Posts Tagged With: Photos

Review: American Airlines Coach Class – JFK to London

The horror of it all, to have to sit in coach on an international flight. Am I sick? Ha just kidding. In my almost three years of flying American Airlines or one of its partners in the One World Alliance, this was my first international flight in coach on American. I think I’ve logged in close to 200k miles in that time mostly domestic but have had an opportunity to fly them to London roundtrip 2x and one time each to Santiago, Japan, Nicaragua, and China.

I was flying to Dublin for a very short weekend trip via JFK and London, and I played the upgrade lottery and lost. At the beginning of the day I started at number 10 on the list and by boarding had dropped to 15, they had three open business class seats and sadly I was not in one of those. But hey that’s ok, I had a chance to try out coach class on their newish Boeing 77W, their long range aircraft that they started delivery on early last year.

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The back of the bus literally, 4 rows fro the back

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Categories: Airlines, Airport, American Airlines, Europe, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Pizzeria Bianco-Phoenix

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A tiny ray of light in downtown Phoenix

Pizza, Pizza Pizza it’s not all the same. There’s Chicago, Deep Dish, Stuffed, Thin Crust, Thick Crust and New York just to name a few. They all have their different flavors and textures, and ultimately most people find a type they love and look for it wherever they go. In my case my favorites are the pie like consistency of a Chicago style where the ingredients are layered below the red sauce or the New York, super thin and crispy crust, usually with a few simple ingredients. So whenever I’m in Phoenix, Arizona I always do my best to stimulate the economy and visit Pizzeria Bianco, famous for their wood fired oven and New York style pizza. Continue reading

Categories: Food, Review, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Photo of the Week: May 10

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This week we’re at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, and are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The review is forthcoming, but I had to post a Photo of the Week, featuring one of the many giraffe’s. They are so so beautiful, and in this photo this guy is lounging around like a puppy. They are just amazing creatures.

Categories: Disney, Hotels, Photo of the Week, Travel, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Oktoberfest: Day 2 and 3

Man cannot live on beer alone, although we really really tired, we also took the opportunity to visit a few sites in central Munich. We visited my favorite beer garden at Viktualien Markt and also Ratzkeller (Der Glockenspiel). Marienplatz is always fun, there’s always something going on whether it be tourists hanging out, people shopping or just enjoying a beer at 10 AM in the beer garden. I still can’t get over that aspect of German life, beer before water and at such an early hour. Viktualien Markt is a really great open air market with tons of food stands (think farmers market) and lots of handy crafts, it’s just a fun place to visit.

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After that we went back to Wiessen, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, “G” and I went back for seconds and even thirds on our quest to drink our way through Oktoberfest. With 34 tents after day two we realized there was no way we would get to see them all so we just focused on the ones we wanted to see and enjoyed the most. That meant we kept ending up at ***it was the best combination of music and revelry that we found. The crown was a mix of young and old, but it was the band that just kept the place rocking and by about 3 PM you found yourself standing on the table with the rest of your new friends singing and drinking along with the other locals and tourists. What a blast.

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Photography, Review, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally here Oktoberfest day 1

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I finally made it to Mecca. Oktoberfest , Munich Germany. We arrived in Germany on the second weekend of this amazing festival of beer. I really really didn’t know what to expect except that I knew there would be a lot of people and a lot of beer. This was the 173 annual festival of Princess Therese’s marriage to King Ludwig.

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I was just amazed at the nationalism that the German locals showed. It seemed most were in lederhosen and dirndls. It was just really really cool to see the pride of a nation at a festival. I really just can’t think of anything here that comes even close. Sure there’s fourth of July and yes fireworks, but people don’t get dressed up in a national outfit let alone just a sense of pride. Even though is great emphasis to beer drinking here, there’s also a huge fair, festival and lots and lots of food too. Think of the state fair times 10.

