Entries tagged "travel"

January 5, 2013

Where was I?


My first visit to Austin the beginning of Dec for a wedding (not mine). Took Thursday and Friday beforehand in order to soak up all that is, according to everyone I spoke with there, the only city in Texas a liberal would want to visit. My people indeed run a very nice burg. Thursday night was swank, 3-course dinner night at Congress. Post bar-hopping plans were cancelled due to too much good food. No matter. The next morning was donut breakfast at Gourdough's then a walk through the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The internet speaks of great swimming holes but, even though it was too cold for swimming, the creek was bone-dry. I learned later from a local at the wedding that the drought of the last two years hit the Greenbelt hard. Still, it was a nice, alien, southwest landscape to walk through.

Continue to post-hike drinks at Trudy's (no food, still full from Congress and donuts) then on to the entertainment of the trip: a Doug Loves Movies podcast recording at the Alamo Drafthouse. Buy the podcast and you'll probably hear Lisa cackling at one point in the background! Sadly, they weren't doing their Trapped in the Closet Sing-Along while we were in town :-(. Wander the strip and people-watch until time for our second swank locale of the trip: drinks at Midnight Cowboy Modeling and Oriental Massage. Thanks to the name on the apartment buzzer that gets you into the bar, I now know who Harry Craddock is. More wanderings, eatings at a pizzeria, and drinkings to finish our undirected tour of Austin. On to the wedding.

We checkout of The Driskill in downtown Austin and drive to the Barton Creek Resort a few miles out. Beautiful, but to quote Al Czervik Golf courses and cemeteries are the biggest wasters of prime real estate. The wedding proper was at a ranch a few miles away and it was the pinnacle of swank for the trip. Among the appetizers offered before the wedding were a whole pig on a spit. I got to speak to many fascinating guests including a lawyer for Texas teachers unions. Usually, I attract rabid conservatives (one of the gay guests we were chatting with declared me at first sight as Mr. Conservative, so I guess I give off a vibe), so it was nice to be immersed in a gaggle of liberals.

Sunday brunch with our only live music of the trip (I know, I know), a visit to Waterloo Records where I got a replacement copy of Tales from Topographic Oceans, then home.

The Musical Box

Genesis tribute-band extraordinaire, The Musical Box, performed for the last time ever the seminal concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. As much as Einstein on the Beach--seen live in London at the beginning of 2012--this was an iconic work for me growing up. I'd always heard of TMB and their faithful interpretations, but never made the effort. With the range of music, costumes, and sets, this was a stunning show. Memorable: "The Lamia" where the singer was hidden within a glowing cloth tube for the entirety of the song; pulling off the metrically manic solos for "In The Cage" and "Riding the Scree"; "Cuckoo Cocoon" where the singer lies on stage with his head towards the audience during his flute solo. More than any concert, I'm sad I'll never see it again.

X-mas and New Years miscellany

The Cheatham's first holiday bash in their Decatur digs; my first holiday party with my current company; A Christmas Carol at Shakespeare Tavern; our (usually) annual holiday dinner with friends, this year at The Optimist; our soon-to-be annual holiday dinner with Bob&Lisa, this year at no246 in Decatur; annual holiday party at The Barry's. Special weekend in Blackberry Farm as a gift from the mom-in-law with the Foley family. Cold days in the mountains with fireplaces, amazing food, nano-brewery tour, and a failed attempt at our first geocaching foray. Finally, a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens--my first--with Lisa and Theresa for their garden lights display.

This is the first weekend in a long time that we're doing nothing.

Oh, and my 3-week-old car got broken into and is spending a week at the body shop. Fuck you, thieves. Fuck you in your anus.

Entries tagged "travel"

July 30, 2012

Where was I?

Last year's and this year's Peachtree Road Race numbers:

peachtree-road-race.75938 peachtree-road-race.21223

[ updated 24 Jul 2013 ]

Found the pics from online:

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Had a personal best with 55:18 this year and so have gotten cocky enough to sign up for a half marathon in Asheville, NC Sept 15th. It will be my last run with the 2+ year-old Vibrams. They've held up very well, but it's time for a new pair!

