Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Travel | 3 Comments

Yes, I am still alive and haven’t orphaned the blog.  I even have a few specific posts in mind for the next few weeks.  Of course, I’ve been meaning to write them for the last few weeks too. . .

Work is going well.  There was a lot of adjustment at the beginning (new place, different culture, I work with a number of different teams).  I still have a lot to learn, but I’m starting to get an idea of who people are- particularly who I want nothing to do with!  I’ve also found some co-workers with similar work ethics and am even working on a team with someone I had worked with in another city many years ago.

Jesse seems OK so far.  He still isn’t concentrating his urine.  I have some idea what this means, but nowhere near well enough to explain it.  At this point I’m just hoping it’s an individual difference and not a symptom of an underlying disease process.

I’m up crazy early (for a holiday/non-work day) even though there are no children living in this household.  There is actually a good reason though- as soon as I publish this I’m leaving on the 7 hour drive to go see my Dad and sister for Christmas.  I couldn’t leave earlier because of work and my lack of vacation hours (being new) but I’ll get there not too long after they get home from Church so it will work out.  I’m really excited about spending Christmas with some of my family.  This will be only the second Christmas in the last five years I have spent with any family.  Two Thanksgivings were with family during the same time period, so I’ve spent most holidays away from family in recent years.  It will be really nice to be with some of them today.

I want to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas.  If you aren’t able to be with family today, I hope that you have someone else special or close to spend the day with.  For those of you who are able to be with family, don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are to be with them, even if it isn’t your entire family.

Another Odd Sign

October 26, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

I recently took a trip to Florida. A lot of it was filled with busywork, but there were a few events interspersed amidst the boredom that made me go hmmm? One of the first actually occurred at the airport. As far as I can remember, this is the first time I’ve ever traveled from NJ to Florida at the beginning of winter. The plane was loaded with old people. There were over half a dozen who boarded the plane on wheelchairs (8- I counted) plus over a dozen more who obviously really needed to pre-board and wisely used this option. Almost half of the passengers on the plane boarded during the pre-board process. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the mean age of the passengers on the plane had to be around 74. It was kind of surreal to find myself in the middle of the snowbird migration.

I like to take pictures of odd sights and signs that I see while traveling and I saw a few signs this trip that made me do a double take. Unfortunately, I was driving and wasn’t able to whip out the camera and take a picture of any of them. However, I did find a picture of one very similar sign through an image search (the others I couldn’t find). Actually, I found images of several different variations of this sign, which honestly surprised me, but this is the closest to the one that I saw. I can’t help but wonder where this is going to end. Eventually there will be so many specific signs that no one will pay attention to any of them!

Random sign seen while traveling

August 4, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Posted in Military, Travel | 4 Comments

I was going to use this as a “Wordless Wednesday” post, but decided that probably wasn’t a good idea since the sign pretty much is all about the words.

Things I learned today

July 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Flying out of JFK (rather than Newark) is a stupid, stupid, stupid thing for me to do.  Aside from the fact that I have to cross midtown Manhattan to get from my home to JFK (a 1.3 mile segment of the trip took 45 minutes to traverse this morning), it’s JFK.  That alone should be enough for me to know better.  Bad things happen when I fly out of JFK.

I’ve flown through JFK twice before.  The very first time was the day Homeland Security/TSA instituted the “no liquids past security rule”.  LIterally the first day. . . mere hours after the change in policy took place.  I had given myself a lot of extra time for the drive to JFK and made it to the terminal from the remote parking lot with a full two hours to spare before my flight left.  Unfortunately, the check-in area was a bit crowded and the lines stretched out onto the sidewalk.  I was still in line waiting to reach the ticket counter when my flight left . . . and it left late.  I ended up waiting around for a flight that afternoon- they couldn’t even check me in for a few hours I had so long to wait.  I HAD to fly out of JFK though.  Work was paying for the ticket and they insisted on buying the cheapest fare, even if it meant they spent more on other travel costs (e.g. more mileage for the drive to the airport, over $10 in tolls instead of $1, parking since no one could drop me off and extra time missed from work).

