Category: Travel

I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping a journal when I travel on personal trips. I transcribe the journals into “Story” pages and then link to those stories here.

Dopplr Counts your Carbon

I’m not sure when they added this, but Dopplr has a new feature that keeps track of your carbon totals by month and year. For 2008, I’m already at 6,000 kilograms. I’ll bet I’m not in Optaros’ top ten. Hey, Optaros, in the spirit of Earth Week, how about making carbon offsets a reimbursable business expense for us road warriors?

I’m in Bucharest

I’m visiting the Optaros office in Bucharest this week. I thought I might get a respite from the Texas heat but it’s much hotter here than it is in Dallas right now.

Yesterday afternoon I took a stroll around Herestrau park and this morning I explored downtown (Here are a few pics).

Thoughts on Atlanta

There’s “busy” and then there’s “five-days-a-week-travel-for-a-project-with-a-hard-deadline-busy”. As is obvious by the dearth of posts it’s been the latter for me the last couple of months. Now that the project is over I thought I’d re-cap my thoughts on Atlanta, my temporary home-away-from-home…

  • MARTA is the only way to travel, especially between downtown and the airport. Departing Delta travelers can save time by checking their bags just as they exit the MARTA turnstyles rather than using the regular ticket counters in the terminal.
  • The bison burgers at Ted’s are delicious. You might think the chicken-fried chicken would also be good but you’d be wrong. You’re in a bison place–eat the bison.
  • Who knew? Chicken and waffles taste great together! Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles: Best. Cornbread muffins. Ever.
  • The Georgia Aquarium has whale sharks. Whale sharks! But go early–that place gets seriously busy during the day, especially on weekends.
  • In Little Five Points (or “L5P” if you’re into the whole brevity thing) has a great pizza place called Savage Pizza. The “white on white” was close to the ever-elusive “perfect white pizza” I’ve been searching for ever since enjoying one for the first time as a child on a family trip to Winter Park. Plus there’s at least three independent record stores within two blocks of the place.

Aside from the aggressive pan-handling, which is among the worst I’ve ever experienced, my only complaint is the whole sweet tea versus unsweet tea thing. I know Atlanta is a Southern City and serving pre-sweetened tea is part of the kitsch, but as an avid unsweet tea drinker, it’s a real pain. Every time you order unsweet tea it’s like you’re the first person that’s ever done such a thing. It really throws a kink in the works.
Me: “…and an unsweet tea, please.”

Server: “Sweet tea, you got it.”

Me: “No, unsweet. UN-sweet.”

Server: “UN-sweet?”

Me: “Yes, UN-sweet. Not sweet.”

[Server delivers the tea. I take a sip. My head snaps back in disgust.]

Me: “Sorry, this is sweet tea. I ordered UN-sweet tea.”

This scene replayed itself every 8 out of 10 tea orderings. I kid you not. Once, they actually filled my cup from the container marked, “Unsweet tea”, but someone had inadvertently filled the container itself with sweet tea, thus thwarting the server’s valliant effort at serving me correctly on the first try.

I tried to explain to the Atlanta-ites how crazy and inefficient it is to offer pre-sweetened tea. “Can’t they just let everyone sweeten it themselves?” I asked. Apparently they “brew-in the sweetness” and no one could possibly make it taste just right on their own.

So if you’re an unsweet (UN-sweet!) tea drinker, be sure to factor in some extra time for your lunch and dinner outings.

Kids proclaim last weekend as “Best camping trip ever”

We had perfect weather for camping last weekend. It was a bit sketchy at first. As we pulled out of the garage the sky grew darker and darker, ultimately devolving into a downpour complete with minor hailstones. The kids were engrossed in a flick, but Christy was worried. She had visions of a weekend zipped inside our tent with nothing to entertain ourselves but non-stop Go Fish and hardcore potty humor from me and the kids. But, as often happens, the storm cleared as suddenly as it began and turned into one of the prettiest days I’ve seen in a while.