Lisa & I somewhere doing something stupid:

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Fish at One Eared Stag for my b-day and some wine after more seafood at Lure Midtown for my sis-in-law's b-day a few days later:

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Second annual trip to St. George Island with my bro and his wife's relatives all last week. We brought the last bottle of wine, Clos Pegase, that remained from a Napa trip we all went on 13 (?) years ago. Just really, really, good. Crazy crab shell from the beach:

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Ah, the cruelty of Nature! etc. etc.

posted by sstrader at 10:54 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, restaurant, st george island, travel, wine | permalink | comments (0)
Entries tagged "travel"

May 20, 2012

Einstein on the Thames

London last weekend for the Barbican Center's production of Einstein on the Beach. Planned a couple of months prior.

Fri 11 May

Before we get on our flight, we realize that the tickets are to Gatwick instead of Heathrow. Derp. The change was pretty harmless, and we just had to pay a little extra for an express train in. Slept maybe 30 minutes on the flight. In London proper, we passed by Battersea Power Station. Because it's used on the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals, this was actually a scheduled destination for Sunday. Instead, I snapped a pic from the Monday morning train ride on our return to Gatwick.


Check in at The Metropolitan across from Hyde Park. Quite posh. We scored an amazing deal at Hotwire (but made up for the savings by closing every evening at the hotel bar). Late breakfast at The Breakfast Club; an excellent bohemian restaurant that gave me beans with my breakfast. Beans?! Our first hint of foreignness in a city that felt at first like New York. After was our shopping trip around Carnaby Street which has a bunch of hipster/Mod clothing shops. Lisa spotted a shop called The Face (Mod slang for the coolest of the cool kids) down a side street. Jacket purchased there with matching shirt from a Ben Sherman down the street. Hour 26 of our first day and my EotB outfit was achieved!


Just watched The Who's Quadrophenia on YouTube to relive all that was the Mods. Brilliant!

Prepping for our trip, Verizon told me that my new phone (HTC Rezound) wouldn't work in the UK, so I got a temporary HTC Incredible 2 for Internet and photos. Sadly, it had no SD card to store said photos, so I had to grab one at the local Vodaphone shop. Vodaphone?!? More foreignness! Vodaphone guys get the honor of IMAG0001:


Next stop: London Eye, delicious street vendor ice cream, general walking and gawking, plus our first pub of the trip: The Camel and Artichoke. A perfect little neighborhood spot that quickly filled up with end-of-the-work-week locals and presented us with our first pub questions: How do we tip the bartender? What are all these beers I've never heard of? And why do they all taste flat? More foreign madness.

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Top of the world! Battersea is visible right above the British flag.

All of this walking wiped us out, so a 60-minute power nap brought me up to 90 minutes of sleep by hour 30 of our first day. Dinner was French cuisine at a two-star Michelin restaurant The Square; a short walk from our hotel and still in the Mayfair district proper. The three-course meal was insinuated with what seemed like dozens of amuse-bouches. The portions were appropriately small and the flavor was subtle and varied. We have never done wrong with French restaurants and this was the pinnacle. Walk back to the hotel with closing drinks at the bar where the more acrobatic bartender spun a bottle upside down in the palm of his hand. In bed at hour 36 of our first day, right well exhausted.

Sat 12 May

This is the day. Everything revolves around Einstein on the Beach.

First, a trip out of Mayfair and up Audley Street towards the Sherlock Holmes Museum, prompted by my interest that started seven (!) years ago. Breakfast of pastry and coffee at The Richoux on the way. The museum was three floors of miscellany and wax figures of major characters.

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Left: Trying but not buying. Right: Sherlock's violin!

Nearby was our second pub of the trip: The Volunteer. Glasses were replaced with plastic in anticipation of a contentious football match later in the day. After drinks, a quick walk to The Beatles Museum a few doors down then the underground to a walk through Green Park and Buckingham Palace.

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Change of the guards, change of key.