The second time was when I flew to a cousin’s wedding.  The problems with that trip had more to do with the Subway in NYC.  I decided not to drive to JFK because taking the bus into the city followed by the Subway and AirTrain would be a lot cheaper than driving.  I spent the night before the flight left with a good friend in the city and then headed out.  I ran into problems right away.  The subway line I needed to take had major delays due to some kind of incident.  So, I walked a few blocks closer to Central Park to take another line.  The new line also had delays.  A train in front of us couldn’t get it’s doors closed.  I had allowed quite a bit of extra time for the travel and made my flight that time.  It just wasn’t fun getting there.

Today has been a not so good JFK travel day.  I missed my original flight, but got on the next one standby.  Unfortunately, I had a connection to make and only had one hour on the ground between flights.  It wasn’t enough.  We left the gate at JFK about 30 minutes late and then spent almost 45 waiting to take off after pushing away from the gate.  The flight attendent says that she tells friends and family to allow a minimum of 4 hours for connections if JFK is involved in their travel plans.  Is it just me or is that really messed up?

My first flight was so delayed that I now find myself sitting in an airport waiting for an even later connecting flight.  I’m having such *great* travel luck today that it too is delayed.  We are currently scheduled to arrive at my destination almost 4 hours after I was supposed to get there.  If this was leisure travel I wouldn’t really care, but it isn’t.  I also just found that my day full of meetings that was supposed to start at 9 in the a.m. will actually be starting at 8.  The news just keeps getting better!

I did learn one good thing today.  The Charlotte, North Carolina airport has free wireless internet access.  So, you get to read my whining courtesy of the Charlotte International Airport.

 

P.S.- I have another flight scheduled out of JFK in around two weeks.  I might commit hari kari

Can Calgon really take me away?

July 10, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Travel, Under the Sea | 2 Comments

Between a handyman who isn’t so handy, the return of the rude neighbor, and some other assorted happenings I wasn’t in a good mood tonight. Then I somehow stumbled on an article about UNESCO adding sites to the list of “World Heritage Sites“. It included a picture of one of the newly labeled “Natural Wonders of the World”. All it took was one look and I felt a smile starting. I looked up a few links and pictures to share and my mood got even better!

One of the newest World Heritage Sites is the Lagoons of New Caledonia and their coral reefs. A nice tropical location in the South Pacific. A quick google search turned up a travel website that lets you download images to use on your website as long as you link back to them. So, without any further ado, feast your eyes on New Caledonia!

Shabadran Mare New Caledonia

West Coast of Ouvea

Ilot Koure Lagoon

I would love to be on any one of those beaches right now . . .

Gone Fishing

June 5, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Travel | 4 Comments

Well…not really fishing.  I’m in Kansas for a work related training this week.  Getting here was a bit of an adventure.  I’ll write about the fun part when I’m back in NJ.  I was going to write a long post tonight, but bad weather is hitting and I need to unplug the work laptop.  Right now it is so windy that it is literally raining sideways.  There are all kinds of “fun” weather events forecast for the next few hours.  Who knows, maybe I can write about a tornado the next time I post!

Wordless Wednesday #7

March 12, 2008 at 12:30 am | Posted in Travel, WW | 9 Comments

Trip Report #5- The final installment

February 29, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready to post the last report on my trip to DC. At the beginning of February, very soon after starting this blog, I took a little break to meet my brother and SIL in DC. I wrote about motorcades, our visit to the International Spy Museum (a surprising “must see” in DC), general travel “fun”, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (including learning about the Spirit of Texas).

What I haven’t written about so far is the exhibit that I least expected to see at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The signs outside with pictures of glittery Ruby Red Slippers should have been a clue that something unusual was going on.  However, I was oblivious until a volunteer told us about a special exhibit underway.

