February 8th/9th, 2020 – Day 1: Flights Over and Arrival!

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

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Yeah there is!!!

After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!

I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.

The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.

I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.

We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.

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That’s Willie Lanier by the window!

I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.

We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.

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Oliver North on the airport train in Atlanta airport; he’s in the blue suit partially covered and not the one in red pants

The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).

Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!

Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.

To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!

The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.

From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!

At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.

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Our transportation – the Clio

We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.

It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.

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Thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.

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The Western Hotel in Galway, Ireland

Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!

We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.

Until tomorrow…

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.

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Fort at Köln, Germany train station

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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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.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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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.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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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.

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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:

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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

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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.

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City Center Near Our Hotel – Brussels, Belgium

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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.

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Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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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.

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Waffle Stand in Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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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.

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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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!

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Luxembourg -Train Ststion in Center

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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!

September 24th, 2017 – Back Home After a Great Week Away!

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

I just got home and got my clothes and other things put away.

It was a long drive, and fairly uneventful since it is interstate almost the entire way. But, of course I had to make a side trip.

At Anaconda I stopped at the rest area and decided to drive MT 1, the “Pintler Veterans Memorial Highway”. It snakes west through Anaconda (hahaha) and after a while turns north and hits the interstate again at Drummond. It was a really scenic drive and really shows Montana as I imagine it. It goes through the Pintler Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

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Highway MT-1, west of Anaconda, MT

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Highway MT-1, west of Anaconda, MT

As I got closer to Drummond cars were slowing down and stopped on the highway. A truck had a sign that said “Cattle Drive” in big letters. It has been many years since I have seen a cattle drive and it is a neat thing to see. You just don’t see this every day.

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Cattle Drive near Drummond, MT on MT-1

It feels good to be back home, but just in the sense it feels good to be out of the truck and not driving. It was a great trip. I got to visit family most importantly. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen walking around in Mount Revelstoke National Park and drove through Glacier National Park (the Canadian one). I finally got to eat at Tim Horton’s. More than once, too. I got to stay in a giant suite for cheap. A great adventure it was!

Next weekend I will be off for another adventure. I’ll let you know after I get there where that will be, but I already know where I am going. I am thinking I might take the Scotty Hilander with me, but now that I am off weekends going places on a Friday is a pain in the ass with all the traffic so we will see how that turns out. I may have to rough it in a hotel.

This Week’s Journey…

Adventure, food, Outdoors, pictures, Travel

I saw this sign on a side street as I pulled into town:

The Western end of U.S. 20 - Newport, OR

I just might have to do this one too!

Yep, my training was five horrid days spent on the ocean in Newport, Oregon. Man, what a beautiful place this is. Gorgeous ocean views and lots of food choices.

I came down the interstate and turned off where Siri told me. It ended up being a nice drive through small towns on a blue highway. Definitely a worthwhile drive if you are heading down this way.

I passed one place that caught my eye. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum you really cannot miss driving past. There’s a Boeing 747 sitting out front in the yard. Looking it up as I write this post, I find out that it is the home of the Spruce Goose – Howard Hughes’ famous plane. Gotta go back there and see it.

Next door is the Wings and Waves Waterpark. Apparently, one of the waterslides goes through another 747 parked on the rooftop. Wow. I bet that is pretty cool. Too bad I cannot ride that stuff any longer or I’d be all over that.

I enjoyed spectacular views the last 30 miles or so along U.S. 101 before getting to Newport. The coast is so pretty along here – rugged and impressive, with beautiful sunsets. In this area alone I saw numerous State Parks and plenty of places to park the trailer. It would be a great trip and I know it is one that many people have made due to the scenery.

My hotel was nice and I would stay there again. I was at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport. It is in a pretty convenient location but not too much for views. Rooms were clean and nice, staff was friendly, a great breakfast bar, pool, hot tub…I suffered the entire week.

The weather was nice almost every day and the one day it WAS bad, of course, we had to be out in it for training. It was a great trip and the training was very helpful in many ways. I even aced my test! It was hard being indoors sitting in class for 3½ days. I am glad to be back home and I can get back outside daily to do my job.