Taxi to Barbican via Fleet Street for pre-concert late lunch early dinner at Vinoteca. I had mussels and Lisa had their special of the day: hot dogs. Walk to Barbican, pick up tickets at will call, find our seats.


EotB opens with the female "leads" simultaneously reciting a different block of text, sometimes intersecting with homophones or bouncing with accidental call and response, overtop a choir singing numerals to the meter. Prior to the official start, they sat on stage intoning their parts without choir. My heart was racing for the moment and when the choir started, starting the opera, my throat constricted with the feeling that I could hardly believe where I was. 5:30 PM to 9:50 PM. At around three hours in, I finally looked at my watch and decided that an intermission wasn't necessary. There were too many moments that were genuinely unique and varied to express without the mundane "you had to be there." Music, dance, and theater. I have little sense of the meaning of the opera, but the beauty and humor and structural brilliance were enough. I may go again this fall in Brooklyn; I recommend you do too.

After was our third pub of the trip: Two Brewers just up the street from Barbican. We chatted with the owner, his wife, and the bartender after the owner playfully mocked my mod, mod Carnaby jacket. They were, perhaps, the friendliest people we met during our entire London trip, and we'll definitely go out of our way to return during our next London trip. Underground back to the, now very packed, hotel bar and final drinks. The bar was filled with young Euro-punks, flashy dressers, and families (?!?). Female DJ was awesome.

Sun 13 May

Long days and walking everywhere catching up with us. An early start was not achieved. We eventually get to the Tate Modern for the Damien Hirst exhibition.

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The Tate Modern is obviously a product of the same architect that did Battersea. Good omen. Inside was enormous. The Hirst show contained a stunning collection of every style that he's worked in, beginning with a reproduction of his first gallery show (although, that was the weakest piece). Photography was not allowed because--I'll safely assume--Hirst is a manic businessman when it comes to marketing his art. The most stunning pieces were The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (i.e. the shark piece), A Thousand Years, and Black Sun. A Thousand Years consists of two glass boxes. One contains a smaller white box in which flies hatch from maggots. The other contains a decomposing cow's head which the flies fed on. Above it, a bug zapper. Oddly, the the boxes appeared to be sealed directly against the wood floor of the museum so that the head bled and rotted on the same floor the visitors walked across. We were safely separated from the cycle, yet a shared surface transported us into the piece. The tactile aspect was more moving than expected. Black Sun is a 12-foot circle six-or-so inches deep, jarringly black with an undulating texture. It is made from layers of dead flies. The concept is disgusting, but the result is beautiful (much more so than its images suggest). For the Love of God was impressive but, much like the Mona Lisa, difficult to separate image from icon. The most humorous pieces were his hundreds of "facsimile pills" which were replications of actual pills, to scale.

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After was a walk next door to tour the Globe Theatre. No chance for a guided tour, but we walked through the museum and discovered that an American actor championed the effort to rebuild the theater. After walking the Tate and the Globe, we were ready for our first meal of the day at around 4 PM. We ended up at our fourth pub of the trip: The Ring in Southwark (pronounced SUTH-erk, you tosser). Nothing remarkable, but I had the cottage pie and now have ambitions to make it at home. At one point, the music playing was Carol King's "I Feel the Earth Move"; lyrics used prominently in EotB.

There was some further wandering around the city, resting at the hotel and packing, then a long walk through Middle Eastern neighborhoods to dinner at our fifth and final pub: The Windsor Castle in Marleybone. Thai food! Hotel bar, early morning express train, and arrival home at 6 PM Monday night. Plans to return next year during The Proms.

Entries tagged "travel"

May 3, 2011

Where was I?

Some crazy bird graffiti from Cabbagetown:


The weekend of the 15th was our second, tri-yearly cabin trip with friends. This visit took us to Morganton, GA with all members of the prior craziness plus new pals Eric and Perla and Mike. It was mostly decadent, as expected, but Sat morning I had a good run around the mountain where a gang of three dogs decided to join me in an impromptu pack. Girl Talk was, perhaps, overplayed. Sat nite ended late with a packed hot tub.



