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It turned out that as my cruise around northern Europe continued, ports of call where shore-based wireless access was convenient to the ship when I had the time to make up another post became hard to find. Getting back from the cruise left me jet-lagged and trying to get over a cold I had picked up in its second half. Still, I got through the whole thing, and saw many interesting things as the ship continued to Norway and Scotland. I am glad to be back, but I'm conscious all over again of how fast time can vanish in a day just by running through a regular routine.
Pictures within )
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When my parents said they'd be making another cruise to Northern Europe, the thought of coming along did appeal to me. Unlike the trip I'd made eight years ago, I'd be flying all the way out and flying back, but I suppose that could also mean more time to see things off the ship. One thing I did think I'd try this time was to look for wireless connections at the cruise terminals, remembering how expensive it was just to ration out ten minutes a day. There hasn't been quite as much wireless available as I'd hoped, though, so I'm trying to squeeze what I can out of a stop in Stockholm even as I tell myself there's nothing wrong with taking a vacation from more than one thing at once.
Pictures within )
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Without the prompting of my family I might well wind up content at the end of a year to have used up my vacation taking lots of long weekends, but when they started asking me what I was planning to do this year I did get to thinking. With foreign exchange rates what they were the thought of going somewhere inside the country seemed compelling. I'd been east not that long ago, so going west came to mind. Almost as soon as I started thinking about British Columbia, where I'd got off the cruise ship and on an airplane at the end of my cruise across the Pacific five years ago and spent a few more days there two decades ago, though, the idea of travelling that much further and heading north as well began to fire my imagination. I've read Pierre Berton's Klondike more than a few times; even if travel isn't anywhere near as challenging in the Yukon today as it was for the gold rushers at the close of the nineteenth century, it still seemed interesting to go.

With that vague thought of "going" and "seeing what I'd find" expressed, my brother decided he'd go as well and got to work researching details. Before too long we had an RV rented for a road trip that would take us on the "circle route" through the territory with a short leg over the border to Alaska. From the sights (and services) of Whitehorse to the edge of Kluane National Park to the austere, winding heights of the Top of the World Highway to the sudden sight of Dawson's City deliberate quaintness, and from there to jog north to Tombstone Territorial Park (which a cousin in Vancouver told us about) and back south again made for a full week of travel.

Among all the things I packed, I did once more overestimate how much I needed to bring just to keep myself diverted. Out of the books stuffed into my carry-on bag and the videos I loaded on my iPad (which did pick up cellular signals on the outskirts of the major settlements), I only looked at a few of them, concentrating instead on real-world sights and perhaps winding up thinking there was something worth considering to that juxtaposition. As well, though, while travelling in an RV was a lot more comfortable than the tenting that had me "camped out" by the time I was out of Scouts and quicker than setting up and taking down a trailer, it was a noisy ride in the passenger seat and demanding as a driver, especially as the road got bumpier in the permafrost zone. It all made for a great change of pace in any case. The thought of going back, even if at a different time of year to perhaps try and see the aurora, is certainly there.
Pictures are ahead )
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It's been longer since my last post than I usually try to be, but I might have a bit of an excuse. After my parents said they would be flying over to Scotland to go to a conference on wind turbine noise in Glasgow and my brother decided that was an opportunity to also get back to London, which he'd last visited very nearly twenty-five years ago on a previous family vacation, I decided I could go too. It hadn't been quite as long for me thanks to a one-day "shore excursion" on a cruise I was on just a few years ago (I went on a short Thames cruise from the Tower to Westminster, rode the London Eye, and stepped into Westminster Abbey), but I did think I could certainly stand to go back.
Pictures are linked within )
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A while ago, I happened to hear about a new exhibition of Star Wars memorabilia travelling through my own country, but the first few locations on the schedule seemed too far away to travel to just for the sake of seeing it. I sort of left it at that until this summer, when I was looking at a tourism flyer in my newspaper only to see the exhibition at an aviation museum close enough to think about going to. Making an extra-long weekend of it, I took the train to see, among other things, "Star Wars Identities."
An illustrated post )
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Getting back from our cruise meant an eight-hour drive, and I suppose I needed a little time after that before I could get around to making up another illustrated post.
Pictures within )
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Knowing most of the cruise through the Maratimes and New England would be inside my own country where my iPad's cellular connection would work without roaming, I decided to save money and not buy any satellite connection time. That, though, did mean I couldn't get around to uploading any of the pictures I've been taking until now, with the weather good enough to get to the cruise ship terminal hall in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and set up my portable computer. As I've just implied, the weather's been a little cold and wet most of the way, but I've been enjoying the trip all the same, dropping into a certain number of museums seeing things I expected to be there and a thing or two that surprised me. At other times, though, there's at least been sun while we've been outside. We're on our way back to where we started, and getting back should be good in its own way.