The exhibit is titled “Treasures of American History”. Apparently the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is currently closed for renovations. During the renovations, an eclectic collection of items from throughout our country’s history have been brought to the Air and Space Museum to be displayed. The exhibit includes the desk where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, Kermit the frog!, Dorothy’s Red Slippers, a collection of hats (including a cheesehead hat with a Clinton/Gore ’96 bumper sticker on the side), and countless other objects.

As we were leaving the exhibit, a museum employee was at the door. My brother and I walked out first and she asked what our favorite part of the exhibit was. I had a hard time answering and told her that it was difficult for me to pick just one. My brother said that he liked seeing Thomas Jefferson’s desk but that his favorite was Andrew Jackson’s uniform- because he hadn’t realized how short he was! I was still having a hard time deciding, but was about to say that a dress of Mary Todd Lincoln’s was my favorite when my sister-in-law walked out. The docent asked her what her favorite part of the exhibit was and, without any hesitation, she selected George Washington’s uniform. I then “claimed” the dress as my favorite since I hadn’t named one yet. I can’t help but wonder what the docent thought about our answers. To people who don’t know us, it probably seemed a bit strange that two of the three picked military uniforms out of the 100s of objects in the exhibit. Little do they know that our group was one civilian (me), an Army officer and her spouse!  My SIL was also by far the quickest to provide an answer to the question.

After the Smithsonian we went back to the hotel briefly and then my brother and SIL drove me to Union Station. We hit a little bit of traffic, but not too bad, and stopped for gas. By the time we parked and found out my gate number I had just enough time to buy a sandwich for the train home. The goodbye was a little bit rushed- I really didn’t want to miss my train. I guess that’s better than a prolonged goodbye though. It was great to spend some time with my brother and SIL just enjoying each other’s company. There wasn’t a family event going on, no one was sick, and other than my return train there were no specific plans or appointments. I miss having them on the same continent and can’t wait until they are back in the US.

Texas Veteran Project

February 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Aggies, Military, Travel | 3 Comments

Last fall I read an article about the Texas Veteran Project. I didn’t have this blog at the time, so I emailed the information to a few different people and then didn’t think about it too much. I was reminded of the project recently and thought this would be a good time to try and spread the news.

The Texas Veteran Project is a group of Bed and Breakfasts and small inns/hotels in central Texas (31 are currently listed at the website). The purpose of the organization is

“to support returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their spouses by donating 1 or 2 night stays at their establishment. Each proprietor is thankful for veterans’ service to our country and feels honored to recognize the sacrifices of their time, talents, and in many cases, health.”

Continue Reading Texas Veteran Project…

Trip Report #4- Smithsonian, part Two

February 20, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

See? I really did mean it when I said I would come back and write more about my visit to the Smithsonian while in DC.

In my last post about the trip, I wrote about some of the different planes I saw at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Clearly there is more to Air and Space than just planes though. There were also displays on rockets, landing modules and even Skylab. The Skylab display has a back-up orbital workshop that you can actually enter part of and look around. I like that an “actual” module is part of the display as it gives a nice frame of reference for size.

However, my favorite display from the museum isn’t Skylab or the Army planes I posted pictures of in the last installment. Nope. What I enjoyed the most was being able to see the “Spirit of Texas” display. Here are two photos I took of this display.

As you can see, the Spirit of Texas is a helicopter. Not just any helicopter either. This Bell 206L-1 LongRangerII was the first helicopter to circumnavigate the globe. In 1982 , H. Ross Perot, Jr and Jay Coburn took just over 29 days to circle the world in this very helicopter. One model of this type of helicopter is used by the military (granted, there are some differences from the commercially available models). The SeaRanger is used for training by the Navy.

I’m not obsessed with helicopters or anything like that. I just really liked this one because of the name- the Spirit of Texas.

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