The weekend of the 22nd was our 3rd annual Crescent City Classic trip to New Orleans. Due to the voodoo calculus that put Easter three weeks later than normal--making NOLA three weeks hotter than normal--our asses were quickly kicked by the 10k.

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Some crazy bird graffiti from New Orleans:


Last weekend (the 30th) was the Xth annual Inman Park Festival at Dan and Alicia's. At the festival proper, Lisa bought me several prints of robots and rabbits (separately) from Mr. Hooper, and I bought her a painting warning of the evils of sunbathing from R. Land. To the frame shop!

Entries tagged "travel"

January 31, 2011

Thailand trip, 2011

We went to Thailand for ~two weeks from Sunday 9 January through Saturday 22 January with Friendly Planet's Taste of Thailand package. Our friends Liz and Matt took the same trip a year or so ago and it sold out before we could join the fun so when Liz reminded us that they were offering it again, we pounced.

Continue reading "Thailand trip, 2011"
posted by sstrader at 11:50 PM in Where was I? | tagged thailand, travel | permalink | comments (3)
Entries tagged "travel"

April 23, 2009

Where was I?

Two weekends ago, we went to New Orleans to meet up with Kevin and Chad and run the 31st annual Crescent City Classic 10k. For two weeks prior, I'd been slowly getting back to jogging with no ill effects from my herniated disc. The jog we did in Key West last September was enjoyable but left me somewhat debilitated the next few days. I didn't have any issues after the NOLA run, so I suspect the Key West problems were from hours of walking around. Noted. Our times were unimpressive--Lisa then me then Chad, 1:03 then 1:05 then 1:08?--but it was one of the easiest, most enjoyable routes I've been on. It was flat throughout with the course going through the Quarter, then an old neighborhood, and finally to City Park. Definitely will be a repeat event.


Other NOLA activities included drinking (wha?!?) and some of the best dining in a while. Plus, all the restaurants were new to us. Cochon's (Pig's?) Friday night (Lisa & I took a nap, overslept, and met them there 1/2 hour late), Jacques Imo's Saturday night (beautiful evening with a cozy table in the front window), and Elizabeth's to eat Praline Bacon for Sunday brunch (unfortunately, my Irish coffee had a couple of dead fruit flies at the bottom. blech!). Somewhere in there was lunch at Parasol's (a building touting absolutely no right angles) where we had our ears raped by the Loudest Girl In the World, wearing the most appropriate t-shirt in the world, stating simply: I am New Orleans. Also acquired were two necklaces purchased for the nieces from vendors in the Quarter. Afterwards was drinks at the famous Johnny White's.



#NOLA Rooster parade. on Twitpic

Last weekend was Allison and Matt's wedding in Santa Rosa, FL with Shelby and Robert. Four days of fun in the sun, except the sun kinda kept hidden. No matter. On the drive down, I discovered the Holy of Holies: a sode never before seen by civilized society. I give to you, Dr. Wham!

#santarosa Diet Dr. Wham. Really?! on Twitpic

Diet Dr. Wham. This magic elixir gave us the energy to shop for an absurd amount of food and drink when we arrived Friday. Very nice wine store (Sandestin Wine World?) with one of those fancy, robotic wine tasting machines: you purchase a card to use at the machine and it dispenses a tasting of your choice. We had big plans to return... but never did. Rest, then rehearsal dinner BBQ at the top floor of a neat-o, 3-story beach hour w/ elevator.

Saturday was beach and wedding. I started off with a jog--more nice, flat terrain. Beach was cool-then-cold and windy with the dreaded red flag (high hazard!) out. Then back to the condo and hanging out in the hot tub. It was wet, but did not make me sweat. The wedding was in a glen under a huge, moss-covered oak with the reception in a nearby tent. Perfect evening. We eventually made a quick jaunt (after getting lost) to some bar in Seaside, then back to the condo.

