On the go (again)

I know we’ve been a little lax with the blog, but no sooner did we get settled in Washington, D.C., than we were packing again for a short side jaunt to NY. Yay! We do love New York. What’s not to love?

Anyway, we haven’t done much in the way of exploring DC since our main goal was to see our beautiful, smart, adorable granddaughter. We are staying in Petworth, which is in northwest DC. A couple of short wanders have revealed many Latino restaurants we’ve yet to try, but are eager to. We are also close to the Metro, which makes the neighborhood more desirable to us since we can get around without driving. More on Petworth and DC when we have a chance to explore.

And then we were off to NY.

A sidebar on train travel

We took Amtrak from Union Station to Penn Station, which is great because train stations are in the middle of cities and airports are not. We were able to walk to our hotel; however, I would swear that the train made as much lateral movement as forward motion. Good thing Steven had taken the train not long ago and he warned me to wear my motion-sickness patch. The trains in Europe are a lot smoother — and faster.

We are staying in Murray Hill at the Kitano, which is a lovely hotel except that it is Japanese and the Japanese are still very Covid-nervous so all the restaurants and the jazz bar are closed. Oh well. It’s not like we were going to eat here, but jazz would have been nice.

Why wouldn’t we eat at the hotel? you ask. Because there was pizza to be had for lunch when we arrived and bagels to munch for breakfast.

Saturday we did what we usually do and took a death march from 38th up through Central Park and all the way to 94th Street. Then, we decided we wanted ice cream. I had seen vegan soft serve on 30th, so down we went. We hiked about 12 miles, but it was a beautiful day and we didn’t have any plans.

That evening, we met Steven’s aunt and uncle (Hi Uncle David) at a very delicious Italian restaurant uptown, Sistina. The food was amazing and we always enjoy their company. Because we hadn’t gotten enough exercise, we walked back (just another couple of miles).

Sunday was drizzly, so we decided to see “Nope.” Of course, we walked to the theater, enjoyed the movie (good, not great) and walked back. We hadn’t had any Chinese food, so we thought, “Why not walk to Chinatown?” Of course! On the way, we passed McSorley’s, which was teeming with police and firefighters commemorating 9/11. (New York wasn’t as somber as I expected. We saw a parade on Saturday, which we thought was probably a commemoration and was full of union workers, but we weren’t downtown, so I am sure there was more going on there).

We stopped at a bar around the corner from McSorley’s called Cooper’s in the East Village for a drink and to watch the New York Giants (who, despite their best efforts, managed to win). We ended up having a great chat with a couple of firefighters and a niece of one of them. Before we knew it, it was after 8. We thought, “What the heck, we’ll keep walking to Chinatown,” … but it was raining and we were hungry, so we hopped the subway and had Chinese at Chili. around the block from the hotel. All’s well that ends well.

Monday was a work day followed by the Mets game (We had 4th row seats right behind the Mets’ dugout!). Man do I hate the Cubs! 5-2 sounds closer than it was. Bases loaded twice and nothing to show for it. Sitting next to their fans at Citi Field was worse! Even worse, they weren’t even from Chicago, but Utah of all places. But, Citi Field is fabulous and I can’t wait to go back. Let’s go Mets!

The Old and the Restless

Gratuitous bear statute pic for the granddaughter. Somewhere near the DC zoo, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the zoo.

Surprise! We’re restless in our apartment in Baltimore, so Friday we went to DC to wander around, but first we had a very important errand. We visited the Polish consulate to apply for my EU passport. It was a bit of a disappointing experience in that the room was tiny and stuffy and the man behind the plexiglass barely spoke as he stamped away at my documents. The good news is that he didn’t ask why I speak not a single word of Polish plus we will be able stay in the EU as long as we want (if we want). Aside from that, we took a long walk and did the math in our heads about how house poor we were willing to be to live in a city. I’ll let you know if we ever figure it out.