Mineral Wells State Park is one of our favorite weekend camping spots. It is close to Dallas but not too close. Our campsite was on a small bluff with the lake and surrounding hills visible through the trees.

We made it through the weekend without serious mishap, although one was narrowly avoided. My son and I found a trail that wound down from our camp site to the water. We sat on the rocks with our feet in the cool water and ultimately decided that it would be a travesty if we didn’t jump in and swim for a while.

The still water was cool and deep. And how refreshing it was to be at a lake that isn’t surrounded by development or infested with swarming jet skis or obnoxious ski boats.

I couldn’t talk him in to venturing too far from the rocky shore. Although accidental, he did manage to get in up to his chin. “What’s the difference between this and the swimming pool?” I asked. “This has no sides!” he replied, which I guess is a pretty good point.

He decided to stretch out on one of the warm rocks at the water’s edge like a long, lanky lizard. I thought that looked like a decent idea so I started to climb out. What happened next was over pretty quick but it was one of those moments that plays out in your mind in stop-motion. I lost my footing on the sharp, slimy rocks and fell backwards towards the water. I prepared myself for the unseen pointed stick or rock that would surely break my fall in a most unpleasant way. The anticipated pain never came. The drop-off was steep enough that I did not get impaled on anything. I came out of the water laughing my ass off, but then noticed how narrowly I had escaped disaster. The rock I snagged with my left hand on the way into the water had knocked my wedding ring off. Thanks to an amazing stroke of luck (and my cat-like reflexes) I had unconsciously managed to snag it with my fingertips, saving it from a permanent home at the bottom of the lake and saving myself from a very, very long ride home with Christy.

My son thought this whole thing was hilarious, particularly when I showed him the green algae skid mark down my left side.

Other than that everyone made it through unscathed although my daredevil daughter had a few wipe-outs on her bike. No matter how well you think you explain it, I guess the physics lesson involving excessive speed, bicycle tires, sharp turns, and gravel is just something she insists on learning for herself.

By the way, if you make it out to Mineral Wells State Park, check ahead of time to see if there will be a night hike and sign up. We learned all sorts of cool stuff on the walk led by the Park Naturalist. It’s hard to beat a walk through the woods at night with the Milky Way shining and the screech owls calling.

Back from Hawaii

I’m back. Christy and I have been in Hawaii for the last two weeks celebrating our tenth anniversary. I kept a hand-written travel journal during the trip. I’ve transferred it to my blog. Here’s the index.

Day 1 — “Day 1, Kauai”
Day 2 — “Day 2, Kauai”. Helicopter ride.
Day 3 — “Day 3, Kauai”. Movie Tour.
Day 4 — “Day 4, Kauai”. Doing nothing.
Day 5 — “Day 5, Volcanoes National Park”. Short hikes, checked in to Volcano House.
Day 6 — “Day 6, Volcanoes National Park”. Kilauea Iki Crater trail, Petroglyphs, Lava flow.
Day 7 — “Day 7, Volcanoes National Park”. Hike across Kilauea caldera.
Day 8 — “Day 8, Kona”. Drive around the island. Checked in to Kona Tiki.
Day 9 — “Day 9, Kona”. Exploring Kona Coast. Manta Ray night dive.
Day 10 — “Day 10, Kona and Oahu”. Shopping in Kona. Checked in to Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu.
Day 11 — “Day 11, Oahu”. USS Arizona Memorial

So long D.C.

Ah, the last night in good ole D.C. Or should I say good ole Vienna/Tysons Corner/McLean? When I travel I like to get out and experience what the locals experience. This trip, that hasn’t been too enriching. Taco Bell. Panera Bread. Corner Bakery. Galleria. My training is in the back room of a CompUSA for crying out loud.

Me and a few classmates drove down to an Italian place for lunch. I was hoping it was a local whole-in-the-wall but it turned out to be a chain called Aledo’s or something like that. Calzone was good. Also, they gave a two-pack of Oreos for each person with the check which I found both strange and satisfying.