Post morning jog, much of Sunday was relaxing and watching crazy movies since the weather went gray. Oddest experience: everything we chatted about on the drive down appeared in some form or another later in the weekend via movies or Trivial Pursuit trivia questions. Weird. Best of the bunch: Roadhouse (!), The Fifth Element (natch), The Matrix (realizing how horrible (minus Monica Bellucci) the others were), and mostfuckingawesomeofall Zombie Strippers with--and I was quite astounded about this--an unexpectedly gorgeous Jenna Jameson. I would say that it takes zombies to stop her from looking like a skank, but even the womens were enraptured. Dinner at Stinky's was uncharacteristically fresh and unfried. Very good experience.

It was good to return on Monday and live the life of a four-day work-week.

[ updated 11 May 2009 ]

Too cheap to purchase the fotos from MarathonFoto.com so here're the screen caps:





posted by sstrader at 10:26 PM in Where was I? | tagged jogging, new orleans, travel | permalink | comments (0)
Entries tagged "travel"

October 1, 2006

Vacation (very long)

Back from California.

Instead of a trip to Italy (flights too expensive), Lisa & I went to CA to celebrate her 40th trading Chianti for Zinfandel. The itinerary took us from San Francisco to a few days in Sonoma, then travelling down the PCH making two day stops each in Carmel and Santa Barbara and finally ending up in LA to visit the sister-in-law-in-law and family. Lisa gets all the credit for one of the best-planned vacations yet, and I recommend anyone take the same or similar route. References were the Lonely Planet Napa & Sonoma Wine Country and California Highway 1 guides.


(Our ticket number at Fresh to Order the night before leaving. Coincidence?!?)

[ San Francisco ] [ Sonoma ] [ Carmel ] [ Santa Barbara ] [ Los Angeles ]

San Francisco

On the flight over, I sat next to an FBI agent who was reading Fiasco. He was returning to his home office in San Francisco to check in and attend a friend's wedding in Santa Barbara. We had a nice talk and he gave us a few good recommendations for Carmel. Our rental car was a convertible PT Cruiser. Lisa had hoped for a Mustang, but the luggage and purchased wine would've never fit, so we were lucky.

Fri 22

This was probably the most culinary trip we've ever taken, with excellent meals to be had from start to LA. Our arrival dinner in San Francisco was at 9:45 Friday night at The Slanted Door near The Embarcadero. Expensive, hip, Asian, yet very good. We split appetizers and uncharacteristicly laid low on the wine in order to mitigate the time zone. Breakfast the next morning was at Sears Fine Food. Unless you want to do some heavy-duty breakfast eatin', keep your skinny fucking ass away. Lisa had wanted to go on our last SF trip, but the place was under renovation. We wisely returned by accident after a wrong turn and were not disappointed.


This was our second trip to “wine country.” The first was with the brother, sister-in-law, her sister, and her husband eight years back for a few days in Napa. Very fond memories. This trip to Sonoma, we stayed at the Sonoma Valley Inn: free wifi and an inviting pool that we somehow never made time for.

Sat 23

First wine tastings at Sebastiani: their Pinot was, as always, great as were their two dessert wines. Not overly sweet. The Eye of the Swan white pinot noir, a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, tasted to me like a horrible horrible mistake. The grapes did not blend at all. The servers were friendly and were easy to crack wise with. The first one we had actually lived in Midtown off of Monroe 10 or so years ago. We also saw the preparations for what looked like two weddings on the front grounds. Aww. Gundlach Bundschu had nice wines but we ended up with a less-than-friendly hostess. Although she did have an interesting history: her father worked the winery for 22 years and so she works there now and will probably continue to do so. I can't count how many jobs I've had in my life.

In the evening, we had drinks at the El Dorado Kitchen, a warm modern bar in the El Dorado Hotel off of Sonoma Plaza, and then Lisa's birthday dinner at Girl & the Fig just across the street. The inside is nice, but dining on their patio is a must.

Sun 24

Three wineries close together just east of town: Ravenswood, Buena Vista, and Bartholomew. Ravenswood, of course, is famous for its zinfandels and I definitely fell back in love with them during this visit.


