Monday, December 05, 2011

Second cross-country road trip in 2011: Day 5 (St. Louis)

Although the drive from Oklahoma to Missouri was fairly uneventful, we did take time to stretch our legs. Tobzilla was happy to be in Missouri, or maybe just happy to have plenty of green grass to take care of his business.

We drove through the state all the way to St. Louis. Allie has never been to St. Louis before. My first time here was actually back in June of this same year. We dropped off Tobzilla at a nearby Petsmart to be sitted for a few hours while Allie and I had a date night to ourselves for the first time on this trip.

We dined at Zia's on The Hill. Located in a quiet Italian neighborhood of St. Louis, simply called The Hill, this restaurant was a pleasant surprize. Eating almost nothing but junk food for most of our road trip, good Italian food was a welcome change from all the fast food we had been consuming throughout much of our journey. Overall, the food was very good. (See Yelp for my full review.)



Our hotel was The Cheshire. This is a "British author themed" hotel with rustic atmosphere, yet modernized appeal within the rooms. The bonus is that this hotel is very pet friendly. They even provide Beggin' Strips, doggie bowls, doggie bed and other amenities for your dogs. (Only the Beggin' Strips is complimentary. Everything else should be treated as belonging to the room.) The Cheshire is a comfortable place to rest your head. The only drawback are the old style windows which let a lot of heat escape the room. This means you'll need to keep the heater running on cold evenings. That's not bad for the guess, per se, but it is wasteful when taking the entire hotel into account. Overall, I recommend staying here if you are in the St. Louis area.

Allie, Tobzilla and I visited the Gateway Arch later in the evening. Though the weather was clear, the temperature was very cold. We took a few photos, then quickly left to return to our cosie hotel room.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Second cross-country road trip: Days 3 and 4

These two days was occupied by watching the landscape change from pine forests to sparsely sthrubbed desert, and from hills and mesas to nearly completely flat land. One surreal aspect of driving across America is the straight highways that extend off to the horizon.

We spent one night at a good hotel in Albuquerque, but a shady place in Oklahoma City. It's hard picking good places when you don't know the area.

In general, New Mexico is a beautiful state. Oklahoma is a state that does not really mirror that image presented in the movie by the same name.

The weather has been great. Day 3 had gorgeous and sunny skies, while day 4 had a very thin cloud layer for a pleasant break from the sun beating down on us all day as we drove.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Second cross-country road trip 2011: Day 2


Though I'm never likely to end up in Lake Havasu (Arizona) ever again, this is a beautiful place where I would've liked to spend more time. Allie and I got up early to get back on the road in order to get to the Grand Canyon with enough remaining daylight to enjoy the Grand Canyon.


The drive from Lake Havasu to the Grand Canyon was a short four hours with a couple of stops (mostly for our little dog). As you drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from the direction of I-40, the land offers no clues as to the huge hole in the ground just a bit to the North. In fact, there is very little clue as you park at the South Rim's visitor center. There's no clue as you walk along the paved trail from the parking lot. There's only the slightest hint as the North Rim becomes visible over the trees. The full impact isn't realized until you are at the rim and look from East to West, and then nearly straight down. It's really true that photographs do not do justice to the Grand Canyon. Nothing really prepares you for the awe you'll experience when you first see it for yourself.




The Grand Canyon is pet friendly. Although my dog did seem to appreciate some aspects of the canyon, he was most interested in every single bush we walked past.

Our hotel was surprizingly good. I originally had booked with another hotel, but cancelled when they hung up on me three times in a row when I was trying to confirm my reservation. I'm glad I cancelled. The Grand Hotel turns out to be the best choice, not just for pet friendliness, but for general comfort and cleanliness.

We will very likely be back to the Grand Canyon some day to experience more of its wonders.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second cross-country road trip 2011: Day 1

My second cross-country road trip across America is under way. Not only is this my second time, this is my second time this year! This time, I am travelling with my wife and my little dog too.
Due to the time of year, we had to avoid the heart of the Rockies, opting to drive through Arizona. The first day was a long 10 hours from Silicon Valley to Lake Havasu. We made a lot of stops, mostly cuz of my dog being restless during his very first road trip.
Sometimes it is easy to forget how big California really is. It takes many hours to leave the state from the Coastal regions.
We didn't make any stops to see anything. The goal was to get to Lake Havasu as quickly as possible to have a good nights sleep so we'd be able to take off early enough to enjoy the the Grand Canyon the next day.
Our hotel in Lake Havasu was beachside, but we didn't really have time to take advantage of that.
We did stop off at London Bridge (and got to drive over it twice). I didn't see any World War II damage marks on it, but didn't really have time to look all that closely. It was already nighttime when we arrived.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My wife asked to see proof

So, the reason for my previous posting about crows is this.  Allie doesn't like birds.  In particular, she dislikes crows and wishes ill will upon them.  A few days ago, there was a murder of crows outside of her parents home.  When she drove up, the crows didn't get scared off, but rather just moved out of the way of her car.  This freaked her out.  When she related this ominious tale to me, I jokingly told her that was a good thing, and that crows are a sign of good health.  She asked me to provide an online link to prove this.  So, I added the article to my blog and sent her the link.  I was amused.  She was not.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Casted Branches

I never thought I'd revisit this work, but I believe I've improved it substantially with a rough spot it used to have in the second verse.

Night's pale spirit dashes spiderwebs upon earth,
Like villains cast onto silver screens,
Lying without breath; but breathing, as wind affects,
To spook our children on All Hallows' Eve.

Creaks and cackles echo,
While creep jostles our own essence.
This imparts solace upon howling ghosts,
Who excape from Inferno's demented joy.

