December 30th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I had to go do a curbside pickup for a few things this morning and while in town I decided to go ahead and get my bike helmet purchased. The supply and color selection was limited but I was not waiting another day and I am glad to have that taken care of so I can ride. Even though it is supposed to rain, it was sunny for a time this morning after I got back but then the clouds blew in and it looked like rain so I could not get out today. I got the dog out for a quick hike of the leg (his) and there was some light precipitation falling. I woulda gotten wet, and that’s no big deal, but it isn’t really good for an e-bike to get wet. Perhaps the weather will have a break over the next few days (despite the forecast) and I can go for a spin on it.

I was looking at some maps to look at how far it is to some places I want to go on the bike and how to get there. Most of those places are within 11-12 miles of where I am living. That is well-within the range on my e-bike even if I would be using only the electric motor and not pedaling (which I am gonna pedal). Almost all of that is on trails and backroads so no major traffic to deal with. For now it is only a Class II bike (top speed 18 mph) so I can ride it on sidewalks (if I wanted to), but when I get to the point I want to go faster and use it as a Class III (top seed 28 mph) it will be only to ride on the street (and anything above that is considered a motor vehicle and treated as such). I suggest if you get an e-bike check local and state laws before you get one and see what the laws are where you live or want to ride. I have learned a lot about the laws and you can get into trouble and be fined/ticketed for being in the wrong place. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to know the laws. Don’t whine if you get busted.

I need to figure out something with the dog on biking adventures, but I think the first couple trips will be just me so I can get used to the bike; I don’t really want to mess with holding a leash while figuring it out. I gotta get him a dog pack and water bottle for adventures. I can run him up and down the driveway with ]out a leash to see how he will respond but I just don’t think he is ready for that yet.

I got a special new-customer promotion on another meal plan called EveryPlate so I signed up for the discounts then I will pause it as needed. They also have a link to give to people so (DISCLAIMER) if you click on this you get a $20 credit and so do I. It looks to be just like all of the other meal plans you see advertised and there are some very interesting recipes, especially in the pasta section (which I am trying to cut back on). I have a few days until the meals get here from the two different meal kit places so I have some time to eat more food out of the freezer and free up some containers.

I know for New Year’s I will be staying home like all my friends are doing, avoiding gatherings and staying well. I might grab a carton of Guinness to bring home to toast but not much else. I am still not drinking much Tito’s or Grey Goose these days, but I don’t really think much about it. There will be no driving anywhere after dark (if even at all) with the annual New Year’s Eve Amateur Night taking place on the roadways. We’ll see if I even stay awake until midnight!

Speaking of adult beverages, I was thinking a while back that I really have not had much wine the last several months. I like a nice wine and craft beers due to the talent it takes to make some really good ones of both. I did get to the point where it was nice to have a glass or two with a good meal, but since it is just me I have to drink it all myself in two or three nights (at most) so it doesn’t go bad. I will have to grab a bottle or two to go with my meal kit meals.

That is about all for now.

✌🏼

December 27th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night and today is a slack day. Well, it started out to be one but I ended up rearranging the kitchen a little. I took out my toaster oven since I have both a toaster and a convection microwave. That freed upon some space so I put the Nespresso over in its place. There is a big drawer to put coffee in but I can put my coffee cups in there. I still want to get a set of espresso cups and have also been looking at a pod storage drawer that goes under the Nespresso. That would free up the drawer space in the cabinet to put the coffee and coffee accessories (thanks, Hank..Ha ha ha).

After that I had to do some sweeping but I wanted to wipe the counters down before I did and pick it all up at once if there was anything that fell. It’s not that I am a slob; my countertops are fake granite and it hides stuff pretty well plus there is dog hair. The heat is radiant built into the concrete floor so there is no air circulation. The means I have to sweep every day at least once. I’ll get my dehumidifier and air filter in here at some point and that will help with dust and the dog hair (even after I brushed him).

I still have not gotten a bicycle helmet yet. I have had other things going on that I needed to do, plus crowded stores means I was not going to the store until after the holidays. I have been fine with that since I have been busy but I will get out in the next few days to see about getting one. I would really like to ride the bike! The pavement has been a bit damp, so that means slippery and I don’t care to do that with or without a helmet.

Even though I haven’t been doing any biking yet, I am still dedicated to getting in a good amount of walking every day and I should start seeing some benefits from that soon. I think I am even wearing out the dog! We went out several times earlier and he was walking a bit slow the first time for some reason so when we got to the driveway I took off running and he perked right up.