We did have fun strolling around and noticing that every apartment that is for rent is a luxury apartment. Good for us. Who doesn’t love luxury? Do you think they come with a butler or house cleaner?

We definitely like the restaurant variety and the ability to get around by Metro. We didn’t like the traffic trying to get back to Baltimore. Apparently it’s not only construction season, but car crash season as well. We have noticed that many cities are great as long as you stay in them and don’t drive.

One downside to being out of the country is a lack of baseball, so we’re taking advantage, especially since we are three blocks from the park. We went to a game last week and then decided to hit another on Friday after DC. It was Orioles vs. Guardians (who are from Cleveland and used to be called the Indians) and we were watching a no hitter for 5+ innings (guess which team didn’t have a hit). The Orioles tried to make it a game in the eighth, but they came up short and lost 6-3. Oh well, it was a beautiful night for a game and we got free T-shirts.

Saturday, we did the digital nomad thing and hit the storage locker to swap out a few things. It’s difficult to keep track of where everything is and what climate we need to prepare for. Afterwards, we had a belated birthday dinner for Steven at a restaurant called Cypriana. The hummus was amazing, the rest of the food was fine, but uninspired. We are getting spoiled in our international travels. We aren’t “foodies” in that we don’t want fussy or overly fancy foods just simple food done well.

Today, we decided on a mini-roadtrip to Frederick, about 45 minutes west of Baltimore. It’s a cute little city with a few breweries, a bunch of restaurants and stores plus a walkway along a creek lined with more restaurants, etc. We had a delicious lunch at JoJo’s Restaurant. Getting really good vegan food around here is difficult, but my vegan power bowl was tasty. There are only so many fake burgers a person can eat! We wandered (as we are wont to do) and then got a flight of beer from Attaboy Brewery. The day was perfect: sunny, low humidity and about 80 degrees, so we were glad for the chance to put the top down on the trusty Saab and hit the road.

It was especially nice because the AC in our AirBnB is out and it was a bit balmy in here. We do have excellent hosts, however. They came by with a portable AC unit and then refunded us $200 for our trouble. Sometimes, you just meet good people.

I’m guessing the next time I write, it will be from Barcelona. I’m very excited, since I have never been there, so if you have any tips for me I’m happy to accept them. Or any for Madrid or Lisbon, too 🙂

Pardon the Interruption … It’s Family Time

When we last left off, we had arrived in Florida. We spent Mother’s Day there with Steven’s mom (Hi Mom!!), Aunt Es and Robin (Hi to you beautiful ladies, too). On Monday after Mother’s Day, we began the 15.5 hour drive up to Baltimore for our granddaughter’s birthday. She’s 2 and the cutest baby ever. I dare you to argue!

Fifteen hours is a long way, so we made it 12 and decided to stop. Here’s a hint: If you make the drive from South Florida to Baltimore, find somewhere to stop that is not Emporia, VA. I called it a one-horse town and Steven said I was being generous (extremely generous).

Obligatory Insta sign

We are now ensconced in a lovely AirBnB only three blocks from Camden Yards. Sadly, the Yankees were in town already, so dutiful wife that I am, I allowed Steven to drag me to a game, which also sadly, the Yankees won. The nice thing about being so close to a ballpark with a losing team is that it’s easy to get tickets. We decided at 6 o’clock to go to the 7:10 game and got great seats. Steven and his son had gone to the game that Monday and took advantage of the 1992-priced promotion tickets. Baseball for $18 a seat (The Yankees won both games! Gooo Yankees!).

Our next family event was my nephew’s graduation from University of Maryland. We thought we had lucked out when he told us we didn’t have to attend the whole school morning ceremony, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. We waited almost four hours to hear his name and watch him walk across the stage (which took 15 seconds or so), and that doesn’t count that we got there an hour and a half before it got started, which was already 30 minutes behind. Most of the basketball arena was empty by the time they got to him because the hungry, freezing masses started to leave after their loved ones walked. I feel bad for those last few grads, but we were all exhausted by then. It was wonderful to see the family and spend endless hours sitting next to my niece getting delirious and slap-happy from the endless recitation of names.

