Thursday, May 7, 2009

New England Islands Cruise 2008 Index Page

The New England Islands Cruise 2008 blog journal reads from most recent to oldest, if downloaded using the New England 2008 label tag. We have created this index page to enable the reader to peruse the postings in chronological order, and to read each posting as a separate Web page. Just click the links below, to access the individual posts:

Preliminary Planning For The Trip

Pre-Cruise Day 1 in Downtown Providence

Pre-Cruise Day 2 in Providence Neighborhoods

Pre-Cruise Day 3 in Providence-Excursion to Bristol, RI

American Spirit Features and Daily Routine

Day 1: Boarding the American Spirit

Day 2: New Bedford, MA

Day 3: Nantucket, MA

Day 4: Martha's Vineyard, MA

Day 5: Bristol, RI

Day 6: Newport, RI

Day 7: Extra Day in Newport

Day 8: Return to Providence, RISD Gala Opening

Wrap Up of Our Cruise Experience

Post Cruise Day in Providence: Afternoon with the Ewens

Note: the Bristol, RI postings were combined into one installment for convenience.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Welcome to Our Blog!


We began this blog in March, 2008 at the suggestion of our friend, Jack Brandais, who was instrumental in getting us started. Thank you, Jack!

Some of Our Favorite Travel-Related Web Sites:

Jack Brandais has a great Web site focusing on the California travel scene as well as the car culture. Be sure to visit WeekendDriver for his insightful posts and articles.

Another excellent travel Web site is Bill and Nancy Bamberger's Travels with Bill and Nancy, wherein they present photo and video travel journals of their trips all over the world. They display their full range of multi-media capabilities, as can be seen by visiting Bill and Nancy Interactive, their San Diego-based Web design and multi-media company.

A rich source of road trip ideas is
Huell Howser’s California's Gold Web site. Huell has been producing his series of (mostly) California videos since 1991. California's Gold’s home page organizes his video series by topic for easy browsing. Road Trip #143, State of Jefferson, inspired our riff on that topic in our Wilderville piece. Although the Web site serves as a vehicle for selling his DVDs, he has provided a link to PBS TV station KCET, Los Angeles, which has archived selected episodes for online viewing via streaming technology. When visiting this link, be sure to explore the “Popular Tags” links for additional episodes.

An up-and-coming source for San Diego County ideas is the PBS TV Station KPBS series Wonderland, narrated by native San Diegan Noah Tafolla. Each half-hour episode features (1) a community within the City of San Diego (for example Ocean Beach, Gaslamp); (2) a community elsewhere in San Diego County (for example National City, Julian); or (3) a topical subject (for example Great Italian Food, San Diego During World War II). We especially like the way he integrates historical footage and details, to provide context for the narrative. His early 2010 episode about Oceanside inspired our "staycation" trip

For fans of Japan, we came across Dr. Galen R. Frysinger's superb Web site on his travels. Check out his Japan collection to see what we mean.

We will add other favorites as we encounter them.

Here are the direct links to the travel postings we have published so far:

Chef's Holiday Yosemite (January 2008)
Anza-Borrego Desert Flower Display (March 2008, 2009)
Wilderville (April 2008)
Wilderville (May 2009)
Montana Road Trip (June 2008)
New England Cruise (September 2008)
OAT Japan 2009 (March-April 2009)
Chef's Holiday Yosemite-2009 Update (September 2009)
"Staycation" trips to Fallbrook, Valley Center, Ramona, Anza Borrego, Oceanside, Idyllwild, and Santa Fe #3751 (Steam Train) (2009-10).

Additionally, we contributed to an article on Jack's Web site about Hearst's Hacienda (Be sure to click
Hearst's Hacienda in the L.A. Times in the archives).

Finally, we had to tell the world about the completion of the undergrounding project on our street, Pacifica Drive, San Diego.

We will also publish postings on other topics that are of interest to us, and it is hoped, to you.