Road Trip

May. 10th, 2013 09:12 pm
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When my parents suggested there was a cruise coming up I might be interested in joining them on again, for all there wasn't as much time before it to sort of mentally prepare myself for it as before I did come around to thinking the Atlantic Canada and New England destinations sounded interesting. It turned out, though, that this time we wouldn't be flying to board it, but just driving. Writing these words not quite at the halfway point where we're stopping for the night, I'm sort of detached from the usual but not quite in the same way going to the airport would be. Hopefully, the ports ahead will indeed be interesting; this time, there's the slight advantage the cruise will retrace its path back to its first port, so that we won't be trying to take things in over one lone day and then saying goodbye to them.
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I've made it back from my two weeks of vacation, and after a day off to try and recover from the jet lag I'm getting around to uploading a few more pictures and making a proper post of them. To try and keep from making too big a deal of it, I'm putting them behind a "cut."
The pictures )
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Bad weather started sweeping in yesterday, and the captain of the cruise ship I'm on announced that instead of stopping at two ports where people would have to get off in the ship's tenders we would reroute to the Orkney Islands and Invergorden. Having had the last cruise I went on changed around without expecting it, I suppose I'm able to deal with things as they are. Today, in any case, we're proceeding at top speed over a wind-swept sea from Iceland to the north of Britain. I've managed to see another two waterfalls and a geyser (next to the Geysir, although it erupts infrequently and didn't when I was there) among some rugged but pretty impressive scenery. The thought of this vacation coming to an end next week is in my mind, but I suppose I'm ready to accept the upcoming flight back (and being able to show more pictures) as I look forward to the stops still ahead.
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It just so happened that coming back to the first cruise terminal in Iceland, I noticed a great many people with portable computers set up, and guessing there was a wireless connection available I carried my own computer out from the ship to start uploading a few photos. I did manage to make every connection on time without losing any luggage, and am now on my cruise. We started from England, making a stop in the Shetland Islands and then the Faroe Islands before heading into the east of Iceland, where my family's particular "shore excursion" took us up through a mountain pass and then down to hike up to a waterfall. I've been starting to enjoy myself, but with the "all aboard" time approaching I'll have to wrap this up. I do miss not having the time to comment on other journal entries, anyway; things are picking up there too.
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After some vacations I managed to arrange by myself, once again I'm travelling with my family after my parents said they were going on a cruise around Iceland and suggested I could come along with them. Seeing some of the northern latitudes sounded interesting enough that I agreed to be the third person in the cabin. In some ways, though, I'm still fighting the feeling that "getting there," or at least to the ship, isn't "half the fun" for me, but with my departure for the airport just hours away I've put things together and managed to gather a good bit of resolve. This time, I'm hoping I'll be able to transfer photos from my camera to my travelling computer on the way, but there may yet be unexpected developments there.
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Getting back from vacation having been unable to transfer photos from my camera to my portable left me just a little concerned about whether I'd be able to get them on to my desktop and provide a little more proof of what I'd been doing. However, the camera continued to work with my regular computer, and I now have a small selection of them uploaded.
A small sampling of pictures within) )
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When I flew over to Japan, I knew that in crossing the International Date Line I would have to set my watch forward by a day before landing. It didn't quite feel like I was "losing" a day, though, because the flight took so long. I did know, though, that in crossing back by ship, the 11th of May would "repeat" for those of us on board, and I was sort of interested in the thought of having "a day to live over again." However, the "second" 11th of May happens to have been much rougher than the first. I still have an appetite (maybe too much, given that I eat breakfast and lunch in the buffet-style restaurant), but a day when I begin to get a headache reading is kind of a long one.

