Gardeners.  Then back into town.  We parked in Little Italy and walked a mile down to a bar Mike recommended. It was so dark and loud we just walked back.  For our evening meal we dined at Prepkitchen Little Italy.  Very good and very eclectic. 

2017-07-01: First day of July and we are driving from the California Coast where the temperature never goes above 80 to Phoenix where the temperature never goes below 80 this time of year.  We were greeted by 112 degree temperature upon arrival.

We are staying at the Hampton Inn-Midtown.  Outstanding hotel. Close to everything including the Metro which is within walking distance even in 112 degree hear.

Dinner with cousin Leslie Olson and his family – Linda, Sarah, and Robert. The other son lives in San Diego I believe.  Had an early dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory with them. Caught up on old times and discussed each other’s families.

Finally Diamondbacks/Rockies game at Chase Field.  We took the Metro to Chase field. Best alternative for ball games both their and the Suns basketball games which is next door.

2017-07-02: Flying home today. Sky Harbor Airport is crazy. Too crowded and not enough seats at any gate for the passengers before boarding.  Don’t come to this airport early.

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Boston vs. D.C.

July 27, 2017

or “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay watchin’ the tide roll away.”

This past year we found occasion to vacation in both Boston and DC. Both are on the East Coast but I find the differences and similarities striking:

  • First, Boston is on water while DC is a swamp, at least as far as I’m concerned. This alone gives Boston a huge advantage.
  • If you are into history and museums then you won’t be disappointed with either.
  • Both are expensive destinations. I suspect Boston is more so. However Mrs. Olson is the accountant in our family and therefore I don’t know for sure.
  • Bostonians are much friendlier. Does anyone ever laugh in DC? Full disclosure: I worked in DC from time to time and thus my opinion is highly influenced by those experiences.
  • Parking is non-existent in both cities. Don’t bring an automobile! Mass transit and the bus are definitely the better choice. Like, how could you build the Smithonian on the Mall without parking? Did the horses just graze on the lawn while waiting on their people?
  • The Boston Big Dig and the airport including the rental car facility architect was Franz Kafka. If your my age surely you remember “Charlie and the MTA”. Well, this is the 21st Century’s equivalent. DC is much easier to navigate by auto. You just can’t Park when you arrive at your destination.
  • Both have great restaurants.

In the end I preferred Boston. Why? When I tired of museums, history, great restaurants I could “sit on the dock on the Bay and watch the tide roll away”.


Grand Canyon never gets old

July 4, 2017

Today’s  the 4th of July.  I’m sitting on the patio thinking about where I’d like to be.  First thing that popped into my head was the Grand Canyon.  Walking up to the Canyon’s lip and staring out onto the vast expanse always takes my breath away (Wonder where your breath goes?)


This is my first post from my iPad with a photo – Major breakthrough for me thanks to a Workflow provided by Macstories. 


Energy and Civilization

June 18, 2017

The rise of plentiful and cheap energy is a prime driver in our civilization’s advancement. The more advanced the Civilization the more energy will be needed per Nocoli Kardashev. Seems reasonable to me. Similar to Parkinson’s Law: Work Expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Kardashev, the Russian Astronomer, rated civilizations on their energy consumption.

Type I have the capacity to use and store all the energy reaching the planet from their Star. We are not Type I yet. Not even close. Some estimates state the Sun delivers 5 magnitudes more energy to the Earth than we can generate and consume. So open your doors and windows and turn the thermostat down this Summer.

Incidentally, there are two more levels and more have been added since the original scale was published. Google Kardashev if your interested.

Finally, if you don’t believe our Civilization is becoming more advanced consider this: I wrote and published this between innings at a Saturday afternoon Ranger game.

However, I did not publish this until Sunday because I forgot the WordPress password. Maybe someday we will enhance our brains to not forget anything. Wait a minute! That’s a terrible idea; I’ve a lot I want to forget.


Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

June 1, 2017

Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

Sgt. Pepper: it was 50 years ago today Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beattles was released. It is one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. I’ve listened to the last track A Day in the Life more than any other song by an order of magnitude. Sgt. Pepper is an album to be listened to not just heard. That is, sit down and pay attention, don’t just play it as background music.

I was a student in Chicago that Summer which became know a The Summer of Love. We were deluged with new groups such as Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Greateful Dead, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience just to name a few. Timothy Leary told us to tune in, turn on, and drop out. The Beattle’s Sgt. Pepper conveyed the spirit of those days perfectly.

A remix of the album has just been released (Called the Anniversary Edition) with several different options including vinyl – who still has a turntable — ME. Giles Martin, son of George Martin who produced the original, produced the remix. I’ve been lucky enough to hear segments and the sound is noticeably enhanced and better. If there ever was an album worth purchasing this is the one. I’m queuing up to purchase my copy.

Woke up,
Got out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head,
….