Next up, week spend a week watching our granddaughter, which will be fabulous and exhausting, so my nephew and I will be heading to Barcelona (Madrid and Lisboa, too) at the tail end of that to recuperate. (Leaving me to handle the last day on my own…Steven and a two year old, who will be looking after whom?)

Birthday in the Big Apple

Before I get to the post, I want to remind everyone that when I write the post, Sue’s comments are shown in italics and vice versa when she writes. This is important today as I suspect that she may have just a few minor really unimportant comments on the post. 😉

Memorial Day weekend is my birthday, and it is kind of a big one (a VERY big one), so we decided that it was time to take a trip. Sue is fully vaccinated, I have had my first shot and will have my second in a week, so we think we should be safe. My birthday present is a weekend in New York, doing something we both love – seeing baseball games. It is our good luck that both the Yankees (YAY!!! GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM EVER! Um, most annoying overblown team ever) and the other team – you know – the ones from the amateur league – what is their name?….The Nots?, The Nudniks? The Queenies?….oh yeah…The Mets (BOOOOO!!!! Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and up and greet the Mets and please get a bullpen and give deGrom some support!) are both in town that weekend.

So here is the plan – such as it is. Friday night, we will be driving up after Sue gets home from school. It is allegedly a 3.5 hour trip, but on a holiday weekend, we figure more like 6. I suspect we will bring snacks and a picnic dinner in the car. We made reservations at a hotel in Chinatown, so we think we will be there by 10-10:30, settle in and maybe go out for a quick wander and perhaps dessert.

Saturday we have a free day. Our usual methodology is to pick a few places that we might like to visit and just start wandering vaguely in that direction, stopping and changing plans as often as the mood takes us. The other day, I noticed the Museum of Ice Cream on the map, so for me that is a must “see”. Sue is unfortunately lactose intolerant (sorry Sue, no ice cream for you don’t care, don’t like it) maybe they have some of that vegan not really ice cream. Too bad, so sad. You can assume we will be partaking in many of our culinary favorites while on the streets. Bagels, pizza, perhaps a street gyro, and of course, multiple Chinese and Italian bakeries. Saturday night we will find a nice place to eat to celebrate my birthday and if it is possible maybe go out for some jazz.

The Nots, Nudniks, Queenies I mean, Mets, are playing the Braves on Sunday night, and given the antics from a week or so ago (deGrom struck out seven, gave up three hits and he had two hits and one RBI) – we hope to see their bullpen blow another brilliant performance by deGrom (love him!)(or any of their starting pitchers). It is an evening game, and so we will have another morning and at least early afternoon to wander some more. No idea what will be doing, but there are always fun places to visit when you are in New York. If you do not know this, Sue is as ardent of a Nots, Nudniks, Queenies…er Mets fan (this is their year!!!I believe!!!!!) as I am of the the Yankees (GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM EVER. Wrong, everyone knows Yankees suck) I suspect she will write some alternative narrative for this section…Oh well. Let’s see what damage she does. The game is scheduled for ESPN’s Sunday Night baseball, so look for us! We will be the couple engaged in hand-to-hand combat and loudly booing each other. Of course, I will be rooting for Atlanta (I think this is grounds for divorce).

Monday, the Yankees (GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM EVER BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) will be playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the afternoon; our plan is to get up, grab breakfast, get in the car and drive up to the Bronx. With a little luck we will see the Yankees trounce the Rays (although at the moment, the Rays are taking the Yankees’ lunch money yet again. The Yankees look SOOOO BAD, it’s fabulous), in the sunshine in the beautiful house that Ruth built, well, not really because it is the new stadium, but let’s let that go for poetic license. Over the two games I will have my fill of all the perfect baseball food…hot dogs, popcorn, Cracker Jack and beer. Sue will have to make due with some attempts by the plant munchers to simulate these great flavors using plants, nuts and seeds. Following the game, we will hop back in the car, and head home.

