Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Las Vegas, Valley of Fire and Death Valley

Furnace Creek Ranch, where we stayed

I took this one-week tour last month. It started with two nights in Las Vegas, including most of a day at nearby Valley of Fire State Park. We then moved to Death Valley. We hiked every day.

I hadn't been in Las Vegas in more than 20 years, so I arrived early in the day. With the extra time, I walked to the Strip, of course, spending time at the Bellagio and then stopping in several other stores. Only when the tour group first got together that evening did I learn that we were to spend the next evening at the Bellagio!

The weather was not great while we were in Nevada. Much cooler than normal, often windy, and it rained off and on while we were at Valley of Fire Park.

Three photos from Las Vegas and two from Valley of Fire.

The weather was better in Death Valley, and we had lots of good hikes. 19 photos

Our bus driver had a cap with included spiky gray hair. I borrowed it for this photo:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dance and Doodles

(Click to enlarge the double image)

Specifically, Bill T. Jones dance and my doodles.

Recently, I was excited to see that Bill T. Jones was going to appear at the L.A. Central Library as part of the ALOUD series. As a Library Foundation member, I receive advance notice of these events, and I jumped to reserve a seat. The next day, I was dismayed to realize that I would be out of town on that date, and I reluctantly canceled my reservation.

Of course, he was in town because the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was going to be performing at UCLA that weekend. I would miss that, too. Sigh. (I've been a fan for many years, starting well before Zane died.)

But this reminded me about the last time I had seen the company, also at UCLA, some years ago. While watching one work (I don't remember what work), I had been struck by a sudden recognition: The movements reminded me of my doodling! I saw some of the same sharp twists, turns, and angles in both.

Link to a 2:32 video of the company in action.

Link to a selection of my doodles. (It's a l-o-n-g webpage, and it might be slow to load. Sorry about that. It's not quite what I wanted, but it's all I can manage using Google Sites right now.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Autographs - Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

(Click the image to enlarge it.)

I've been a big fan of Cory Doctorow and BoingBoing for a very long time. When I saw that he would be in L.A. at a convenient time and place, I put it on my calendar.

Although this book isn't one I would ordinarily purchase, especially since Doctorow puts all of his books online for free, I bought it to get the autographs.

And, despite thinking that I knew his work pretty well, I was still amazed at how quick-witted and wide-ranging he is as a speaker. Very entertaining.

(Index of autographs)

South Africa - Fall 2014

Africa, particularly South Africa, has been on my wish list forever. I thought we would go in 2013, but it got pushed into 2014.

We had a great time! Links to photos are below.

We were on a tour that included Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, wine tasting, the Garden Route, and, of course, safari. The safari portion was at Kariega Game Reserve.

The weather was temperate. It rained one afternoon and one night, and not at all on our game drives. Our time on Table Mountain was almost completely socked in by clouds, but we still spent an hour or so walking some of the trails on the mountain.

We ate some new food: ostrich steak, springbok feuilleté, and eland. All were tasty. The springbok feuilleté was excellent.

A canal in central Amsterdam

We also had a day in Amsterdam. (Link to more photos is below.) When I started planning this trip, I thought we would fly from Mexico to South Africa via South America. But there were few such flights, and they were pretty expensive. It was cheaper to fly via Europe. In particular, given the historical ties between Holland and South Africa, KLM had reasonably-priced non-stop flights from Amsterdam to Cape Town. I used mainly frequent flyer miles to buy our tickets from Mexico to Europe.

To break up the trip, and to overcome jet lag (Victor's biggest time change ever), and because Victor had never been to Europe, I scheduled a full day in Amsterdam. We spent most of the time in the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

More photos:

(View the photos individually to see the captions, although not every photo in the first and last groups is captioned.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Olympic Peninsula and Seattle - July 2014

At Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle.

Moss-covered trees in Olympic National Park.

More photos here.

This was another Road Scholar trip: "Naturally Magnificent: Washington State's Olympic Peninsula". I flew in a day early to spend some time in Seattle.

In Seattle, I started with a quick visit to the EMP Museum. I'm only a little into pop music, so I went through all that quickly. The fantasy and science fiction exhibits were mainly film and TV props, and I'm more into SF&F books.

Chihuly Garden and Glass was lots of fun. I was tempted to stay into the night to see things lit up, but that would have been quite late.

The next morning I went to the Seattle Central Library, which wasn't as striking as I expected. I finished my extra Seattle time in bookstores in Pioneer Square. In one that was going out of business, I asked about the price of a large Chihuly book I had seen the day before. The proprietor named a low price and threw in a Chihuly CD and a box of Chihuly notecards. I took the deal, adding extra weight to my suitcase.