However, my vacation continues to wear on, with stops in Vladivostok and Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky in Russia. They've been interesting, but at the seeming risk of either offending Russians or admitting I don't know the world as a whole one of my strong impressions of both places was exhaust fumes and worn-down buildings under grey skies; the last time the sun was out was in South Korea. There were also helpful guides and sights to see in both places, though, so I still shouldn't complain. In a few more days we'll have reached Alaska, and I'll be interested in what there is to see there.
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Setting off on my Pacific vacation, I had hoped to provide some photographs in posts made during it even if they had to be uploaded in fragments of satellite connection time measured out day by day. Remembering how I couldn't manage to get the pictures from my camera to my travelling portable during my Florida vacation last year, I went out and got a new memory card reader. I tested it after opening the package and can remember it working, but as soon as I was on the move I tried it again and it didn't work. It's frustrating to talk about things without being able to "prove" it.

Nevertheless, I can at least say the flights across the continent and over the ocean worked out and I made it to the cruise ship. I do have to admit that looking around and seeing that just about all the other passengers are over retirement age can make me feel sort of out of place, but it's something that can be handled. I also got hit with a nasty case of jet lag, going to bed "early" feeling absolutely exhausted but waking up just hours later and lying awake for what seemed the rest of the night, but that does seem to be fading even as time starts getting taken back hour by hour.

What I've seen so far has been interesting. While I only spent part of an afternoon and an evening in Japan, being driven from the Osaka airport to the cruise terminal in Kobe, I did manage to see urban scenery on the drive and get off the ship and walk around, lucking on a downtown department-style store I can best describe as a Future Shop or Best Buy stacked up on multiple small floors with a hobby shop above it, thus accomplishing what just might be called "fandom tourism." (So far as that goes, while in San Francisco I didn't get outside of San Francisco International Airport, which in itself inspires an obscure thought or two, I noticed there were a good number of Star Wars books in the airport bookstore. For that matter, two trivia competitions in a row on board the ship included questions related to Star Wars, ones the older people I was part of a team with could be a bit less quick to answer than I was.) Even before that, I had the strange yet certain sense that I didn't feel "disillusioned" seeing "the real Japan." Things got a bit more cultural on a city tour of Busan, South Korea, although maybe I did wonder a bit about it being a "substitute," and about how the weight of history of Japan once having occupied Korea in the decades before the Second World War makes that thought a little uncertain (although I have heard on this cruise itself that things could be better nowadays.) Tomorrow, we're into Vladivostok in Russia, and so far I've been enjoying myself.

On the Go

Apr. 30th, 2011 10:12 am
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Having had a good time on the cruise to Europe I took two years ago ("being taken care of" once on the ship probably had something to do with that), the thought of going on another one did appeal to me. I also suppose the thought "go now, you don't know what'll happen in the future" came to mind, and so I booked a cruise last fall that would start in Japan and cross the Pacific making stops in Alaska. I knew it would only give me a taste of both places (and yet might give me a "real" awareness of Japan at last), but there was always the possibility of going back.