Of course all of this is dependent on the stadiums staying open (or even should I dare hope open further), us getting tickets and the whole world not shutting down again.

PS. No spreadsheet needed for this one. 😉

So Much for Our Plans…

st-george-5
Wish we were here

Wouldn’t you know it? Just when we thought we were all set with our travel plans, the world goes and gets a virus. Too flippant? Sorry. It has been a rough couple of weeks.  We last wrote about our trip to New York and Boston that ended on March 8. We were home just about a week and our governor, quite rightly, closed down businesses, schools etc. and we were sequestered to our home.

Thankfully, neither Sue nor I show signs of the Covid-19 virus, but we are both going a bit stir crazy from being inside (yesterday we walked 5 miles, just to be out in the fresh air). Our sense of humor is critical to our mental well being and in response to both working from home, we have developed an imaginary co-worker (Ragnar) who is a total pain in the ass. Every glass left on the countertop, every light left on, every door left open is Ragnar’s fault. I know, it isn’t much, but it keeps us laughing and not complaining about each other.

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or here

We should have been in Houston this week. If you do not recall, we were heading to Houston as the last of our one-week trips to someplace warm (or at least out of Chicago) over the ). Sue’s brother lives there and the grand plan was to show up for her niece’s birthday and catch an early season Mets game (so before they were officially eliminated from the postseason (damn Yankees fan)). The quarantine put an end to that trip.

Sue has a trip scheduled with another niece to Italy to celebrate her high school graduation. That trip is planned for the end of May, but, alas, we both expect that they will need to postpone that until who knows when.

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Or even here…

Finally, our trip to Alaska in July is also looking uncertain. Even if we are granted parole from this quarantine, it seems unwise to board a ship with thousands of other people many of whom may or may not have been quarantined. Who knows if they could still be carriers, which makes it seem especially unwise as we were planning to travel with my mother, who is over 80.

So there we go, or there we don’t go. Whatever. We are shifting our thoughts from our travel plans to our attempts to recover the amounts we have already committed to these trips and sighing heavily for the trips not taken and the fun not had.

I hope this doesn’t come off as complaining. It is a bit, but we are grateful that we are all well and looking forward to the simple joys of seeing our friends, eating out, and being able to find toilet paper at the grocery store.

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or watching this sunset.

Road Trip!

The summer is soon upon us and we are thinking about getting in the car and driving. The Saab is still in good shape (for a 13 year old car) and so we are getting into planning mode. As Sue told you in her last post, I have started a new job where, horrors of horrors, they actually expect me to show up and work. Not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to this. But, I have now been there 2 weeks so it is time to explain to them that every summer I need to be on the road for (hopefully) 3 weeks.

This year, we have to be in Boston in late July for a wedding, so our thought is to drive there via Canada. The outline of the plan is to head for Montreal via Toronto, then to Quebec City to see three great Canadian cities. Then drop south into Maine and visit Acadia National Park. After we hang out with the blue bloods in Bar Harbor (pronounced Bah Hahbah) for a few days, will set our sites on Boston for the wedding.

Thank you SomeEcards for capturing my sentiments perfectly.

While in Boston, we will (hopefully) have time to go to Fenway (and lustily root AGAINST the Red Sox). From Beantown, we will head to the Big Apple (home of the Yankees–the greatest baseball team EVER (he is delusional) and Sue’s team–the Mets!!!!!!!), because we both love that city. From New York, it is pretty much a straight shot westward across Pennsylvania, Ohio & Indiana until we get back home to the Windy City. All in, about 2,500 miles and 42 hours of driving. Sue would to go to Nova Scotia from Quebec City, but that will add another 700 miles and 10 hours of driving, so we will see.

All in, I figure it is a 20-day trip, give or take. That assumes a minimum of 2 days in each city and no driving days of more than 6 hours. We haven’t really started to do the nuts and bolts planning (hotels, what we want to see, odd ball places to stop, etc.–ahem, who’s going to watch that giant beast of a dog?), but I think we will probably start that pretty shortly–once I ask for the time off…

Opening Day!

