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I thought Montana was Trump country. Maybe not Bozeman. The

Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus

got my attention. But I didn’t realize that there was a photobomb of two young kids in need of a room in the front until after I took the photo.

Great times in Bozeman, Montana.

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I have never seen a total solar eclipse. As we are preparing for our trip to Montana and Idaho to be there in the path of totality on August 21 in Idaho Falls, I came across this video that describes the experience. Now I am getting excited.

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One thing you can say about Trisha – she knows how to have fun. This afternoon, she treated me to a ride in a biplane over San Diego. What better thing is there to do for no particular reason at all?

Here is the plane. As in all photos in this post, you can click on it to enlarge. Everyone who lives in San Diego has seen this blue and red biplane in the sky at one time or another. The plane was built in 1927. It is thirty years older than I am, and by far the oldest plane I have ever been in. Think of it. The Wright Brothers first flew in 1903. This plane was built just 24 years after that!

We’re gonna fly!

Here we are over the ocean, looking back to the Torrey Pines glider port. The cliff was swarming with paragliders. We stayed offshore so we didn’t get too close to any of them. If you zoom in and carefully look by the red arrows, you see a couple of them.

Below at the blue arrow is the infamous San Diego Blacks Beach. Do you see any of the nude sunbathers? I looked, but they were too far away.

We turned around and headed for La Jolla. Here is a quick video looking over the hood.

Speaking of La Jolla, here is a good look down at the famous La Jolla cove. You can see all the people on the beach.

And here is a view of the little cove (upper right) where there is a lot of controversy because it’s been taken over by seals. Some want to ban the seals, because they pollute the beach. Others say it’s their beach. Leave them alone.

Looking back, you can see our pilot. How in the world he can see anything back there is beyond me! He pretty much flies the plane looking sideways and down. At one time he pointed out a school of dolphins in the water near the beach and pointed the wing down at them was we circled over the spot checking them out.

Heading back inland now, here is a great view of Mission Bay.

Here is one of the San Diego canyons, with downtown in the back on the left.

Snoopy was also busy taking pictures. All that was missing was her scarf flying behind her in the wind.

Finally, our approach back to the runway. The plan just dive bombed down for the approach. The landing took what seemed just a few seconds.

And that was a superb way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. It’s called an “Adventure.”

 

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If you have traveled in Europe and stayed in hotels, you are probably familiar with the power interlock for hotel keys. It works this way: Inside your hotel room, near your door, there is a slot, which fits the door key card. The hotel only gives each guest one key. As you enter the room, you insert your key card into the slot, and all power in the room is enabled. Without the card in that slot, there are no lights in the room.

Then, when you leave the room, you need to bring your key, and it turns off all lights automatically. While this seems odd and inconvenient, it works quite well and I am sure it reduces unneeded power consumption in hotel rooms.

Some American hotels are now trying this concept, and it is failing ludicrously.

I am currently staying at a Hilton Garden Inn in Olympia, Washington. This hotel has such a system. You can see the slot, with a hotel business card inserted at the red arrow in the photograph above.

Since Americans are likely to never have seen such a system, the desk clerk is spending extra time with every guest explaining in advance how the system works. I am sure too many guests call down and complain that there is no power in the room. Here is the solution applied in this Hilton Garden Inn:

  1. The hotel desk clerk spends an extra minute or two with each guest explaining this feature. Guests are baffled, as I observed as I stood in line. Guests could not figure out what this was all about.
  2. The desk clerk gives every guest a hotel business card to insert into the slot so he doesn’t have to use the key.
  3. I noticed that the housekeeping service plays right along with this. When I came back to my room at night, the room had been cleaned, the business card was in the slot, and all the lights were on.

Clearly, there is a serious disconnect between this hotel’s management and its power-saving initiative, and the hotel staff that sabotages the effort.

Here in America we like our lights on – bright.

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I recently rented a brand-new Toyota Corolla. It had 1 mile on the odometer when I drove it out of the lot.

Since I have Southern California driving habits, which results in 80 mph speeds, I usually apply the cruise control in other states to avoid running into speed traps. New York State Troopers do no look kindly upon California speeders on their roads. So while going down the New York Thruway, I turned it on cruise control and set the speed to 72 mph.

I quickly noticed that it automatically adjusted down its speed when the car in front of me was going slower, and then sped up again when things cleared up. It also warned me with a gentle beep when I got too near the left or right lane markers, unless I indicated a lane change using my turn signal ahead of time. The slowing down went all the way to a full brake and stop when I was on a one lane road and the car in front of me had stopped for a left turn.

