Jude with his cousins Zoe and Leo

After Portland, we spent several days in the Bay Area visiting family, Bliss’ in Orinda and mine in Silicon Valley.  These were the most uneventful days of the trip to date, from a site-seeing and activity-doing perspective, but were extremely relaxing and provided a much-needed break in the action ahead of our 14-hour flight to Hong Kong.  Jude especially enjoyed meeting his Aunt Barbara and Uncle Craig and playing with his cousins Leo and Zoe.

With Bliss' Uncle Craig and Aunt Barbara

We had a lot of loose ends to tie up, and final packing to do, so having family around to help with Jude while we prepared for the international leg of the trip worked out well.  We had to convert a full rental-car’s worth of stuff into a reasonable amount of luggage to cart around Asia and Europe on planes and trains.  This took a lot of planning, rolling (see our Packing Tips post), and culling (we sent a very large box of things back home).  I was also in a mad dash to finish my 1,000-page Harry Truman biography (highly recommended) before leaving for Hong Kong, which Bliss had forbade me from bringing abroad as too big.



After Seattle, we headed to the other big city in the PNW: Portland.  Like parts of Seattle, such as the Fremont neighborhood, Portland is teeming with coffee shops; interesting-looking restaurants (we tried several, all of which were outstanding); urban gardens; hybrid cars; and hipsters.

A classic Portland moment for me came while driving back from a superb French restaurant, St. Jack, full of Bordeaux and locally-raised lamb neck at about 11 p.m., and seeing a group of 40-50 twenty-something hipsters playing dodgeball in a floodlit park.  One gets the sense, at moments like that, that Williamsburg may have gone to sleep on the East Coast and then woken up to discover that it had become an entire city on the West Coast, except with more trees, fewer seasons, and no L train. Continue reading »


Ferry terminal employee (not a mean one)

We previously blogged about the fact that everyone in the Pacific Northwest is nice and even tempered.  Since that time, unfortunately, we have found the exception that proves the rule: Orcas Island Ferry Terminal employees.  (Our opinions of residents of the places we visit are of course carefully reached through the foolproof and time-tested methodology of observing one or two examples of behavior and then reaching sweeping generalized conclusions based thereon.)  Sadly, it seems that ferry terminal employees in the PNW can be just as salty as the water their passengers travel over.

Our friend and traveling companion Elle learned this the hard way on our way back to Seattle from Orcas Island when she had the following exchange with a ferry terminal employee: Continue reading »

Aug 252011

Glacier National Park is mind-bogglingly beautiful.  You’d think that we might have become jaded to natural beauty having just come from the Badlands and Yellowstone.  Not so.  Glacier pushes the bar that much further.  Lush, verdant trees (mostly pines) are everywhere; blue-green rivers and lakes (a color locals call “glacial flower”) dot the landscape; and to top it all off, glacial peaks hover in the background no matter where you are in the Park.  The whole picture is fairly overwhelming to the senses.  Luckily for us, each day has also presented a gorgeous sunny sky, not letting us forget why Montana is called the Big Sky state. Continue reading »


The Badlands: great place to visit.  They are basically in the middle of nowhere, and miles from any major airport.  It took us the better part of two days to get there from Minneapolis.  As a result, they are fairly devoid of tourists.  The only visitors we saw were serious outdoors lovers, and scores of bikers from the Sturgis rally, taking place while we were in the Badlands.  Maybe the tough-sounding name of the Park appealed to them, or maybe just the rally’s proximity to the Badlands worked to draw them in, but the roar of Harleys was an ever present during our stay.  A staffer at the lodge told me that there were over one-million bikers in Sturgis for the rally and that they had come from all over the world.  Interestingly, the bikers seemed to stay away from any of the serious hikes, just checking out the vistas with very serious-looking cameras pulled out of their saddle bags.  They were all very nice to Jude despite some pretty offensive, unbecoming, and sometimes racist slogans adorning their bikes and clothes (not fit to re-print here).  An amusing aspect of the Sturgis Rally website is a list of the most commonly violated state laws and city ordinances during the rally (e.g. “indecent exposure[,]” bond amount $111; “deposit of filth[,]” bond amount $86, etc.). Continue reading »

Aug 122011

We love Minneapolis!

The flight itself was notable only for Jude’s newfound imperviousness to Dramamine (why didn’t he nap; the flight left at 11 a.m., his nap time, and there was good white noise from the engine?) and Mommy’s brilliant use of painter’s tape to entertain him:

At the W Hotel in Minneapolis Jude still wouldn’t nap.  By now, he was basically a 30-pound ball of manic energy.  We had to get out of the hotel room. Continue reading »

Aug 122011

In a hopefully auspicious moment, our trip literally got off with a bang.

During our last ever walk back from Jude’s daycare on the evening before our trip began (Aug. 9), Carroll Gardens was rocked by a loud explosion.  Large plumes of dark smoke billowed out from under a car parked at the northwest corner of Henry & Degraw and lights in nearby stores flickered on and off, leading residents and store owners to pour onto Henry Street to check out the problem.  Then: boom!  A very loud explosion, followed by people screaming and a lot of commotion—including several women with yoga mats running quickly away from the scene and a livery car driver reversing north down Henry Street (it’s a one-way street, the other way!) at full speed.

We could not find anything online about what had happened.  Apparently though, this is reoccurring problem on Henry Street:  In any event, once the smoke cleared, the symbolic importance of the explosion was not lost on us.


Jude and I are spending the week with my parents, brothers Adam and Paul, and their families in the little village of Aurora in upstate New York before leaving for our around-the-world trip with Bliss in about 10 days.  On Friday afternoon, Bliss flew out from New York City to join us for the weekend, with her flight scheduled to land at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport at 5:25 p.m.   Unfortunately, after Jude and I got to the airport (about an 80-minute drive from Aurora), her flight was delayed over 4.5 hours, meaning Jude and I had some serious time to kill.

The first problem was that I did not bring a stroller or any real dinner food, thinking (wrongly!) that we would just be picking up Mommy and quickly jetting back to Aurora.  No problem, I thought, we’ll just hang out in a restaurant and I’ll ply Jude with milk and bread (his favorites) to keep him happy.  This brings up the second problem: Syracuse Airport does not have any restaurants open after 6 p.m. and accessible without a boarding pass (Terminal A, actually; we could not get into the other terminal, “B”).

So there I was, at the airport with a two-year-old, forced to keep him up two hours past his 8 p.m. bedtime and woefully underequipped. Continue reading »

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