I am getting a grocery list together and I am finally gonna get the ingredients to try to make a cottage pie. It doesn’t look that hard so I hope this recipe turns out. Luckily I have most of the ingredients and don’t need to buy more than a few things. I am also getting the stuff to make a fruit pie. Actually, I am buying frozen pie crust and gonna use frozen berries to make the filling from scratch. Last time I bought a can of pie filling it was almost $4 and the can was mostly goo and not much fruit. Not doing that again. Eventually, when I get ambitious, I will try to make the whole pie from scratch.

I remember when I was a kid one of my grandmas made the best apple pie in the world. She would slice up the apples and toss in the spices and sugar, spread some out in a pie pan, and freeze them. When she was ready to make a pie, all she had to do was whip up a crust – which she could do from scratch in about 17 seconds. She would take a pan with filling out of the freezer, pop it out of the pan, toss the crust in, toss the fruit frisbee back in the pan, top crust it and toss that bad boy in the oven. She also used to make these incredible fried peach pies cooked in lard in a cast iron skillet. I want to learn how to make those peach pies and try some other fillings as well. Wish I had that recipe…oh well. I will see what I can find online when I am ready to tackle that.

Along with those fried pies, after I can learn to make a flaky crust I want to try baking a savory meat one like in the UK and Ireland. I have food in the freezer to eat while I experiment with recipes and I have plenty of time on my hands to expand horizons. The last few days I was able to free up some real estate in the freezer to store some new creations.

It’s nice to not have anything to do now, but I have to say that it is still odd having no place I have to be. The holiday rush came and went, appointments are taken care of and a few things were changed around in the house (a work in progress as needed). It is looking sunny tomorrow so I will be taking advantage of that with the chance of rain looming the few days after that.

That’s a wrap for today.

Europe – Day 9 – February 2nd, 2018: Luxembourg to Köln, Germany

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

Last night we decided that our next destination would be Köln (Cologne), Germany after some recommendations from the girl who helped us yesterday and my friend Kevin, who had been there before. We got up this morning and decided to skip going into central Luxembourg so we could get an earlier train to Germany.

We went downstairs and had a delicious complimentary hotel breakfast consisting of meats and cheeses, bread, yogurt, coffee and fruit. We are really enjoying these continental breakfasts here in Europe.

We made our way to the train station about 9:30 and got on the train to head out. We are getting pretty good about finding our way around for two guys who never really dealt much with public transportation before the trip started. I must say that Google Maps has helped quite a bit and help from the numerous strangers who have shared their knowledge along the way has been even better.

The trains are very smooth and they go everywhere. It is really an incredible system capable of mobilizing masses of people. They are smooth, quiet and comfortable and can get you virtually anyplace you want to go. The scenery is beautiful and it is really neat to see the little towns and villages in isolated areas.

6287CFFC-4569-43AE-8100-980D498ECC08

Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

F968CC79-0F25-4C28-A691-C6BC1BE5478B

Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

0D233B25-5EFD-4CD2-A965-3487485C27D4

Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

B6118210-90C1-49B1-9D39-14F500408717

Fort at Köln, Germany train station

A35BA204-E237-4EA0-81EB-713A25DF7EB0

Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

9BCE90BC-C407-4112-83E2-52D0AA9CF5EB

Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

777AADDC-2A66-4D53-93DC-8B464FA4090B

Köln Station – Köln, Germany

Along the way, just before Köln I saw something interesting that may be tied to family history. I saw a Winniger Winery along the tracks. Perhaps they are some distant relatives!

We stepped out of the train station to be overwhelmed by an incredible sight…the Köln Cathedral.

3D1E5242-6024-4533-8AD9-C1B3291053AB

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

931716B2-9A3A-461B-97CC-6AECD2BFAAD0

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

537A9096-8876-4B77-988A-DF4E55D7E48C

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

A47CBD57-5749-490D-A121-8EF4A1D2DD86

No way in hell I’d go up that ladder – Köln Cathedral in Köln, Germany

Words cannot describe the enormity and architecture of this building, and pictures cannot capture it – it must be seen to be believed and experienced. I could not stop looking at it the entire stay; the details of the details is just unbelievable. Gargoyles, statues, spires…it is really something to see. You cannot fathom what the inside of the place looks like. Think about this: this building started being built in the 1200s and wasn’t completed until the 1880s.