At Buena Vista we tasted and purchased a bottle of their sherry. It, like many wines we ordered, was available only at their winery. Most were worth the purchase; only a few, like Sebastiani's white pinot noir, were better left in limited release. Interestingly, Buena Vista was started by the father of California wines, Agoston Haraszthy. Information on him was to be found in a small museum at the next winery, Bartholomew. Bartholomew was possibly the only one we visited that was completely organic and their wines were 100% varietals with no blends. We were fortunate enough to be pointed to lunch at Cafe Citti in Glen Ellen by our server at Ravenswood. Returning back in town, we finished up the afternoon at the Mayo Family Winery. There, a part-time jazz musician poured and spun tales of wine and music with some Coltrane in the background. The extended stay there knocked us out for the rest of the afternoon. After a “rest” back at the hotel, we went to dinner at Maya. Beware the stuffed jalepenos! They were both the most flavorful and hottest peppers I've ever had. A rare combination. Again, an outstanding meal.

Mon 25

Get up, get out, and we wound our way on back roads to begin our trip on Highway 1. Down through woods and coast and small towns and finally back through San Francisco with a scenic lunch at Cliff House (emphasis on scenery and not lunch). Continue on to our next major stop...


Our hotel was a slight step down (especially since we later found out from one of the locals at a bar that it was the sight of a prostitution ring bust), but what it lacked in charm it made up for in free wifi. Dinner that evening at Grasing's ('gray-zings). I love the freedom of gourmet food and casual dining in these towns.

Tue 26

No wineries! We must pack all of our Carmel-related-stuff in today and save the wineries for our trip out on Wednesday. We started with the Monterey Aquarium, which I have finally come to the conclusion is slightly better than the Georgia Aquarium, fresh in my mind from a recent visit. They had: a diver feeding fish and sharks and monkey-faced eels, a mock wetlands room with sand and reeds and several species of birds, ample plaques with information on the oddities that you're viewing. For me, they really gained points for the extra information. Lunch at Sly McFly's (fried seafood, meatball sammich), fresh-made fudge at a local candy shop, then over to the 17-mile drive to see rich houses around the Pebble Beach Golf Course (meh) and various vistas and fauna on the coast.


Cheese and wine was obtained at The Cheese Shop in town, then we relaxed at the hotel with some internet jazz and a Carmel sunset. Dinner began with drinks at The Carmel Mission Inn, Clint Eastwood's joint, where we enjoyed the 70's radio serenade at the piano bar. As the pianist was noodling around in between songs, me and a local declared in unison “Alan Parsons Project!” (specifically, the opening chord to “I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You”). I'm sure all present were impressed. He then informed us of the illicit history of our hotel.

We went to dinner at Forge in the Forest (both this and the aquarium were recommended by my FBI flight neighbor). Unfortunately, they close oddly early and much of our meal was rushed by a waiter who felt that punctuality at closing time was of utmost importance. The food was only OK but the patio atmosphere was perfect for the weather, which was never not-perfect so that goes without saying. Dinner at The Carmel Mission Inn would have been much better, but I'd still lightly recommend Forge in the Forest. Lightly. We ended the evening on the strip in Monterey for drinks at a local bar where Lisa mistook “Lad's” for “Ladies,” from which we overheard a mocking of her as clever as you'd guess any frat-boy could come up with. I was entertained.

Wed 27

Three excellent wineries on our way out of town. First, Chateau Julien. Although friends had a bad experience, the girl here was very friendly despite having a code in her dose. This was a week of surprising wines for me. I've been off of Zinfandels, Merlots, and Chardonnays for a while yet at many of the wineries these ended up being my favorites. At CJ, it ended up being the Chardonnays. Then San Saba where we spoke with a lady who often visits her mother in Atlanta. She insisted that Atlanta traffic is as bad as LA traffic, but we learned differently. More purchases, this time two unoaked Chardonnays—which had much less, well, oak flavor for lack of a thesaurus. Finally, Bernardus where we enjoyed two blends consisting mostly of Cabernet that they called their Marinas.

