Wednesday, October 07, 2015


This will be short and sweet.  4 received notice today of her long-delayed and much deserved promotion to Line Producer at work.  She is Daughter of the Day!!!  As I have said many times, she is the perfect example of a person diving into the deep water with no guarantees.  She went to The Big Apple with no invitation, and carved out her space.  It is a great story. 

I always get a kick out of relating to friends and acquaintances how she is the voice in the ear of the sometimes variably-talented on-air news-readers.  In recent conversations with her, it has been good to hear the confidence in her voice and to see the proud bearing that comes across from someone who knows what she is doing.  The journey has not been painless, but she has learned how to take a punch...and how to respond.  Both of these qualities are useful throughout one's progression along the life line.

We are all very proud of her.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015


That accelerator treadmill called my life has been at warp speed.  Not all bad stuff by any stretch, but there are quite a few balls in the air these days!

First things first, let's salute 1 as Daughter of the Day for the completion of her latest marathon.  Sunday actually worked out pretty good.  The weather was good for runners...a little chilly at the start, but 50's for most of the race with little wind and sunny/partly cloudy skies.  Twin Cities always does a great job of administratively running the marathon, and this year was no exception.  (The finish line area was a bit congested as the capital building has a major face-lift going on and there was limited egress as the crowds attempted to leave the area.  But no biggie.)

Congrats also to 1.1 who made it through the marathon circuit with a ton of determination.  Sounds like his last five miles were no fun.  The photogs had left the building when he came through the finish line.  Here he is with his favorite kindergartener at the coffee shop on Saturday AM.

My drive to/from Harvest Path was an easy one.  I managed to stay away from the sheriffs and highway patrolmen who were out in some numbers on the return trip.  My book on tape was a David Baldacci mystery that was better than some, but tedious to finish.  Again, another novel that had a convoluted ending.  Don't they all?

2 was actually a key player in the weekend.  She was in full charge of 1.01 and 1.02 while the rest of us were traipsing about Minneapolis and St. Paul.  She had driven up on Friday afternoon from IC so that she would have more of a "weekend" than the hit 'n run that I had scheduled.  She was Auntie of the Day...or at least Auntie of Sunday morning!

My meeting-up with 1 on the marathon route was reasonably efficient, very routine at 6 and 10, but we did manage to mis-connect at the 15-16 mile spot.  I had given her a wrong watch-point, and we just didn't see one another.  One of the rules of spotting in these races is that the runner and the watcher both have to be on the look-out or the connection can be easily missed.  There are just too many people.  Anyway, we caught back on with one another at the 19 mile marker, and again at 23.  My auto traffic management was near perfect.  I don't think I had to walk more than a 100 yards for any of the meets.  Disobeying parking and direction signs is a good rule to follow in these things.

And how 'bout the modified fff in Vermont last weekend?  Lots of moving parts to the clan on any given time.  Phil and Margaret would be pleased.

I don't think that I mentioned that the credit card standard in Europe was the "chip", not the "swipe".  I was actually a little worried about smaller restaurants wanting cash as opposed to credit, but we never really ran into that problem.  The waiter's had the chip-reader machine, and it would spit out the paper receipts.  It would even prompt for the transaction to be expressed in USD or Euro.

Most places wanted Visa, not AmEx, which was a bummer since my Starwood card has no foreign transaction fee, while my Visa had the standard 3%FTF.  I was able to use the Starwood card for my bike and one of the hotels.

Enough for today.  Thanks for reading.


Friday, October 02, 2015


This has been a busy day.  And it is October.  September was a vapor trail.

I'm thinking that this pic from the French countryside could easily be made into a postcard or a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I took it with the iPhone on the country ride that late afternoon in Castres.  Beautiful scenery.  Same for the new Home Page pic which was taken on the wine tour in Saint Emilion, a couple hundred kilometers from Castres.

Another accomplishment of the trip was the fact that I watched exactly zero television while in our destination cities.  I did catch some random movies on the planes...nothing that I'd pay to go see.  And I routinely fast-forwarded most of the shows that I did watched.  I just don't have the interest.  My recollection is that 2 and I watched little if any TV on our last trip.  And I may have commented here about how easy it was for me to turn off the tube.  Let's face it, reality TV sucks.  And most of the recurring programs are not exactly mental gold mines.