253F4790-E411-430B-A35A-22C61D8E9635

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

53F6FDC8-656B-4D94-B432-3948FBC2829D

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

62AD58D9-3BBA-430F-A7A4-27D37C751111

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

And the nighttime view from our hotel window inspired me to go for a walk…

D40CE0F8-3A15-4494-9230-37499EB1956F

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

4156CDE3-178A-472E-B4D3-2DCFC123EE33

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

3DF53ED6-6F1D-4478-8397-1E493D246BC3

Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

While out walking around I stopped for some local food (no surprise there!). I went to a shop selling a sandwich called a döner. It is a type of shawarma, except the bread was more of a crusty/chewy pita that was split and filled with delicious goodness.

D41AADB0-F9ED-4379-B41E-C6C1BE960AE5

A delicious late night snack called a döner – Köln, Germany

After, of course, I had to have dessert so I went by a bakery and grabbed this delicious item:

9FAE15AC-BF7D-4A2B-95CA-8153E36205D4

Oh, the Pastries!

Earlier in the day Jim and I had some curry wurst mit pommes frites. It was a very filling snack and carried us through for hours. I just find something that looks interesting to eat or something I have heard of and want to try. One caveat – no mayo, which is globbed all over several foods in Europe (especially frites).

Tomorrow morning we are off to our next destination. As I write this I cannot help but look at that magnificent cathedral…what an experience.

Europe – Day 8 – February 1st, 2018: Brussels, Belgium to Luxembourg

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

8D864D12-5AC7-42AD-BFD9-81FDA8BAAC9B

Statue near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

Our hotel was in a central area near downtown so the train stops were not very far apart for where we wanted to go. The area we were in was very interesting to see in the daylight. Most of the buildings were not what I expected – modern and minimalist. Function over form.

img_0412

City Center Near Our Hotel – Brussels, Belgium

img_0411

City Center Near Our Hotel – Brussels, Belgium

We cut across a botanical park and it was a very mice park. Even those things it was quite cool and blustery there were roses in bloom and I saw something familiar in Washington…rhododendrons!

The Grand Place, however, was what I expected in Europe and much, much more. Grand centuries-old buildings, ornate beyond belief. It was breath-taking to walk into a square hundreds of years old surrounded by some incredible architecture.

21B698E0-32A2-4346-B57A-702EFF800656

Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

3B896405-1742-413B-90D5-4B75D67FCA56

Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

5F3F46CE-DC9D-4B7C-B951-B26F278516BB

Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

89A3D29F-0B83-470E-8783-AE5BA13CCB93

Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

E21F1BB6-CA6F-40C8-84EF-8D78C409F8BA

Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

826C646A-92C8-4ED1-A64C-4B00D616C681

Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

Grand Place has been used as a gathering place for centuries. It is ringed with chocolatier shops and restaurants. It has been used as a public market and is a massive plaza.

5B9E679D-49B9-453A-BFF6-ABEBB0B0AEF0

Waffle Stand in Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

08293325-FDAA-4C5D-A6B5-0B008770F72F

Waffle Stand in Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

For breakfast we stopped by this waffle shop and grabbed something to eat. Jim got the white-and-milk chocolate churros (which were nothing like we are used to in the States). I got a waffle with cherries on top and a coffee. It was a great way to start the day in a gorgeous place.

We made our way to the train to head out to our next destination. We finally found the correct train platform but asked a local guy to make sure we were in the right place. He spoke very little English but a girl walked up to get on the train who spoke it and she helped us out.

We climbed aboard and settled in for a three hour train ride. We got to see some beautiful scenery on the journey – small villages, cities, rolling green hills, estates and vineyards.

08529466-FC6A-4450-B5B1-7D8C32A46472

On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

89834DF4-EC91-4682-8FD9-CD16EA6A2171

On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

A475074F-984B-45FE-8ED4-DDD76AFCDC6F

On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

73C8F700-4340-49DE-8627-A4A30209B976

On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

8B274437-1762-4989-A1AB-7AEE74593C83

On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

As we pulled into Luxembourg the girl that helped us out earlier came back and talked to us. We talked about our travels and she gave us some ideas. She even showed us to a hotel and helped us get checked in with Reception by speaking French. She also gave us some ideas for food and some things to see.

Unfortunately we did not get her name, but she really helped us out. In the odd chance she may see this at some point we would like to say “merci” from the two Americans you helped out. Best of luck with your law school!

C0B2FEC4-2A3A-4CEA-BBBC-D3206889E82A

Luxembourg -Train Ststion in Center

763EDB0C-5EAE-4455-98ED-29753772A4C9

Train Station – Luxembourg

We went out for food and took a stroll around. Tomorrow we’ll set an alarm to get an early start with sightseeing downtown then it’s back to the station to catch another train!