Paxson’s Most Excellent Road Trip

May 28, 2017

Ever taken a 1000 mile Road Trip with a 4 year old? We did!  Just finished driving from DFW to Sedona to The Grand Canyon and back again with our 4 1/2 year old grandson.  Because he was so young (and we were so old) we took three days and two nights getting there and the same amount of time returning.

Cathedral Rock Sedona

Cathedral Rock

More photos available at: Click Here

Unlike past travel blogs I wrote this trip report in a Timeline  or Diary format.  So read on to take a long ride

2017-04-24 Started packing this morning. Now at Dr. Smith’s office – Dermatologist. Good News week – No skin cancers!

2017-04-25 Starting Paxton’s great adventure in Southlake. Today we travel to Amarillo

Stopped for a break at River Bend Nature Center Wichita Falls. They had a interesting butterfly exhibit as well as some live native creatures and a children’s playground.  Next we dined at an almost deserted Pizza Hut because it was close to the Nature Center.  Almost deserted – we were the only customers.

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Zebra Longtail Butterfly

Damm! 5 miles out of Wichita Falls the right front tire blew out on the MDX.  Then I discovered many new vehicles do not have a spare.  After that I discovered we had let the road side assistance lapse last month.  After that I discovered my only option was to have the car towed into a tire dealer; No coming out to me. After that I discovered there are no Michelin tires for our SUV in Wichita Falls.

2 hours later. Leaving the tire store with a brand spanking new Goodyear tire on my right front.

Tire fixed and drove to Amarillo without incident.  Met Mike and Jackie for dinner and then we all took Paxson to the local amusement park.  He loved it!  We overnighted in a Staybridge Inn.  Seems to be fairly new and nice.  Would stay here again.

2017-04-26: Amarillo to Albuquerque. Lunch at Oak Creek Cafe, then the Zoo, then back to hotel for a quick swim.  Dinner at El Pinto which is a huge Mexican Restaurant on the far North side of town in a run down neighborhood. It was probably in the country when they opened in 62 if I remember right.

2017-04-27: Up early today and driving from Albuquerque to Sedona.

Now in Holbrook Az. having lunch at Tom & Suzies Diner.  Lunch was good.

Arrived in Sedona at 2:30PM MST.  That’s a 7.5 hour trip from Albuquerque.   Condo is great.  Now relaxing.

Mike and Sara arrived at 6PM.  Rested a bit and dined at Hidaway House, an older Italian restaurant with great views of the mountains.

2017-04-28: Up at 6:30AM. The boys are very rambunctious this morning. I guess they are happy to be together again but I feel sorry for the people below us.

Breakfast at Wildflower Bread Company. Just as good as I remember.

Then we took the Pink Jeep Tour with the boys  up into the hills where only a jeep driver could take us.  I was surprised the boys loved the bumpy wild ride.  We made two stops for photo ops. Austin fell asleep on the way back to town after the 2nd stop.  How can he sleep through this?

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Fun in the back of a Pink Jeep

Lunch at Oaxaca .  Maybe the 4th or 5th time Gwen and I have been there.  I’m sure there are better Hispanic restaurants in the area but the place seems like home to us so we always go back.

After that we took the boys swimming.  Everything went well until Pax tripped while running to catch Mommy and Austin and spreadeagled on the rocks.  Cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over.  Fell so sorry for him.

Put the boys down for a nap. They slept 2 hours and we woke them up so they would sleep tonight.

We dined at Elote with the boys.  Had to wait an hour for a table which was not unusual at that restaurant. They don’t take reservations and there is always a waiting list.  Easily the best restaurant in Sedona.

2017-04-29 Up at 6 this morning. Sunny and 35 degrees.

Everyone else is visiting Jerome today. I’m staying at the condo and catching up on email and Master Gardener Stuff.  Made a Workflow today which takes Markdown from the input and sends a monthly Technology Group report to Dr. Church.

Pizza place down the street for lunch.

Dinner at the Condo

2017-04-30: Today we are headed out to the Grand Canyon hiking. By we I mean Sara, Mike, & I.  Gwen and the boys are driving up later. We had a long, hard day hiking the Canyon on the Kaibab Trail.

Dinner at El Tovar.   

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The Canyon

2017-05-01: Up at 6. I was up multiple times with leg cramps last night.   We are starting the trip home today. Tonight we stop at Albuquerque.

We had an uneventful drive to Albuquerque today. There are not many dining options  between Flagstaff and Albuquerque.  Today we had a late lunch at Applebee’s in Gallup.  At home I would not eat at an Applebee’s but on I40 in the middle of nowhere its a good option.

Dinner tonight in Albuquerque was at Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, exceptional. Definitely a place to dine next time we are in Albuquerque.

2017-05-02:  Paxson and Gwen visit the zoo and the aquarium before leaving Albuquerque.  This time Alex the Lion is out so the visit was a success.   Drive to Amarillo.  Dinner with Mike and Jackie at Embers located in the old David’s Steaks location.

2017-04-03: Breakfast at the Bagel Place before and uneventful drive to Southlake to deliver Paxson to the other grandparents.  All’s well that ends well

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