2 and 4 definitely merit the distinction of Daughters of the Vacation...since Daughters of the Day seems like an inadequate designation.  They were generous with their time, and always considerate of Dear Old Dad throughout our trip.  I will always be grateful of their choice to spend time with me on a trip that offered little advance guidance...and food choices that left us all uncertain at times on our best menu options.

Our Hertz rental car was a mid-sized Ford with a hatch-back...that gave us sufficient room for ourselves, the bike box and our three suitcases for that trip to the Bordeaux airport.  Initially, I thought I might have to collapse the box for that short trip, and then expand it and box the bike after arrival at the airport.  But we were able to angle the box while still leaving one of the back seats upright for passenger seating so as to avoid that extra step packing at the airport. 

The car was a 6-speed manual transmission, with a diesel motor.  Really no problems other than my attempt to use regular gasoline the first time I had to fill the tank...even after reading the printing on the sticker near the fuel cap.  And there was a little bumper car action with some cement railings when I exited the parking garage on the way to the airport.  There is a reason that I subscribed to automatic insurance coverage through my American Express Gold Card whenever I rent a car.

If I had a higher level of cycling interest, I would have made a bigger effort to get out of the metropolitan areas for my rides.  Not that I would have wanted to climb any big TdF hills, but I do prefer country roads to the city streets.  Both Barcelona and Bordeaux had many bike lanes throughout the towns, but you still had to deal with the street lights and other traffic.  And the non-motorized traffic on the paved beach-front or river-side paths had the same challenges as our local bike, dogs and old people.

The Bordeaux wine was head-and-shoulders better than the Spanish wines.  We never spent more than 25-30e for take-out bottles at stores, and rarely more than that in restaurants.  A couple of the  bottles that we brought home from our wine-tasting store cost a little more, but we also had a couple lower-priced options that kept the average bottle price under 30e.  I still don't buy into the proposition that any Bordeaux wine is good wine.  I'm more of the, "cheap wine is cheap wine" guy.

Lastly, props to 3.1 for passing another securities examination for his new position on Wall Street.  You da' man!

OK.  All for today.  I go up to the Twin Cities tomorrow to follow 1 in pursuit of another marathon completion.  Look for tweets from the road.

Make it a good weekend in your neighborhood.


Thursday, October 01, 2015


This has been another day of inching back to normalcy.  The body is still a little off.  I was wide-awake at 0430 this I did laundry...and fully cleaned-out my checked-suitcase.  I think that I'll try to stay up a little later tonight and then get an extra 45 minutes or so of sleep.

I took the bike that I bought in Barcelona over to the local bike shop yesterday to get it tuned-up for anticipated sale on eBay/Craig's List.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, just needed a few small items tweaked after the initial road trials in Spain and France.  The bike is Trek's "starter" road bike, meaning it is not carbon-fiber, and has lower-end components.  That said, it's a fine bike, and if I don't get an adequate bid, I'll keep it for special purposes.

I passed my "left-over" Euro funds to my pal Roy who is leaving tomorrow for a 10-day river cruise in Portugal.  Among other places, they visit Fatima, so there will be candles lit and prayers said for us...I think.  There will be candles lit for sure.

Cards win!  Cards win!  Cards win!  The NL Central division.  All that means is that they don't have to play the one-game, sudden-death wild-card game.  As divisional winners, they get the 5-game series at least.  The Cubs and Pirates play the NL wild-card game, with the winner then getting the Cardinals.

In addition to the bike, we brought home six bottles of Bordeaux red wine.  Those bottles were packed in our checked-bags.  No problems.  We'll be saving those bottles for the right FFF in the future.  They won't be run through the regular MCSC inventory.

The RCL had been through her regular cleaning last week, so my house was pretty much spotless when I got home on Tuesday night.  The PN had mowed my yard.  Really, all I needed to do was, unpack, go to the grocery store, and then get my laundry done.  That was easy.