On our way to Santa Barbara, we intended to visit Hearst Castle (of rosebud fame) but needed to reserve the tour ahead of time and they were sold out. Their free museum hinted at the opulence and taste of the place. No mention was made of the SLA.

Santa Barbara

Checked in to the Brisas del Mar hotel in Santa Barbara and relaxed a little before going to dinner at Sage & Onion (recommended in our Lonely Planet guide). This, along with the next evening's meal at Bouchon, rated as some of the best food of the trip.

Thu 28

Similar to Carmel, the wineries in Santa Barbara take you out of town. We drove around 30 minutes to get to Los Olivos (almost running out of gas on the way). All of the tasting rooms are in a short block or two down the main street that basically is Los Olivos—one bragging prominently “as NOT seen in Sideways.” We visited Consilience (the hostess had worked as a paramedic in New Orleans), Longoria Wines, The Tasting Room (where the host, although a character, had some disparaging remarks about Atlanta), and finally Andrew Murray Vineyards. All-in-all an excellent trip. Then to the neighboring town of Solvang to get me some shoes:


And check out a few more wineries. First Lucas & Lewellen, then their sister shop Mandolina where we met some guys who seemed to be Big Shots of some sort. Wine tastings make people chatty. We got back in town and had a light lunch at a recommended dive called La Super-Rica Taqueria where I was quite restive in my new shoes:


Dos Relaxxis! Then a stop at the beach at West Beach to watch the birds and the surf before heading back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool and hot tub—shamefully the only time we put on swim suits the whole trip. And no, there were no nude beaches. The hot tub cured the pain in my gimpy leg that began on the flight, so I had a short reprieve from my old man syndrome. Shower and dressed to have our next-to-final meal at Bouchon (lamb and venison, both outstanding with a local pinot noir) and our next-to-final drinks out at one of the many and active college bars along the main street in Santa Barbara.

Fri 29

Depression surprisingly doesn't set in on our last real day—with our flight the next morning. After shipping two boxes of wine (a small fraction of the many that we had shipped directly) and one box filled with all of the free glasses from the wineries we visited, we made a quick trip up the tower of the historic courthouse and then had a couple of appetizers at the highly recommended Bogart's Cafe where Nicole was in the weeds but all of the old books and light opera kept us entertained.

Los Angeles

Our final trip down the PCH to LA. More surfers than you can shake a surfing stick at. Experience the thrill of LA traffic and after pulling in to the wrong hotel (“oh, we're sorry, we're supposed to be at the Radisson, not the Renaissance...”) we had time to check in, clean up, and text my sister-in-law-in-law for directions to their place. Over the largest take-out burrito I've ever seen (think alien pod), we got caught up with the kids and the life back in LA after a two-year stint in NYC (performing in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and the massive renovations to their house which made me jealous to live in a bungalow. We talked some geeky talk about bootleg internet radio and I got to see some scenes from DRS that Greg had recorded (maybe see some short, unsanctioned bootlegs on YouTube if they don't get pulled). Along with this little gem:

mel jbara

Here, Greg does is best Crazy Anti-Semite impersonation for an upcoming movie (I'm probably breaking some sort of copyright by posting this). The most uncomfortable part was when he called me Sugartits. On the way back to the hotel that night, although in pain from the freakisly large burrito, we stopped at an In & Out Burger along with the rest of the population of LA:


The trip was only slightly marred by a very post-40 pain in my left leg--appearing first on the plane and then aggravated by a jog in Sonoma to the point that I had to hobble most of the trip. I may try to avoid a doctor's visit, but it would be very unwise. The other mishap involved several days of phone calls and internet connections with the office over unresolved issues. It was one of the most painful times with work in recent memory, and only Monday will reveal what is to come.

Now comes the wait for all of the wine that we ordered. Boxes should start appearing Wednesday or so, so I have until then to purchase more wine shelves. Many more.

posted by sstrader at 7:38 PM in Personal | tagged travel | permalink | comments (2)