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Inside the tents was still a pretty crazy site. Most tents hold over 4000 people, although I think there are a few that hold well over 10,000 and many tables are reserved one year in advance for a meal. So when we tried to rent a table for any time during the Wiessen, we were shut out. Which meant we had to find a table that was not reserved and either empty (never such luck), or ask people if we could sit with them. Thankfully we were always able to find someplace to sit, we may have had to ask 3-4 times at different places, but every time we went into a tent we were eventually successful.

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Every tent had an oompah band, and they play classic German songs and even in some cases 80’s one hit wonders too. It was funny though the band really set the mood for the tent. Of the 8-10 tents we checked out, there were 34, the more festive tents were the ones that played a great mix of oompah and songs from Neil Diamond, Gloria Gainer and Credence Clear Water. It was really funny to hear some of these songs in English and then sung in German, I don’t speak a lick of it, but could sing along in English it was just great.

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There was also the occasional person that would stand up and shotgun a Mas of beer (1 liter), in this case the crazy guy finished his first then put the Mas down and grabbed number two, and downed that one with authority. All I can say is wow.

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Paulaner seating chart

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, The wish list, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory, Nemo

My kid loves the aquarium, anytime we tell her we’re going it really makes her day and I just love that. “S” loves the ocean, loves looking at fish and just can’t get enough of it, just like I did when I was young. Last weekend we spend a very nice afternoon at the Academy of Sciences and the Steinhardt Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. We have an annual pass and do our best to get there as often as we can, that being said it’s probably been three months since I’ve been there. This place is just amazing, and every visit I marvel at how great a place it is, coupled with the fact that I get to see it with a new set of eyes, just make it that much cooler.

The funny part about coming here or going any place that has an aquarium, is that “S’s” first words are always where’s Nemo and Dory. It’s pretty amazing she’s only two years old and knows who they are and knows what they look like. I guess we’ve trained her well, ha ha. But seriously, that’s the only movie she’s ever seen, granted about five times maybe more, but she’s incredibly observant. Damn smart kids. The funny part is that she saw the movie on our trip to the Maldives last December on the inflight TV, and ever since when she sees a TV on a plane she expects they will play it. Oh how little she knows about air travel.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves about the Academy, but I will say that if you’re ever in the city this is definitely a place to check out for sure.
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Categories: Americana, Family, Ordinary Life, Photography, Random, Review, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Run Disney Run

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Well as promised here’s part two of our trip to Disneyland . The main purpose of this trip was to support my way better half in her quest to run and complete her second 10k (6.2 miles) in case you were curious. Let’s start off by saying she did great!!! And I’m way way proud of her for this major accomplishment, it’s definitely a proud moment to see your best friend work towards and complete a challenge like this. Major Kudos wifey.

So our trip started out with a 9 am JetBlue flight from SFO, because it was the long weekend and with the Bay Bridge shut down for the final construction to connect the new Eastern Span, we had to go over the San Mateo Bridge. With this many variables, we had an early day and left the house at 6 am. Plus once we got to SFO we had a rental car to gas up and drop off at the central rental car center (this ended up being a huge stroke of luck on our return) and bags to check. Travelling with a child is so much different than travelling solo. For a three night trip, we had three suitcases, a car seat, stroller, my backpack, a diaper bag and a little backpack full of toys for “S”. Man I’m just tired thinking about it. I wanted to take a picture of our treasure trove, but in all out haste I didn’t.

We made it to the airport in an hour and a half which was not too bad, I dropped off the girls, and my wife became a Sherpa carrying all the bags except for my carryon and suitcase. Since we had three tickets she could check our other two bags, stroller and car seat for free so I sent her off with all the stuff. In our travels with our kid, we’ve found it easier to drop off one parent first, then drop off the car and meet up after security. As opposed to us attempting to lug all our stuff from some parking lot or air train station to the airport. Obviously the best option is a private car or shuttle directly to the airport, but a long weekend parking fees and the like vs. a rental car paid with on points was really a good alternative.