The Olympic Music Festival program was very good. After that, it was all Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula. The weather was great - hot and dry. Most didn't like the heat and accused me of bringing the weather from Los Angeles. I loved the scenery. And once again, I didn't do enough walking.

Just before the trip began, the first legal recreational marijuana stores opened in Washington state. But that didn't work out for me. The two in Port Angeles hadn't yet received their licenses, and the one in Seattle sold out of everything in the first three days, and was closed for another ten days. Sigh.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Appalachian Trail - June 2014

More photos here. View them individually to see the captions.

After last year's Road Scholar trip to Oregon where I exercised too little, ate too much and put on a bit of unwanted weight, I spotted "Hike the Appalachian Trail in Four States" in which we would be hiking 6 to 10 miles every day. In addition, we would see Harpers Ferry, WV and Antietam National Battlefield.

I was worried about the weather, since I never hike when it rains. I chose the month of lowest average rainfall in the area. It did rain one evening, but it never rained while we were hiking. (On the hike in the afternoon before it rained, I heard distant thunder three separate times, and I sped up each time. That day, I was the first one to finish the hike!) I carried a raincoat in my backpack every day, but I never used it.

It was fun. As the photos show, my old hiking boots fell apart, forcing me to use my sneakers. And, also seen in the photos, I got scraped up when I fell once. And the trail was frequently very rocky. And there were quite a few hills to climb. And there were more flying insects than at home. But that was all minor; I enjoyed all the walking. I may look at more of these.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mexico City (Dec. 1985)

In December, 1985, I traveled with my friend Kieran Prather to Mexico City. Kieran had been there before, I had not. I stayed only a few days, Kieran stayed longer. I cannot find my photos of the trip.

It was three months after a severe earthquake had hit the city. There were many collapsed buildings and much re-construction work going on.

Kieran and I spent most days apart. I had to do the first-time visitor things, of course. I spent one day at Teotihuacan, one in and around the Zocalo, and most of another at the National Museum of Anthropology. We went to Coyoacán (I think!) for a holiday celebration and fireworks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Autographs - Luis Zapata

Luis Zapata's best known work is El vampiro de la colonia Roma (1979). The English translation (1981) is Adonis Garcia, A Picaresque Novel. I enjoyed it a lot.

My friend Kieran knew Zapata, and in December 1985, I went to Mexico City with him, and we stayed at Zapata's apartment in the Zona Rosa, while Luis stayed with his family for a few days.

Years later, I had Kieran get Zapata to inscribe a Spanish language copy of the book for Victor. I gave the book to Victor. He read it, then quickly lent it to an acquaintance, and it never came back. I was unhappy about losing an autographed book.

(Index of autographs)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A trick of memory

Walking in Debs Park with Princeton (last summer)

Sue, a childhood friend of Bruce Lemerise's, found my note about him and wrote to me Saturday afternoon. I replied early that evening, and she wrote me again Sunday afternoon.

After Bruce died, a friend and neighbor of his gave me some additional illustrations he had drawn. Now, for the second time in twenty years or so, I looked around for them unsuccessfully. I also looked for that neighbor's name. I thought her first name was Susan, but I couldn't be sure that I wasn't just being misled because this new correspondent was named Sue. I did find Bruce's address and phone number in an old phone directory of mine, but no mention of Susan.

Monday morning, I was walking in Debs Park with the neighbors' Great Dane, Princeton, as usual. After about 45 minutes, as we were headed back to his house, I had just glanced at my watch and noted that we were doing well on time, when an unusual three-syllable word popped into my head. As I mentally repeated it, I slowly realized it was probably a last name, and after a few more moments, I realized it wanted to go with "Susan". It took yet another couple of moments and mental repetition of the name before my full consciousness kicked in and I thought, "Wait a minute! Could that really be her name?"

Thirty minutes later, I'm finally back online. I discover that it almost certainly was her name. One of the four people with that name in New York state (still!) lives in the same building that Bruce lived in! And I get a phone number, too.

When we finally talked last night, we were both amazed to have connected. Susan will contact Sue, too.

The more I thought about how Susan's last name suddenly came to me, and my slow mental processing after it did, the more mysterious it all seemed!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

PanAm's First Moon Flights Club

(Click the images to enlarge them.)

As you can see, I was a charter member of PanAm's First Moon Flights Club.

Even before this, when I was a kid, I hoped to spend New Year's Day 2000 on the moon.