The spring has arrived. I know this, not because it has stopped snowing in Chicago, but because baseball season has arrived. As Josh & I continue our tour of stadiums, we are attending opening weekend at Chase Field in Phoenix. Number 18 on our tour. We decided to attend the first two games of the year.

Chase Field

For those of you who do not remember or know, I am a die-hard Yankee’s fan while Josh follows the Atlanta Braves. Usually, we would be particularly vested in rooting for either team, but the Diamondbacks were playing the Red Sox, so I was working hard to help them win. The two greatest things in baseball? The Yankees winning and the Red Sox losing.

The first game of the season is always a somewhat special, the stadium is all decked out, both teams are introduced, and awards are presented. Friday’s match up was Porcello (Red Sox) vs. Godley (Diamondbacks) and was a slugfest…for the Diamondbacks. They jumped out to a 14-1 lead by the end of the 6th and it was all over after that. Boston scored a bunch of late runs, but the game was never in doubt. The one great thing about the game
other than a true beat down of the Red Sox with tons of Red Sox fans
is that we got to see a position player pitch. Eduardo Nunez, a former Yankee who now plays for Boston, pitched. This is the first time we have seen that.

Saturday morning we decided to go to Taliesen West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture school in Scottsdale. The tour took about an hour and was very interesting. They explained lots of his philosophy and how he used the shape and size of space to both move people and create a spaces for people to stay.

Saturday night we went to a second Diamondbacks/Red Sox Game. This one was much closer. The starting pitchers were David Price for Boston and Luke Weaver for Arizona. The score was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th and we were thinking there would be extra innings. However, Eduardo Escobar got a single and then reached 2nd on a passed ball. Alex Avila singled to right and Escobar turned the corner and headed home, but was thrown out at home on a beautiful play by Boston. Avila reached second on the throw. Chris Kelly singled to left and brought Avila home for a walk off single! Great ending to a great baseball weekend.

6 weeks – 4 trips

I have a busy few weeks ahead: four trips scheduled in the next 6 weeks.

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA uptown cityscape.The week after next, I am deserting Sue and travelling to Charlotte, NC, for a business trip. I leave Sunday night and return home Thursday night. I would like to tell you that I really like the city of Charlotte, but truth be told, our offices are outside of the city and so I have never been downtown. I am not sure how many of you have been on business trips, but I do not find them particularly fun.  The routine is pretty simple, have breakfast and bad coffee at a generic hotel, go to the office early, spend all day working, back to the hotel for a couple of hours, dinner either alone or with some colleagues at a random restaurant, back to the hotel to work for a few more hours, watch “The Daily Show” & “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” go to sleep then rinse and repeat.

I arrive back from Charlotte on Thursday afternoon, spend Friday doing my laundry and packing for the next trip. Saturday morning, we leave for our spring break trip to Costa Rica.  We have booked the flights, hotels and many of the day trips, so those are all taken care of.  In the next week or so, we will look at the map and plan the driving portion of the trip, but I will leave that for another post.

chasefieldWe return from Costa Rica on Sunday, March 31.  On the following Thursday, I am once again abandoning my lovely wife to head to Phoenix with my son, Josh.  We are going to the home opening weekend of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Abi:  that is baseball –yay sports!).  We have tickets for two games, Friday, their home opener, and Saturday.  They are playing the Boston Red Sox.  We hope to see Zack Greinke and Chris Sale pitch.  One more stadium off the tour list.

Two weeks later, Sue and I are going to my sister’s house in PA for the weekend.  The entire extended family will be there.  My sister, her husband and all four of her kids; my brother, his wife and three kids; my mother, son and his wife; and potentially some of the other kids’ partners will all be there. We are not a quiet family, so there will be a ton of noise and general madness. It is always great fun.