Breakfast the most important meal of the day

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My family

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After security I met the family at a coffee shop, we had a quick breakfast and then spent the last hour or so looking for planes. “S” loves airplanes and is always quick to point them out when we’re at home and she sees them in the air or at the airport. Whatever it takes to entertain a 2+ YO. Well we made it to Long Beach w/out a hitch, having TV on the plane and lots of new toys really helps. My only gripe was two kids channels and what are they showing Adult Swim and Family Guy, not exactly kid friendly programming, needless to say the route map seemed to work ok. We did have stuff on the iPad, but we just never pulled it out. Toys and some TV for an hour flight worked out great. Thankfully this was not our first flight with the munchkin so we at least have the airplane part mostly down pat.

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Handy Manny managed to stow away on our flight

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So onto Disneyland we had a day at the park before the race and spent most of the day at California Adventure. With the last two years’ worth of remodeling and renewing the park it’s really a great place to hang out. Plus there are tons of rides for little ones to do there. I think we spent most of our time at Grizzly Peak (formerly Brother Bear), so “S” could run around and climb stuff, we also did the Chew Chew Train at least 5 times, I love that ride. Besides that California Screaming single rider, and no “S” didn’t get to do that one, and then lots of time was spent at the Triton’s Merry-Go-Round. Since we had so many days at the park, and have been here so many times, we’re never in a hurry to do a specific ride, and if I miss out on something this trip there’s always the next one, so I never feel like I’ve missed out on something. This particularly holds true with a little one, there are only so many rides they can do, and there’s only so many times you want to go on a ride solo, that if you learn to reduce expectations, and attempt to take it easy, you can still have a great time. We also really tried to stay close to our kids sleep schedule and only one night did we stay out longer than an hour past bedtime. Sure that can make for a short night, but raising a kid is a marathon not a sprint, and we’ll have plenty of time to spoil and ruin her, and this was not one of those times.
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She’s never seen Cars but loves Lightning McQueen
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Her first time on Midway Mania and definitely not her last
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Race Day was finally here, and my wife was out the door by 4:45 AM, the race started at 6:15 and she had to get from the Anaheim Hilton to the race start so an early start was really necessary. Thankfully the kid and I slept in to 7 AM and were able to make it to the park to see her finish the race. Since we were not staying at the part we could, walk, drive or take a bus. We opted for option three since racers and their family got a free bus pass for the weekend, and it really was an easy way to get to the park. Sure lugging a kid, stroller and diaper bag on and off a bus plus navigating Downtown Disney which was part of the race course was a challenge, but worth it, to see my wife running. Run Disney does a pretty good job of alerting family of their racers position so we found a spot and waited. The wait was worth it and in no time flat mommy was running by. By 8 AM it was already 80 plus and humid and would hit 90 plus by mid-day, by far terrible running conditions and weather that made for a very warm weekend. According to my local friends it was the hottest weekend of the summer. I could have easily changed my shirt multiple times during the day.

Throughout the weekend we had a great time. Even though there were some 7,000 runners for the 10k and over 10,000 for the half marathon the next day, the parks were quite. We never had a stand-by line more than 45 minutes, and the longest fast pass wait I saw was 3 hours. Popular rides like Midway Mania, Indiana Jones and Radiator Springs Racers were easy waits. Unlike many other trips where by 11 am RSR fast pass was sold out, we had easy waits. This made for a really fun trip, since we could do what we wanted and at the pace we wanted too. Plus we had lots of friends visit and hangout with us every day, which always makes Disneyland that much more fun.