Dinner at a beach-front restaurant in Barcelona.
Saint Emilion.
Biking at the Atlantic near Bordeaux.
I have pictures on my phone that I need to transfer to my computer to supplement the regular camera pics.  There has to be a way>
All for today.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday....Back Home

Glad to be back in my own bed again.  That trip home was a long one...we knew before hand that the day would start early and end late.  There were no disappointments in that regard.

The main ped-mall area in Barcelona...The Rambla.
The Arch 'd Triomphe in Barcelona.
Olympic Stadium in Barcelona
Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Guell Park in Barcelona.
Main downtown plaza Bordeaux.
Winery in Saint Emilion.
Saint Emilion valley of vineyards.
Atlantic Ocean near Bordeaux...from Dune de Payat.
Last bike ride shot of downtown Bordeaux from across the river.
More commentary later.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday in Bordeaux

This is our last full day of our trip. No big plans. I have a final ride to complete this AM, and we'll be doing a wine-tasting at a near-by, downtown shop that we stopped at earlier in our visit. And we'll need to get most of our packing done tonight as we will have to leave relatively early in the morning to get to the airport in plenty of time.

This map gives you the picture of where we were yesterday. It was about an hour drive from Bordeaux city centre to the state park where the big sand dune is located. It was a busy place. From th top of the dune, you can see the coast line of the bay and waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. Very cool.

After 20-30 minutes on the dune, I suited up and rode for around 2 hours on some hard-surface bike paths within the park. Much of the ride was in forested areas with little traffic. Not the most scenic track after a while, but it was great to get out of the city and away from the traffic lights.

Just to be clear, I DID NOT wear the hat while on my ride!

Once back in the city, we spent more time walking the downtown area, with wine at a couple of spots. It gets a little cool in the evening and there is usually a breeze coming off the river, so we ate inside at the restaurant that we chose rather than at the sidewalk tables. Scallops for moi, steak for 2, and duck(!) for 4. I think we are all anxious to get back to our regular meal plans in the U.S. of A.

So that's the update. I'll maybe get something done tonight, but look for news first on Twitter as we get through these last elements of our European Vacation 2015.
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Sunday, September 27, 2015 Bordeaux

Sunday morning here in wine country. Friday and Saturday just flew by. The combination of a foreign country, the time change, and the constant living out of a suitcase makes the days hard to manage. You're up, you grab a coffee, do a couple things, then it's dinner, and before you know it, it's bedtime.

2 did a great job of selecting our hotel here in Bordeaux. We are located right in the middle of downtown, within walking distance of everything. The room is a bit cozy for three, but the bathroom is of a nice size (the bath/shower being a small challenge to keep shower nozzle water in the tub!)
We're on the top/5th floor...which is actually the 7th floor in American-speak...given their numbering system of 0 for the ground floor...and a mezzanine floor that is a full floor as well. Whatever.

Friday was spent with a day-trip to the wine village of Saint Emilion, a one-way drive of about an hour. Google Maps got us there and back with no problem...other than the Friday afternoon rush hour mess in downtown Bordeaux upon our return. Saint Emilion is Sonoma on steroids. There really isn't ANYTHING in the area other than vineyards and chateau's displaying/processing/selling wine.

The village is very old, dense and heavily tourist-organized. We took the tourist-tram for an hour-long tour...including a tasting at one of the vineyards.

Saturday we wandered around downtown Bordeaux. This included a tour of their Beaux Arts Museum. I had expected a bigger collection, and slightly more modern. But it had a distinct regional interest, and gave a bit of the back of the hand to the Expressionists. (If you enlarge this one, you can see that they did get up a shot of the last moments of Cecil the Lion....kidding!)

After lunch yesterday, I made my standard European trip visit to the laundry. This is not something that I should ever be allowed to do on my own. After having an RCL all these years, the wash that I do on my own, in my own house has few moving parts. Here, the instructions are in a foreign language, the equipment is strange, and I have no shot on my own.

In the end, there was some washing and drying done, but it was work.

Ok. The girls are ready to take off on our day trip the the ocean. More later.


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