After we return from PA, it is a quick 6 weeks or so and school is done.  I guess we need to start planning our summer trip…

 

 

Getting through the Winter

Major Winter Storm Pounds Chicago Area
Chicago

I hate the winter.  Chicago is cold, windy, gray, and snowy. I am miserable from the beginning of November until the spring comes…in July. This year, I have been particularly miserable; I am not really sure why, it hasn’t been very cold, there has been almost no snow and while it has been very gray, the wind doesn’t seem so bad.  But I am still miserable (and I suspect the other one will tell you that I am also insufferable—I don’t have to say it, because he already did).

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Los Angeles

So, my plan is this —go no more than 4 weeks between leaving town—even if just for a weekend. We were in Florida over winter break.  I soaked up some sun and my misery lifted. However, it is now mid-January and I can feel the pull of warm weather. Last weekend, I took the plunge and booked flights to LA for early February. My daughter lives out there, which seems like a good excuse to visit. I figure 4 days of California sunshine will see me through February.

We have a trip to Costa Rica booked for the end of March, but that will

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Costa Rica

be seven—long, dark, cold, and windy weeks after I get back from LA. I think I might need to find somewhere else to go for a weekend. Sue doesn’t have any time off, so it will be hard for the two of us to go anywhere during that time, but I will see what I can come up with. Maybe wrangle a work trip to Charlotte for a few days?  In April, I have two trips. My feelings about this man are darkening.

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Arizona

First, Arizona for opening weekend of the Diamondbacks with my son as we continue our tour of baseball stadiums. I love going to the opening weekend of baseball season. It is absolute confirmation that winter may end sometime in the next four months. Then, we are heading east to PA for a family visit.  While it doesn’t seem like it should be much warmer, I always think it is (and I am sticking with that story —don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up).

That should hold me over to May.

And…hopefully…May will bring warm weather!

It Was a Busy Few Days

milwaukeeLast weekend, as I have previously written, was a baseball weekend with Josh.  On Friday night, we went to Milwaukee and had great seats.  We sat in the third row just off to the third base side of home plate.  We were so close, we could almost reach out and touch the guys in the on deck circle.  The Brewers beat the Giants 4-2.  The game was fairly uneventful until the top of the 9th inning when the Giants’ catcher (Nick Hundley) and manager (Bruce Bochy) were both tossed from the game because they were arguing balls and strikes.  This is the first time on our tour that someone got tossed from the game.  The other interesting thing was that scoreboard showed a batters OPS rather than his batting average.  I didn’t care for it, but I guess I am a dinosaur.  The roof stayed open all night.

chisoxSaturday we went to see the White Sox at Comiskey  err, I mean Guaranteed Rate Field. (Really?  Only the White Sox could manage to move away from US Cellular Field as their name and find a worse one.)  The temperature was 68 degrees, but there was a bitter wind blowing off the lake.  We sat four rows behind the Angels’ dugout.  Trout clobbered two home runs and Ohtani, who was DH’ing, went 2 for 4.  I was surprised at how tall Ohtani is; he is as tall or taller than Trout.  The game was close until the top of the first when Angels’ scored three runs.  The White Sox put up one in the bottom of the first to keep it respectable.   The Angels put up another three in the third and we pulled out our forks because the Sox were done.  In the 9th, the Angels put up another 6 runs to make the final score 12-2.  Ohtani scored one of those runs by coming home on a wild pitch.  The play was close, but he was safe.

While I love to travel with Sue, traveling for work is less enjoyable.  I had a couple of trips this week.  On Sunday afternoon, I drove down to Indianapolis for a Monday morning meeting.  I came home Monday afternoon and then back out to Minnesota on Tuesday night.  I flew to Minneapolis then drove about 2.5 hours southwest to a small town.  I arrived at 9:10 pm and found out that all the restaurants in town were closed by that time.  Oh well, no dinner.  I had meetings all day on Wednesday and then retraced my steps to Minneapolis for an 8 pm flight home.  Back in the house at about 10:30 pm.  A long couple of days of no-fun work travel.