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Less then 2/10th of a mile to go and she’s still smiling
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I predict many long lines in my future to visit Minnie, Mickey and all of the Princesses
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Sadly Monday afternoon came quickly and it was time to go home. Again we were flying JetBlue to SFO, or so we thought. We arrived 2 hours before our flight to LGB to find that our flight was delayed. Dam it!! We were scheduled for a 5:25 PM flight and at present it was delayed to 7:30 PM, in fact every flight out of LGB was delayed from 3:30 PM on except for 2 on the board. For those of you not familiar with JetBlue, LGB, JFK and OAK are their main focus cities, so having that many flights delayed here was really a bummer. Between 3:30 and midnight there were four flights to the Bay Area and all delayed. UUGH. So at this point we had a choice sit and wait for our flight hopefully 7:30, fly to Sacramento at 6:30 also delayed or fly to Oakland delayed to 8:30. We choose door number two, even though it was to SAC it was scheduled to leave earlier and we just needed to get home, I had a 6 Am flight from OAK to Las Vegas the next morning. This is where the rental car came in handy, we didn’t have a car to get at SFO, and since we had arranged to get a rental car back home all we had to do was switch the rental car pickup. Plus that meant we didn’t have to avoid the Bay Bridge that was still closed and was scheduled to open Tuesday at 5 AM. To cut a long story short our flight to Sac left about 8 PM we arrived in Sac by 9:30 we were in our car by 10 and home by 11:15 PM. The flight to SFO left LGB at 10:30 PM so definitely a smart decision on our part. Ironically the main reason we flew JetBlue was because back in January we flew them down to Disneyland and were similarly delayed and received a $100 per person credit, that almost paid for our tickets this time, I think we paid $29 per person more out of pocket this time. On this trip, we got a credit unfortunately it was only $50 but hey that’s almost a one way ticket for next time.

Overall a very successful weekend jaunt to LA and Disneyland, we got a lot of family quality time, friend time and park time. Even with a few travel snafu’s life moves on and you just need to roll with it. We had a great time and look forward to the next trip, already planned for January, and yes the boss is running her first half marathon, and we’ll be there to root her on.

Categories: Airlines, Airport, Americana, Disney, JetBlue, Photography, Review, Run Disney, Sports, Travel, Traveling with kids, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When NO NO is a good thing

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Ok first off let me say that if I could pick I would rather see a No Hitter for my team and not against. But since you can’t pick if you’ll ever get to see a No Hitter or a Perfect Game live I’ll take what I can get. “T” and I were in Cincinnati for the second part of our baseball road trip. The Giants lost two of three in Colorado (they won the game we didn’t go to). They had four games in Cincy and we were seeing the first two there. We still had high hopes for a few wins, but with the way the team was playing my hopes were not high.