Note: due to a recent health diagnosis, our days of extensive travel are likely over. Future postings will consist of "Staycation" daytrips as well as POSTscripts or updates of archived postings from our archives.

Suggestions for Enjoying our Blogs:

You can enlarge the photos to fill screen size by clicking them. Return to the text by using your browser's back button.

We also tried to provide additional information and insight by creating links to other Web pages. Try clicking the colored links to see what happens!

Some of our readers have suggested we find a way to format our journals so that they can be read in chronological order from oldest to newest posts instead of the reverse, which is the nature of the Web blog beast. Until we come up with something better, we have created index pages for our longest blogs, New England Islands Cruise 2008 and OAT Japan 2009.


Doug & Marie

Friday, May 1, 2009

OAT Japan, Wednesday, April 1, 2009:

The 48-hour Day Return Home (At Least It Seemed That Way)

We all had our last breakfast together at the Patio Restaurant, and said our goodbyes. A few of us were leaving early for a post trip extension to Hiroshima. However, they opted to do their own arrangements instead of purchasing OAT’s extension package. Perhaps we can share their experiences in future blog postings.

After several fair days, it was raining this morning so we holed up in the hotel until our noon departure. Doug did some web surfing while Marie was looking at a temporary exhibit of designer kimonos (see photos).

The weather lifted as the van took us and the Denver travelers, John, Sally and Michiko, to Kansai International Airport, located in Osaka. We arrived about 2:00 p.m. for a 4:00 p.m. departure. Machiko arrived ahead of us to guide us through the check-in procedure. We then said our goodbyes and assured Machiko she was going to receive the highest ratings from us!

Kansai is a state of the art airport, completed in 1994. The designer was the world-renowned architect, Renzo Piano. The terminal was so well constructed that it came through the severe 1995 Kobe earthquake unscathed. Additionally, the place was spotless and the waiting area had free public computers for anyone’s use!

After exchanging the last few hundred yen for crisp American bills, we boarded the Boeing 747-400 for our flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Whereas we had nice legroom with the bulkhead seating between LAX and Tokyo, this time we had little legroom at all. The food was adequate, but we did not feel that United’s service was as polished as on the earlier flight.

We tried to sleep for most of the flight, but we woke up a couple of hours before we were to land at SFO. We landed about 10 a.m., local time (it was still April 1 because of our eastbound crossing of the International Date Line).

Customs was quick and efficient, and since we had a four-hour layover at SFO before our final leg to LAX, we had a chance to have a light lunch and explore the terminal.

This terminal was a real letdown compared with what we experienced at Kanzai International, and even Narita. Maintenance was so shoddy in comparison: seat backs missing in the waiting areas, floors spotted with dirt and debris, unclean restrooms, out-of-order drinking fountains, and so on. We could not help wondering what kind of impression foreign visitors would leave with; is this the best the United States can do?

The last leg of our flight was a commuter hop to LAX that got us on the ground by about 3:30 p.m. Our last task was to hail a shuttle to the Hacienda at LAX Hotel. In the old days, one went to a bank of telephones to speed dial the hotel to send a shuttle van. Today, one uses a touch computer screen, to contact a van service. We panicked because the Hacienda was not on the menu! We asked an information official nearby; it turned out that the Hacienda shuttle made a regular run every 20 minutes and no contact was necessary. He directed us to the van pickup area just outside. Sure enough, a Hacienda shuttle came by within five minutes, and we arrived at the hotel lobby at 4:00 p.m.

We knew that the notorious Los Angeles rush hour was underway, and we were in no condition to attempt the drive to San Diego this evening. As noted earlier, we had booked an overnight stay just for this reason.

We were ready for a menu change, so we ordered hearty Mexican dinners at the Mariposas Restaurant. Thus sated, we turned in.

The drive home the next morning was a piece of cake; by leaving after rush hour was over, we made it home in two hours in a fairly alert condition.