What surprised me was how quickly I adjusted my own driving habits to this feature. I would drive with the cruise control on and let the car do its driving. I simply took care of the steering.

Then I remembered that this was a rental car, and in a few days I’d be back to driving my 2011 Prius, which does not have these features. I thought I’d better not get used to the car slowing down automatically, lest I have some surprises rear-ending other cars.

I liked these advancements in this car, and I was surprised that I found them in a lowly car like the Toyota Corolla. I have to admit, though, as much as I liked the driver-assist features, I did not like its steering. The wheel seemed loose and not responsive. It drove a bit like a boat, albeit a small one, and as a result, I would not want to buy this car.

The driver-assist features were great, though.

 

 

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I am staying at the Embassy Suites in Syracuse.

Check out the paint job on the bathroom door! All the doors in this room looked like this.

This is how much this hotel pays attention to detail!

It made me wonder how clean my sheets are.

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New York City [click to enlarge]

The tip of Manhattan from a ferry. The Statue of Liberty is right in front of the World Trade Center One tower. The Empire State Building is faintly visible on the left side of the picture.

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photo credit: Imgur

Not only does this make me want to ride this road,
but it reminds me of this climb.

Good Times!

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Today, as many times before, I got a notice that one of my flights was delayed, and I realized that I’d need to rebook my connection. I carry my American Airlines Platinum Card with me, which contains the phone number to call for service.

It’s on the back of a light gray card in light gray TINY font. The photograph above is actually a magnification to double the size of the card, and I can actually read the number.

In the “real world” with the card in my hand, that is impossible. My 60-year-old eyes, with bifocals, cannot possibly read anything on the back of this card. The font is too small, and then it’s gray on gray, with very little contrast.

What is American Airlines thinking?

There is so much white space on this card. They could easily double the font size. They could make it bold, dark black on white, so you can read it with ease in a poorly lit airline gate area, the card on your knee while you’re fiddling with your phone.

This is not limited to American Airlines. I just checked a few other cards, like my Hilton Hotels card, and it’s got the same problem.

American Airlines – not all your customers are young eagles or owls with night vision eyesight.

We can’t read your cards!

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Oh, No, They Gave me a Hearse!

Ford Flex

When I picked up my rental car yesterday, I was in shock. It looked like a hearse! It was black! Since I had never seen one of these before, I had to look it up. It was a Ford Flex.

As ugly as it looked, it felt really good driving it. What is more important about a car, whether it feels good, or whether it looks good?

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Seattle from the Air

Seattle from the Air – click to enlarge

Downtown Seattle from the air. You can see the (tiny) Space Needle right  above the engine.

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[click to enlarge]

For decades, when you drove north on I-5 from San Diego in the spring, you could see the colorful bands of the Carlsbad Flower Fields on the right as you passed Palomar Airport Road. I remember pulling off at that exit, parking by the side of the road, and walking in awe among the endless rows of flowers.

After not stopping for many years, I did last week, and learned that the entire area is now fenced in, and very difficult to see from the road. The picture above I snuck from a parking lot nearby, zooming between two trees and over the fence. Also, the condos in the back weren’t there in the olden days.

What’s worse, to get in, you now have to pay a $14 entry fee at a ticket booth. It’s like at the zoo. There are discounts for seniors and children. Then there are turnstiles to get in, and really, there is no good way to see what’s in there without buying that ticket.

I didn’t buy one.

But I thought I should show you a glimpse of the famous Carlsbad Flower Fields.

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Ohio State House

…with a drug prevention rally taking place in front of it.

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[click for picture credit: Reddit]

I have recommended that people stop flying United. It’s not good for the morale. There are plenty of other airlines that beat their prices, not their customers.

But if you bought your tickets months or even weeks ago, and you can’t get a refund, I recommend that you bring a boxing helmet on board with you. Here is what it looks like on United flights these days.

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The CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, now blames the customer. He said he was belligerent and raised his voice.

No shit!

If the airline had not bumped a paying customer off a flight, I can guarantee you the customer would not have been belligerent.

So, folks, be aware, you can book a flight with United Airlines, and if for any reason they don’t want you on the plane, you’re on your own. If you insist, they have you beaten bloody by airport security. Then it’s your fault. They make you the “bad guy.”

Go ahead, book your travels on United!

Makes for exciting travels!

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