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After a miserable loss in game one where the Reds scored 8 runs in the first two innings and the Giants starter was pulled after two innings with almost a 14 ERA, there was really no shot for a win that day. So after three games in four days we’d seen three losing affairs. In fact the Giants were riding six losses out of seven games. Ouch. So June 2nd rolls around, Tim Lincecum was pitching against Homer Baily neither of which were having good seasons, both had losing records Timmy was 4-8 and Homer was like 5-7. After a few lackluster seasons I didn’t expect much from Timmy, I think I have not seen him win a game since 2009, and I’ve been lucky to see him play many times over the past five or six years, and have even seen him pitch in the 2010 playoffs. For a guy to have two Cy Young awards in back to back seasons just a few years ago, and fall as far as he has minus an amazing 2012 playoff stint from the bullpen. Oh well, but the Giants had history against Baily he was throwing a one hitter last year in the playoffs, and Dusty Baker, the Reds coach, pulled him in the first round series and the rest is history. Oh and by the way Baily threw a No No last year only 19 starts ago.
Anyhow, by the fifth inning I was thinking we were looking at something special. Baily was efficient on the field he had a few strike outs and was managing to keep a sad line up from making any contact with the ball. By the sixth, the Reds fans around us, “T” and I thought of the almost impossible A Perfect Game. By the seventh the stadium was electric; with every out the fans were going crazy. I was saying everything you would normally not talk about during A Perfect Game. If you’re a baseball fan you know what I mean. This was the Reds for crying out loud, if it was the Giants throwing this amazing game, I would never ever ever say Perfect Game or No Hitter. Alas in the seventh Bailey gave up a walk, the fans were still cheering but we were all a bit sad that the Perfect Game was not intact. Just in case I have a few readers that don’t know the difference between a Perfect Game and No Hitter.Alas in the seventh Bailey gave up a walk, the fans were still cheering but we were all a bit sad that the Perfect Game was not intact. Just in case I have a few readers that don’t know the difference between a Perfect Game and No Hitter. A PG is not allowing any batter to reach base in any fashion. There are 27 outs, so that means recording all 27 out’s by strike out, fly out or ground ball. In the history of Baseball there have only been 27 PG’s. A NH is when a batter reached based either by walking, error or hit by pitch. In other words, not getting a hit, but still allowing a runner to reach base. In the 100 plus years of baseball there have been 327 No Hitters. In that span there have been roughly 200,000 regular season games. So seeing a No No is incredibly special. I personally only know four people besides myself that have seen one in person. I know I’m geeking out here, but what can I say. I never thought I’d get to see one and I’m just tickled pink that I got to check off another bucket list item.
So fast forward to the ninth inning and the Gants have still only had one base runner on that walk in the seventh, no one else has even gotten close to getting a hit, so the No No was still intact. By this time, there was no choice but to root for the No No, we were standing and cheering along with the other 27,000, hoping to see history in the making. I was cheering and getting horse like everyone else. With two out and Gregor Blanco at bat, all it took was a soft liner and the ballpark exploded when history was made. What a damn cool experience to be a part of. To think “T” and I planned this trip in February with no other criteria that this series was after Colorado, and I could get the time off from work. Plus it let us see four games on the road and knock off another ballpark, neither of us had seen.
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Some funny stats form the game and more recently. The No Hitter was on July 2, 2013 the losing pitcher was Tim Lincecum. 11 days later Tim Lincecum on July 13 threw his own no hitter in San Diego against the Padres. It was the first time since 1906 that a pitcher was involved in two No No’s in the same year. Crazy, let’s hope that they can keep this crazy stuff up. The Reds are in San Francisco this week to play four games against the Giants, and Timmy is pitching but not against Baily. Stay tuned.

Categories: Americana, Baseball, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Baseball or bust in Denver, Colorado

Well my second road trip of the year finally happened. Unfortunately the results were not so great for the SF Giants, but for my buddy “T” and I we had a great time. Our trip started at the end of June in Colorado, we were here to see two of the three Giants games against the Rockies. Unfortunately coming into the trip the G men were on a 3 game losing streak, and sadly they continued this awful streak of losing the next two games we saw. Worse yet they were walk off affairs that the Rockies managed to steal away from the good guys.
Regardless of the results, we had a great time. The city is beautiful with a very active outdoor vibe. There were tons of walking trails, lots of outdoor activities and to boot 16th Street in downtown was a great hang out spot to have a few suds before or after the game.

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The ballpark is in LODO (lower downtown), and has revitalized this area, like a lot of other newer ballparks have done over the years in their cities. The park itself fits really well into the area with lots of brick and has an old warehouse vibe. The sightlines inside the park are also pretty sweet too. It was a pretty nice hang out, and if I wasn’t so partial to AT&T, I may rank this as my number one park, that being said its top five for sure.

