We’re on vacation. I really like the sound of that. I’m sitting on a couch in the living room of our rented townhouse on the beach on the Oregon coast, watching the fog slowly lighten as the sun begins to come up and listening to the waves roll in, as Li and Deb sleep off the effects of 800+ miles in the car.
Eastern Oregon @ 65mph: I had forgotten how pretty this part of the state can be...
This is our first real vacation since we got Li, and she traveled far better than we might have hoped: she did great in the car and although she took quite a bit longer to fall asleep, it lacked much of the drama of our “travels” the past few years. We stopped briefly in Boise to leave a huge bag of peaches for Deb’s folks and then made it as far as Ontario. We left Ontario after breakfast; I was reminded again of how pretty eastern Oregon (after Ontario) actually is. The rain started at The Dalles — intermittent rain, thankfully — but let up long enough for us just to get misted on at Multnomah Falls (pix coming). Heavy rain and heavy traffic through Portland (where “heavy” probably really means “light”, but you have to consider the source), and steady rain all the way to “home” on the coast.
Li saw and felt the Pacific Ocean yesterday evening for the first time. After a day and a half in the car, we grabbed a bite for dinner, found what passes for a grocery store in a tiny Oregon coast town, and then Li and I headed down to the water. It had rained all afternoon as we drove and was actually still raining when we arrived, but by the time we were done with dinner the rain had stopped and the fog had started rolling in… but we were determined we were going to the beach. Early evening, fog, surf, seagulls, and the two of us… and she laughed and giggled and ran from the waves and laughed when they caught us and washed the sand from under her feet as they slid back out.
“How big is it, Dad?” “Really big, Li; it goes all the way to China.” “Wow…”
I spent pretty much all of last week in Phoenix… yeah, I know: a week in Phoenix in mid-July — not a great idea, but also not my fault. I was there for a Federal conference associated with work. It was hot, like in the 115 degree F range. I’m not sure I’ve felt heat like that before, but truth be told, it wasn’t all that bad mostly because it was also incredibly dry. Having said that, it definitely is not something I would want to deal with either for an extended period or on an every-day basis. It has been warm here at home, but the biggest difference is that where Phoenix gets down to about 90 degrees at night, we get a nice drop from the mid-90′s during the day to upper 40′s or low 50′s at night.
We had very good Thai food close to the hotel one evening at a little place called “Thai Elephant”, and decent (if unspectacular) food the rest of the time. For a change the convention center hosting the conference wasn’t freezing (with the exception of just one of the presentation rooms). Our presentations went fairly well, although we are always curious to see the evaluations we get back from the attendees…
And we finished the trip off in style, keeping my travel streak alive and well: our flight Thursday evening out of Phoenix was almost two hours late leaving due to a maintenance issue, so we missed our connection in Salt Lake City and got to spend the night in SLC before heading home (finally) at mid-day Friday.
… my streak of bad luck traveling. OK, not seriously bad luck, but just enough to make one wonder.
I’m in DC this week — traveling with Jeff — for work, and rather than wait for the trip home at the end of the week to continue my stretch of some sort of travel anomaly, we decided to get it going early this time: some sort of failure on the “igniters” on the plane scheduled to take us from Salt Lake to Cincinnati as they started the engines to leave. (Igniters? Sounds more like something we’d find on a rocket…)
An hour and a half later, we left Salt Lake which meant of course we just missed our connection in Cincinnati, so we got to hang out in the Cincinnati airport and enjoy a (not-so-fine) dining experience there rather than somewhere good (read: with food) in DC. The interesting part about just missing our connection is that our bags made the connection and were waiting for us in at the Delta luggage place in the bowels of the airport. Of course, we only went there because our bags didn’t come out at the baggage claim place for our flight. Go figure…
A good thing: our hotel is right next door to a 24-hour CVS, so Jeff is in CVS heaven this week.
Ian (l) and Teagan (r) on the train into St. Louis Monday afternoon (01/2010)
… is kind of a mixed bag. Ian, Teagan (a friend of Ian’s), and I are back here for the week for a conference (more on that in a bit), but I don’t yet really have much of an opinion aside from initial impressions. We flew in on Monday and rode the train from the airport into the downtown area to the hotel. The train ride was grey, brown, and rust: a grey blustery day, nothing green in sight, and passing through areas of run-down industrial and urban decay on the west side of the city. I’m a little surprised at the lack of effort on the part of the city to do anything to clean up the area, given the impression it leaves on someone new to town. Depressing.
The hotel where we are staying and where the conference is being hosted is pretty decent and is big enough that it doesn’t seem stretched to hold us all. Decent food within walking distance (very good Italian at J.F. Sanfilippo’s on Monday — made even better by great service — and decent Med last night at Nara’s). Looks like several sushi and Irish places close to us, too. We’ll probably check those out the next couple evenings. We haven’t really had much of a chance to get out and see anything, but the food and the hotel have been a bit of a counterpoint to the ride in…
Ian and Teagan were presented their awards at the conference yesterday morning in one of the plenary sessions, following a great presentation by Alan Paller of the SANS Institute. I’ll post a picture or two if I can track them down. They have their presentation this morning; I’m sure both of them will be glad to be past that so they can just enjoy the rest of the conference.
I made it home last night with little trouble, although it was close at one point.
We wrapped up the conference yesterday at mid-day. My last presentation went well, and then we bailed, heading for the airport early figuring the sooner we got to O’Hare, the better. We got stuck in traffic just at the entrance to the airport; there was something going on at one of the terminals — we never did hear what, although at one point we heard something on the shuttle driver’s radio that they had the terminal completely closed. After sitting literally motionless for close to an hour in traffic — and thinking how glad we were we had decided to leave early, and watching people walk with their luggage past the stopped traffic as they took matters into their own hands, presumably with the intent of making flights — traffic began creeping forward and eventually loosened up so that we made it to the right terminal in plenty of time. Got a bite to eat, took a nap, and boarded for SLC pretty close to on-time… only to get stuck in pretty much another traffic jam. At one point the pilot indicated we were number 20 in line for take off (weather off to one side of the airport had the place down to a single runway for departures).
We ended up leaving Chicago more than an hour after our scheduled departure, and were faced with a 100+ knot headwind (more info from our ever-helpful crew on the flight deck). I figured that our already relatively tight connection in SLC was history… and it nearly was. We came in on the far end of one concourse and had to get to the other end of another; by the time we got to our gate, they had already closed the door. We were pleasantly surprised, though, that they called down to the ramp, held the plane and sent us dashing through… and somehow they got our bags on board.
Home again, safe and sound. And it feels good to be back. Deb, Li, and Ian were glad to see me. Li was pretty excited to see me this morning when she woke up, and it was fun to get to snuggle a little with her this morning. I went in to work for a couple hours to take care of a couple loose ends, and now I’m off for a couple days of vacation (not counting the weekend) to try to refuel and reconnect with life. I came home to something unexpected: we bought a white 1986 manual Subaru GL wagon for Ian to use. One more step as he grows up; this one feels bigger than most.
I’ve got a couple pix on my phone that I will pull down and post from one of my early morning runs out to Navy Pier.