1 0 Tag Archives: travel
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memories of western Europe

drinking Stiegl beerwhile mucking around in my web directories, I found this page that I made seven and a half years back, and promptly forgot about – part one (though I don’t think I ever made a part two) of a chronicle of Yvonne and my adventures in Europe. This was our last big trip before we had Callum (who is now six and a half). Kind of neat to find this… almost like finding an old scrapbook stashed away in the bottom of a dresser drawer somewhere, but of the virtual kind.

plus, I could really go for one of those big ol’ Stiegl beers right about now…

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Johnson City

for Christmas and New Years the gang and I are in Johnson City, Tennessee, visiting Yvonne’s brother Robert. When we first got here we got to play in the snow a bit, but it quickly melted and since then it’s been pretty mild.

as far as life is concerned, things are status quo, and the new year is almost upon us. 2009 has been a pretty good year – the kids are great, Yvonne has been doing well, work is good (we had several successful releases of Blackbaud Direct Marketing this year, plus I got PMP and ScrumMaster certified!) and I’ve been getting back into playing and producing music, which has been a blast and I feel has enriched my life.

and that’s it for the annual recap – at least ’til this time next year!

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trains a-plenty

watching trains in Folkston, Georgiathe two eldest kids and I are in Folkston, Georgia, Gateway to the Okefenokee Swamp. We’re here staying at the Roadmaster’s Lodge, a small one-room hotel that was built in 1889 to serve as the office of the Roadmaster in the Folkston area. Yes, we drove four and a half hours to come watch some trains. Here are the kids watching a passing freight – you will notice that they each have portable DVD players for when there aren’t any trains to watch – yes, I came prepared!

the town of Folkston has a really great Railfan Platform with a radio scanner (to hear the engineers talking to one another), picnic tables, power outlets, and yes, Wi-Fi Internet. When we got there there were already three or four railfans down by the tracks with their cameras and tripods, taking pictures. Most of the trains have been CSX mixed freights or intermodals, with a few Amtrak passenger consists thrown in.

one cool application I downloaded this morning is the ATCS Monitor, a railroad data, CTC monitor and display. It shows real-time data of where trains are located north and south along the line, so we can figure out when trains will be passing by Folkston, and from which direction they’ll be coming. Here’s an example of what it looks like.

we’ll be heading back to Charleston tomorrow morning, after another noisy night (yes, the trains keep coming through all through the night, which would perhaps be annoying normally, but hey – that’s why we’re here). The kids have had a great time so far! And, well… so have I!

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oh that’s too bad

from the Dublin Airport web site:

“The following items must not be packed in your hand luggage. They must be placed in your hold baggage. If these items are discovered in your hand luggage you will be requested to surrender the items for disposal:

  • Scissors (except where both blades are round-ended or less than three centimetres).
  • Razor blades (razors that have the blade set into a plastic moulding are allowed, but razors that can be opened and the razor blade removed are prohibited).
  • Knives with blades of any length.
  • Household cutlery (spoons are permitted).
  • Hypodermic needles (unless required for medical reasons, for which proof will be required).
  • Tools (including multi-tools and penknives).
  • Catapults.
  • Corkscrews.
  • Walking/hiking poles.
  • Toy/replica guns (metal or plastic).
  • Sporting bats, tennis rackets.
  • Darts.
  • Billiard, snooker or pool cues.”
  • damn. And here I was hoping to bring my catapult on board the plane with me. Looks like I won’t be laying siege to anything during the flight back to Canada :(

    now all I have to do is figure out how to cram it into a suitcase…

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    18. Oct, 2006
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    baguettes for everyone

    I am back in France. The trip was long (from 8AM EST yesterday until about 5PM France time today) and arduous (highlights included sitting in a tiny plane on the runway at Pearson for an hour and a half, and sitting in the train station in Paris for a good three and a half hours – I would have done some good old fashioned ‘splorin’, but I had my suitcases and was already oh so tired).

    more news later (when something happens)!

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    10. Oct, 2005
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    where am I?

    I am in France.

    The past two days have seemed more like a single long day of traveling to me – I flew Continental from Toronto to Newark, and then from Newark to Paris through the night. The flights were uneventful, but they could have been eventful. When I got to Pearson airport (in Toronto) the lady at the counter told me that the flight from Toronto to Newark was delayed and that I would most likely miss my flight to Paris. I had two choices; get comped a hotel in Toronto, or fly to Newark to get a hotel comped there. I figured that since it looked like I had a good 10 minutes to get to my Paris flight once I got to Newark, I’d take my chances. At any rate, the lady at the counter called me up a while later and mentioned that she had to change my seat; she bumped me to first class so that I could be the first one out the door (well, I was the second – there was a guy flying to Birmingham, England whose flight left 10 minutes before mine did, though his gate was much closer than mine).

    At any rate, once I got to Newark I bolted for my connecting flight. Unfortunately, it was way far away from my terminus of arrival (so to speak). Fortunately, I am way speedy, and I got there just as the last travelers were boarding the plane. Not to mention that Continental has some sort of system where your luggage somehow manages to get on your plane if you yourself get on it, and stay at the airport if you don’t, so my luggage arrived safely in Paris (and so did I).

    Once in France I took the metro to the Gare de Lyon in central Paris, and then a four hour train ride on the TGV to Clermont-Ferrand. What’s strange is that I somehow managed to bump into Alex, a student who had completed an exchange at the University of South Carolina last year, on the train, which is bizarre considering he’s one of very few people that I actually know in France, and the only one who I have had any contact with during the past decade. So when we arrived in town at about 6:00 PM he walked with me to the school and I managed to find my temporary lodging; I don’t know how I could have managed that without his help before everyone went home for the night. The streets here are narrow and cranky and quaint (typically French).

    I am staying temporarily at the Couvent de Bon Pasteur, an old convent from the 1600s that has recently been turned into a residence of sorts for certain types of students (including those who have just arrived on exchange). It’s a very cool place – I love locations with such history behind them. This morning at breakfast (which is provided free to residents) I met a sister at the convent who has lived there (for the most part) since 1941. Pretty amazing.

    Afterwards some German students and I went out for dinner (pizza) and beer (1648), and I fell asleep at about 11:00, which is good considering it’s a step in the right direction toward eliminating jet lag. Today I went to the school and started getting my courses sorted out.

    I must say that I am quite lonely and miss my family quite a bit, but I won’t complain about that too much here – suffice to say that I will be glad when they come to stay with me after I find a permanent residence and Amelia gets her American passport. It’s amazing how things change when you have a family and a home that you love; I can sort of understand how the soldiers in Iraq must feel, though of course their situation is much worse than my own as at least my life isn’t endangered every day that I am here. Nonetheless, it makes me appreciate what I have very much.

    Off to a quick meeting with the Dean!

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    31. Aug, 2005