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Well man can’t live on baseball alone, so what do you do with all that free time between games, you eat of course. I’m not known for missing many meals and although “T” will never admit he’s a foodie too, he’s not one to ever complain about a good meal. So I did my best to find a few good places to eat at. As a big fan of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives on the food network I do my best to eat at the ones that intrigue me when I can. And most of the time Guy Fieri doesn’t lead me astray. Lucky for us there were three in Denver that sounded great with one of them across the street from our hotel. Score!
We managed to hit The Atomic Cowboy first. This was a really great food spot, but a weird restaurant. It was three places in one. There was a bar and two food joints, the Atomic Cowboy, Denver Biscuit Company and Fat Sulley’s. So basically three places in one. I had the chicken biscuit with honey and whole grain mustard and it was to die for. In fact quite possibly the best biscuit I’ve ever had. It may have been a very simple meal but it was just delicious. Perfectly fired chicken and a light but dense and soft biscuit. My mouth is just watering as I write this.
The second spot we tried was Sam’s No 3. It was diner and had a huge huge menu with breakfast served all day. We went there for a late night snack after drowning our sorrows in beer and another Giant loss. I know that plate seems like a huge pile of gravy and yes there was a lot, but below that gravy goodness was a fried bone in pork chop, home fries two over hard eggs and for desert biscuits with more gravy. This was a damn good comfort meal, I could have done without the biscuit and gravy, it was just ok, but the rest of the meal kicked butt. Sadly if we had not had two other outstanding meals this would rank higher on the list, but when you seek out good restaurants, there’s bound to be a bottom choice even if the bottom choice was still good. Is there such a thing as third place winner?
Lastly was probably the best of the bunch Prohibition Bar, this place epitomizes the Dive. It was close to downtown in a neighborhood, but maybe on the edge of the good part. There seemed to be a homeless shelter or halfway house nearby, and a lot of stores with bars on the windows. Don’t get me wrong I felt very safe in this area and would have no problem going back. In fact the place was packed for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon. I had the best burger I’ve had in a long time, well that is until later in the trip in Cincinnati (review to come). It was two beef patties with bacon, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, sliced apple and of course blue cheese. It was damn good. To wash it down I had a Kentucky Mule Whiskey, lemon and ginger beer in a cold cold copper cup. If I had to be honest I don’t know which was better.

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I don’t have much to say about out hotel, except to say I would definitely go back. It was the Curtis Hotel; it was downtown 2 blocks from 16th street and was a cool hip spot. It’s actually a Doubletree Hilton Hotel so I earned points too and got free breakfast. I’m always looking for ways to earn points and continue my quest for status. Besides a few discrete Hilton touches you’d think this was a very unique boutique hotel. The lobby was small but hip and had a lot of 50’s throwback touches. Notice the lamp straight out of A Christmas Story, I wonder if it’s fragile.
I would definitely stay here again, it was a really good location, had a cool vibe and was attached to an even hipper Martini Bar, and although I’m sure I brought down the hipness 10 points just by stepping in there. But hey they didn’t kick me out, for being uncool, so it’s not my fault.

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So to sum it all up, if you find yourself in Denver be sure to visit the Prohibition Bar, catch a game at Coors Field, and be sure to stay at the Curtis. Denver is a town worth visiting.

Categories: Americana, Baseball, Food, Hilton Hotels, Hotels, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roasted Marshmallows and Redwood Tree’s

Like millions of other Americans over the Memorial Day weekend the family and I went camping. Most years we usually go out twice, but in the past two years with a little kid running around the house we were just not that adventurous. With S turning two very soon, we thought it was about time to rip off the band aide and go camping. We had picked the Richardson Grove State Park on a recommendation of some friends and we were not disappointed. It’s about 200 miles north of San Francisco just past the Mendocino county border in Humboldt County right off US 101. Even though this is a major freeway in many parts of CA, where the campground is, it’s a narrow one lane freeway (in each direction). There is just something to be said about disconnecting from the everyday hustle and bustle from TV’s, internet and all things electronic. You are reminded about how beautiful this country is, and about all the bounty it has to offer. And most importantly spending time with family without the daily distractions of life. We had a really great time and I would definitely recommend this campground again. The sites were very very large, they were not on top of each other and the grounds were spotless. Thanks California for doing something right in these tight budget times. Below you’ll see a few of my favorite parts of hanging out in the redwoods.

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Categories: Ordinary Life, Photography, Random, Review, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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