Sunday, June 27, 2021

Just Like Riding A Bike


The last I had travelled substantial away from the 4th Corner was way back at the first week of March 2020.  I was scheduled to get on a plane Sunday March 1, bound for Kansas City to run a week of training sessions.  Foreshadowingly (that's now a word) Kansas City was where I had led my first sessions under the newly bestowed label Technical Trainer - the training department has since been obsolete and I was transitioned into something else. On that Friday word came down that all corporate travel was immediately suspended (the pandemic, d'uh) and explicit permission was required from the highest level of C-Suite executive before proceeding.   Against the easier-to-ask-forgiveness instructions of my then "manager" I went ahead and requested (and received) said explicit permission - the submission form letter HR had sent out late in the afternoon helped.  While the amount of traffic through Sea-Tac that Sunday was normal it certainly was not upon my return the following Saturday.  The term deserted comes to mind as I recall walking through the terminal to the car park shuttle bus.  475-days later I find myself trying to remember how to ride a motorcycle, 400-miles a day, day after day day after day.... and getting in and out of hotel room without forgetting anything.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pan Con Todo

Southern Spain seems to be more about food than any other thing.  After riding through a big chunk of Andalucia I am struck by how much of every possible piece of arable land is being used intensively for agriculture.  And most impressively it's not a mono-culture focused activity, every other field had something else growing with some sections being harvested and others just being planted.  There was a particularly aromatic few miles that I will long remember where what smelled and looked like sweet onions were being crated up. 

A variety of perennials were in the mix as well. I am for sure figuring out how to bring home some fresh press virgin Spanish olive oil and maybe some wine, probably red.

In the Malaga market where I happened to serendipitously stumbled into on that first morning anything and everything even nominally considered edible could be found with a huge percentage originating within 100-miles of the place. Vegetables, fruit, tomatoes (just based on size and variety deserving to be called out singularly regardless of the whole fruit or vegetable thing), fish, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, spices yadayadayada it was all there. 

And in the restaurants - and where there was one restaurant there was at least another - the abundance continued.  Even the lunch menu in the most backwater place had several pages.  Although simply asking for a "jamon y queso con un Coke-a-Cola" usually did the trick.  And regardless of what was ordered a side of bread is was served with everything: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And it wasn't always that steaming when you rip it open fresh out of the oven doughy goodness.  Sometimes it was a just slice of the local equivalent of Wonder bread or a bag of miniature bread sticks.  I definitely have a preference for the fresher.

At one point the shacking of my head must have reached terminal velocity as a yet another side of bread was delivered with my ham and cheese sandwich; "pan con todo" came the proud triumphant shout from the next table.  This then prompted reminiscents of a Spanish grandmother who always asked where was the bread when it was not immediately present on the table.  As someone who had survived the Civil War in the 30's bread was often the only food on the table.  So without the bread there might as well be no other food.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

One Map, One Motorcycle and One Reservation

This trip was a to be a little different than previous rides that (mostly) did not commence directly out my driveway.   No guides, no following van with a spare bike, no luggage waiting for you in the room... OK, that one I is kind of nice.  If I want to sleep in and take a faster route, I can.  I feel I want to spend a half day at some Roman ruins, I can.  If I completely change my mind and decide to go somewhere else on a whim, I can.

This ride is also to be a continuation of where should Ian move to when he retires.  Spain keeps popping up on the list so voila, here I am.  Nowone of the suggestions that always shows up when researching on how to become an ex-pat, or in my case and ex-ex-pat, is to rent before if ever buying a residence.  Thing is, here in Spain there are whole villages for sale - cheap.

Hey Google, how do you say open house in Spianish?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

10000 Steps and a nap

There are some redeeming features with Google when it comes to traveling, such as answering those two most pressing questions one can sometimes find asking themselves: where am I and what did I do last night?  Fortunately the answer is always close at hand on your phone.  Thanks Google!

Malaga is branding itself as the City of Museums, which is kind of ballsy considering that reportedly there literally were no museums here 20-years ago.  It also now finds itself at a point where the economy has become tipped over towards tourism so much that tearing down an old mansion (palacio in the local parlance) to put up an brand new modern hotel is as almost a monthly or even weekly occurrence.   There are recent attempts to build the new from the inside out saving the old facades but it really is just a matter of when not if the full Disneyfication is complete.  Which will be too bad because it’s kind of a cool place at the moment.  