Clamoring so, and wailing,
Lost souls seek new abodes;
Haunting our windows as light upon memories;
Whisking about, agitated, frustrated...then night wanes.

Apollo rides out with his own cast of characters,
To sweep away specters and their weeps,
And comfort bring to little ones as they arise,
Oblivious to the crypts under tread.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Never order a Mojito on a plane

I had a particularly bad plane trip early this year. After multiple delays and cancellations, I was finally on my way home. Food was being offered complimentary on my flight, but not the alcohol, of course.

Looking at the food menu, I saw that Mojitos were offered. I let out a brief private chuckle at the very thought of a flight attendant trying to make a Mojito in flight. Mojitos are one of the most labor intensive cocktails, as they require crushing of mint leafs within the glass. How would any of this be accomplished on a plane? So, much to the surprize of others around me, I ordered a Mojito on a plane, just to see what I would actually get.

I was handed the following, along with the same plastic cup you get if you order soda or water.



My travel day had been particularly bad (more than most on the plane) so I give the flight attendant a quick sad story to convince him to throw in an extra Bacardi minibar bottle. A very small consolation for a very crappy day, but nice nonetheless.

That single shot of Bacardi and the bag of mint flavored lime juice was $11....and that's with me "mixing" the drink myself. Without the mint leafs, it would be debated that this was actually a Mojito at all. So, the moral of this story is to never order a Mojito on a plane.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Senseless Sunday: Now that tittle is heavy!



  1. A giraffe heart weighs about 24 pounds.


  2. Plastic sheaths at each end of a shoe lace are called aglets.


  3. The world's largest baseball bat is 120 feet long. It weighs 68,000 pounds.


  4. Pat Welsh was the voice of E.T. in the movie E.T. the Extra-terrestrial


  5. That dot over the lowercase j and i is called a tittle.

Google's Gumby tribute on the 90th birthday of Art Clokey 10-12-2011 (beat)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Two: saves lives, makes lives

Sipuleucel-T is new treatment from Dendreon that uses the body's own immune system to fight prostate cancer. Each dose is personalized by consisting of the patient's own immune cells that have been trained to seek and attack prostate cancer cells.

Who knew this was even an issue. Broken lobster traps sometimes break free from tethers and wash up on beaches and riverfront properties in Maine. Too expensive and bulky to haul off, Kim Boehm created the Trapzilla as a convenient way to compact the traps to a manageable size.



Epoch fail


The Wedding Countdown Bra puts a clock on a bra to let....well, I'm not really sure what the countdown supposed to encourage. It signifies the countdown to when the wedding ring is placed on the wearer's finger. Ironically, press vidoes and images all show the model with an engagement ring instead. Nothing says "Marry me!" more than a countdown to wedding bells attached to a bra.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Roaming around Boston on the last fair weather weekend of the year

Late last week, I decided to do something to enjoy what some were calling the last great weather weekend of the year in New England. So, while others decided to go see the changing Autumn foliage, I went the oppose route, heading into the heart of Boston.

Not wanting to drive around the city, finding parking spots, paying multiple parking fees, dealing with the traffic, etc, I decided to give mass transit a try. The Commuter Rail ride from Southborough was comfortable. In about an hour, it got me to South Station. From there, Dewey Square was just across the street. This gave me a chance to check out the Occupy Boston camp-in protest. There's a lot of people, but the event is not a big as one might think.


After walking around a bit to explore the surrounding area, I decided to get lunch at Sorelle. The day was so nice, I went for a quick margarita at the outdoor bar in the brand new restaurant at the Russia Wharf. I don't remember the name right now. It has a great view of the inlet.

After that, I rode the T subway to the Museum of Science at Science Park. It's a fairly large museum with a lot of interactive displays and several shows. Some areas are for adults, but much of it is a glorified play land for kids (which isn't a bad thing for the kids).


I then walked over to Charleston and Bunker Hill. Foolishly, I decided to walk to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, all 294 spiraling steps! The view of Boston from the top was great.

Next stop of Chinatown, so called. It's really just a city block or two. There's a few Chinese style restaurants, but just as many Vietnamese places too. The topper is that there's a McDonald's, two Starbucks and two Dunkin Donuts as well. Yes, TWO! So sad.

However, I did stumble upon my second news item of the day. Sirens where everywhere in Boston. It turns out, they where all heading down to Beach St. in Chinatown. A large chunk of bricks fell off several floors from the facade of a parking garage. They smashed up a car below, damaged some businesses across the street and injured one person who was taken to the hospital.



After that, I headed home, back on Commuter Rail to Southborough. On the drive back to my place, I stopped of to get some ice cream. Massachusetts is a strange place. It's winter about 1/3 of the year, and cold much of the rest, yet there are ice cream parlors (out door window service) almost everywhere, especially in the middle of nowhere! I'm not really sure why they are called parlors if there is no actual entry, but hey, who am I to argue with a great tasting treat on a warm Summer...er...Autumn evening. Anyway, Ulhman's Ice Cream Parlor was a good capper to a great day of exploration.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bricks fell from several stories up in Boston, injuring one person,damage too


Here's the photo close-up the bricks that smashed the car, injuried one person and busted windows in shops across the street today on Beach St. in Chinatown, Downtown Boston!

Aftermath of parking garage brick falls several floors in Boston on Beach St. in Chinatown

Sirens everywhere in Boston today, and I didn't know why until I stumbled upon this. Bricks from a parking garage facade fell on to Beach St. in downtown Chinatown, injurying on person (sent to the hospital) and smashing a car and shop windows across the street.

Only in Amish land

Leave it to an Amish splinter group to conduct home invasions where they only steal hair, seriously!


Amish Men's Beards Cut Off; Police Suspect Amish-On-Amish Violence