However, the recent collection of unpleasantness in northern Japan seems to have disturbed a lot of the other people booking that cruise, as the cruise line contacted my travel agent about a month ago with the news that they were cancelling the stops in the Tokyo area and Hokkaido and replacing them with South Korea and Russia. I did wonder for a little while if I still wanted to go, but decided in the end that now stopping off in four countries (I'm still going to fly to Japan and get on the ship there, although thoughts of "awareness" not changing that much now even sort of interest me in a strange way), even if for a single day in some cases, isn't that bad.

I decided to hold off on making a big deal of this until it was almost time to go. Again, there's the possibility I'll still be able to make the occasional post from the ship. As for the full experience, I'd like to think I'm getting into the mood for it; getting on the road and into the air will put me into it.
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I've made it back from Florida, and now I have the pictures I took downloaded off my camera on to my computer. Now, I can at least show people I've been there. While during the space shuttle launch I did remember a bit of advice that with other people taking pictures better than anything you could take yourself, it would be better to just take in the experience (and looking at some of the telephoto lenses set up near me and my brother, I could believe that), I did manage to snap a shot or two.
Yes, the pictures are ahead )


May. 14th, 2010 09:55 pm
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I declared some weeks back that I was going to try and go to Florida to see the launch of space shuttle Atlantis in person, but I suppose I kept wondering about how it would all work out, even as my brother and I flew down south, made our way through the state, found our way to Titusville just across the Indian River from the Kennedy Space Centre (which we toured the day before launch), and managed not only to locate a riverfront viewing spot in the morning but a parking space beforehand. When tuning in to a local radio station matched the mutters from the big crowd at the nine-minute hold that there was some technical problem, I was wondering about the hours of waiting turning into a "try again tomorrow" sort of thing.

Then, at 2:20 in the afternoon, the big white cloud billowed from behind the trees, and the column of smoke glowing at the end started climbing. The noise reached us a full minute later, and the smoke curved off into the sky until a speck of light broke free from it and vanished into the distance. We still had a tremendous traffic jam to work through most of the way back to Orlando (and we waited in Titusville for two hours before getting on the road), but we made it back. Unfortunately, I can't attach any pictures to this post because my camera isn't cooperating with my portable, but maybe words will be enough for now. In any case, the mission is under way.
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Having made the decision to travel to Florida and try to see one of the remaining space shuttle launches has made me follow the launch preparations that much more closely, more or less out of the concern that since the previous mission was moved by a month, some vital time cushion might be eaten up after I've paid for my plane tickets. When reports that bad weather was keeping space shuttle Atlantis from being rolled out to the launch pad, I did get a little concerned. However, it made the journey at last and although there doesn't seem to be much leeway left, the targeted launch day is still the same. Of course, people actually working on the program would be inconvenienced by a delay as well.
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After an extra day in space because of weather delays, space shuttle Discovery is now on the ground in Florida. During the mission, I took note of an important antenna that wasn't working and sticking equipment during the maintenance spacewalks, but everything seems to have worked out. During the mission, there was also more clarity provided about how there do seem to be more plans for future space development than just hoping SpaceX gets the Falcon 9 rocket working, a good change from the uncertainty that accompanied the previous space shuttle flight. I suppose it might yet be troublingly like ripping up old plans just to provide new ones, but there's also an air of cutting out the merely useful step of first building a rocket just large enough to launch a capsule to move straight on to the bigger and more essential rocket, and a destination in the asteroids.

How close we are to one end, though, seems wrapped up in that this is the last landing after which it's been scheduled that an orbiter will be fixed up to fly again. The mission to follow is still scheduled for the middle of May, less than a month from now, and I suppose I'm bringing that up because I'm going to chance a declaration. I hadn't mentioned anything about my vacation last year here until just before I left because I worried it might seem to boast or just bore, but now I want to say that I'm planning to go to Florida next month and try to see the launch in person at last instead of just watching via online streaming if I'm not stuck at work. I've made what seem like the essential preparations on my part; now, I'm shifting over to hoping that everything else works out as well, as I can imagine the launch being rescheduled or just delayed all the days I'll be down there... Still, at least I've made the effort instead of just daydreaming about it.

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