Having inadvertently arrived for International Museum day and the annual Night of Culture with all entrance fees waived and a live music concert on every corner I somehow managed to mostly walk my first day in town with only the Picasso museum - a local boy made good - enticing me to line up with the crowds.  A late afternoon siesta had me feeling like a native and well set up for that evening’s Tapas and Wine tour which did not disappoint.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Hey Google, where is Malaga?

“Malaga Spain is five thousand four hundred and fourteen miles from Bellingham Washington”
Hey Google, thanks for being so helpful.
“I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that now”

The question I should have asked is “Hey Google, how do I get to Malaga?”.
But then I already knew the answer to that one.

1) 9AM airport shuttle to Seattle,
2) 4PM flight to Calgary
3) 11PM flight to London - Heathrow
4) 3PM airport shuttle to London - Gatwick
5) 8PM flight to Malaga
6) 11:30PM taxi ride to the hotel.

And in the midst of all that I managed to make a foodie tour reservation for Saturday night, change my return Heathrow airport shuttle drop off terminal and the departure time for my SeaTac shuttle pickup.  Logistics, it’s all about the logistics... at least until you get there.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Sometimes it’s just a matter of having all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place allowing one to get from point A to point B in the expected manner.  For me point A was Minneapolis Minnesota Wednesday morning and point B being Malaga Spain Friday night... with point C being a few hours at home in the Pacific North West in between just to make it interesting.  Having got my ass out of bed early enough to drop off the rental car and have breakfast at the Minneapolis airport - a fine example of an airport if there ever was one - the flight back to Seattle arrived a little bit early.   And if Northbound I-5 hadn’t of been backed up 10-miles through Seattle because of a “significant” traffic accident the puzzle pieces would have been falling into place nicely.  On the bright side I did get to drive through the new tunnel before the toll started up.  

The other challenge to keeping the logistics in line (herding cats anyone?) is to manage the dynamics of the situation.  In this case as I turned my phone back on disembarking the plane from Minnesota a message showed up from the airline of my return flight 2-weeks hence confirming the itinerary changes... wait, changes?!?!?  I didn’t make any stinking changes.  Seems like the airline in question decided I should route through Dallas and an additional too short for my luggage to possibly be transferred onto the next flight layover instead of the originally booked direct hop back to Seattle.  Now to be fair this whole trip is pretty much possible from draining various points banks and beggars shouldn’t be choosers but still, Dallas?  Just because I’m there once a month doesn’t mean I have any sort of affinity towards the place - but the Flora Street Cafe is highly recommended if anyone is looking for the ultimate expressions of new wave fusion American southwest cuisine.

Oh ya, logistics - so now I had been encumbered with updating the shuttle reservation before departing SEA-TAC airport because my next stop is in Canada and free domestic calling is free domestic calling... oh look, craft beer.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Change Of Plans (Part Deux) July 11-12 2018

We’ve saved the big one ’til last: Khardung La Pass! Join the elite handful of motorcyclists that have stood on top of the world with their motorcycle by their side. Reputed to be the highest motorable road in the world, Khardung La pass sits at 5,380m above sea level (that’s the same height as Mt. Everest basecamp!). The views from the top are second to none, looking across Zanskar and the Kangri Mountains. We’ll ride down the other side on rocky dirt roads until we reach our final destination. 

Having returned to Leh after a night at Pangong Lake it was off to Nubra Valley in the morning.  Again the landslide revised the itinerary from what was originally supposed to be 2-nights luxury glamping at the eco-lodge to just 1 night.  However due to the 8AM departure we would be arriving in the early afternoon with some time to explore.  The next day it was back over the highest motorable road in the world for a second time and into to Leh for the last time. 

On the ride through Nubra Valley the locals were all out lining the street with all the buildings adorned with gold and red fabric.  While they all politely waves at us it was the Dalia Lama they were all there to see.

Best government road sign of the day: "Life is not destination it is a journey"

...things got very zen in the Nubra Valley.