As far as dinners, I ate some really good food. The restaurants that have links I have linked to their websites and the one you will have to be happy with a Yelp link. I usually check Yelp for food recommendations and follow the ratings pretty closely. I don’t want to give my money to a place with bad service or food. So here we go:

I walked to the Rogue brewery and had my usual brew – a stout – and some food, which was short rib poutine. It was pretty good and quite filling even though I thought the portion was a bit small. It was a little more stout than my usual Guinness but it was a good beer. They have quite a selection and a cool industrial atmosphere.

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Me at the Rogue Brewery

The next night I went to Local Ocean Seafoods. I was looking for a dive but decided to try this one. It is really not my type of restaurant but it never hurts to try something new. I ended up with lingcod tacos. They were really tasty and the fish was local caught. It was cooked perfectly and the pico was fresh and delicious.

The scenery here was nice and the smells of the ocean were wonderful – fishy and salty air – that I enjoyed with every step along the boardwalk. It was great to be back near the water once again.

Bridge in Newport, ORSeal Docks - Newport, OR

I also walked to the South Beach Fish Market. Just what I love – a dive. Real down-to-earth  food that was fresh and fantastic. I got the clam strips and fries and they were nothing less than delicious.

Every Bit as Good as it Looks

Every Bit as Good as it Looks

The red stuff on the side was their own homemade cocktail sauce. They warned me it was spicy and they were not joking. It was straight horseradish with a dash of red color it seemed. Opened up my sinuses! It had a great flavor though and you know how spicy can be addictive…

As I said previously I really like the dive-type places. It’s not the prices, since dive food can be trendy and spendy in some places. It’s the atmosphere and the “realness” of the food; the “working-class” aspect of it. The South Beach Fish Market was just that as you will see if you click on the link and look at the pictures and the menu. It reminded me of the first place like that I went to in Rhode Island for seafood 30 years ago – clam fritters and fish and chips in an old converted house on a small rise looking over the Atlantic. Watching “No Reservations” for many years probably fed into my becoming somewhat a foodie and liking these types of places as well.

I also went to a place called Thai Elephant. I was tempted to go back to the South Beach Fish Market again, but I wanted to have Thai food and have something different after two straight nights of seafood (yeah…like THAT’S a problem!). They served Thai food. Surprise! I ordered my usual pad Thai with Chicken, and I also had an interesting appetizer called “Bikini Shrimp”. Oh man…

Bacon and Shrimp...What's Not to Love?!?!

Imagine if you will, shrimp wrapped with bacon and deep fried, served with a mildly sweet sauce that may have been fish sauce. There were seven of these tasty morsels to an order. The pad Thai was excellent as well and a generous portion so I left quite full.

The trip back home was north on the Oregon coast, heading from Newport to Astoria to head home. It is such a beautiful drive and I cannot wait to bring the trailer back down and spend time here leisurely driving the coast and staying along the way. It is easy to see why it is such a busy highway.

Speaking of that, if you are on a highway like this and you are holding up traffic for miles please pull over! I got stuck behind someone from another state pulling a trailer 35 MPH in a 55 zone for over an hour – possibly two. Some of us need to get places so have some courtesy.

It was a gray, misty, and beautiful drive and I got to see some new sights. I had one last meal on the road this trip at a place I stumbled across on 101 that has been around for quite some time called The Pronto Pup.

The Pronto Pup - Rockaway Beach, OR

I got a spicy one with fries, which was a chorizo corndog and it was delicious. Not overwhelmingly spicy but definitely chorizo. It was a large chorizo before it was battered and was very filling with the fries. The interior has been renovated, but a classic and a must-do!

Across the street were some railroad tracks. These paralleled 101 for several miles and earlier I saw an old steam locomotive on it. Waiting for my order I heard it so I went out and took a picture .

Steam Train - Rockaway Beach, OR

Looks like one more thing I will need to go back and do in the area! I like trains and have ridden a few old steam trains. If you really think about it, trains have never really changed since they were invented and that’s pretty fascinating.

Well, off to bed. It was a long drive and a long day.

We’ll be chatting again soon! Write if you need to!