Archive for February, 2017

Seattlandia Day 4 – 51 Shades of Gray

Posted: February 28, 2017 in Travel

So after a rough night of sleep was stunned awake just before 7 am by something bright shining through the little clear window above the bedroom doors leading out to back patio? Should I follow it and really see if there is a heaven or even a coffee place open this early? Quickly pulled on the sluggos – never travel without – and sunscreen , grabbed a towel and rushed to the front door and opened . It was gray outside . Was that a cow cut in half on the porch and I was under the dome? Quick check and still blue sky outback – here is one I prepared earlier


Ok wait 5 mins. Check again, that’s more like it


Probably just as well I didn’t venture further as still had PJs on under sluggos and wouldnt want to take any fans away from The Gimp downstairs . Let’s turn on TV and wait 3 mins for obligatory weather update and see if the world has changed while I slept. Nope, Trump is still President and Moonlight still won the Oscar – the blame game in full swing though. So should be a drier day today but still some rain around . Bearable considering it will mostly be indoor action today and not of the naughty kind but rather the sitting at a stool kind. Have 17 weather apps of course and the most reliable one I find is AccuWeather which gives you wonderfully confident predictions like “rain in 45 minutes for 4 mins 17 s” Tried to add Maryhole as a location and it came back saying ” Not worth it cobber the weather never changes . It’s hot and dry , deal with it ” Oh well some things remain the same . So when they decide to shoot the next sequel to 50 Shades of Gray just do a time lapse of a Portland morning sky and will even throw in The Gimp walking around neighbourhood for contrast . Coffee time while I wait and see if first tour goes ahead given only two signed up by yesterday

Ring Ring. Not good. Actually the Haunted Pub tour is cancelled for tonight due to 3 pikers pulling out. Oh well rebook for Thursday night – minus Mardi Gras special . Not the end of the world. Let’s slip in a Segway tour at noon that day to round it out

Tour looks good so let’s check out Powell’s Book Depository first and make sure no snipers lurking. Nope , but a couple of must reads



Ok half cut after another great tour . I know I am a DCM ( Designated chick magnet ) but this is getting serious . Apart from the young Lizzie as tour guide the only other participant was 22 yr old Floridian Chelsea . Better turn down the charm factor as in town all week – try the veal


3 breweries and full samplings and little food = full as a state school hat rack πŸ€“ Simply a great tour. In fact so good signed up for tomorrow again on the other side of the river and will work out transport logistics when I sober up. Should I be worried that Chelsea also signed up ? Once again shows that you should always do these tours – apart from Beyond Boring – when in town. Simple rule of thumb – alcohol involved = good. So a quick detour to 10 Barrels Brewing for lunch if for no other reason then to shake Chelsea and then walk home to book tomorrow’s tour. Damn that keyboard looks small…..











And finally amongst all this frivolity a shout out to my wonderful daughter and the Rx4s. A tough time these last few days but an amazing young lady, a wonderful partner Richard and a beautiful boy Ryan. Just hope Rocky is coping ok 😏 It’s easy to get caught up in all the fun and forget what really matters in life


He rested. Never been able to sleep in even in the dark so naturally not a lot of sleep has been had and on top of a very busy 36 hrs feeling a bit flat this morning . Not hungover luckily . Weather looks same as yesterday and while not an issue then it is a tad depressing today when one just planned to let the city flow over you rather than just drip drip drip. Methinks in Portland it may clear during the day so hoping better after lunch. First up then a short walk to a new coffee place to try – World Cup – and my standard Cortado.



Given it is still only mid morning time to face that demon downstairs and not referring to The Gimp. Nope, it’s washing time. Not a full load – a feeling I am familiar withπŸ€“ – but get the feel now and do another one on Friday as Seattle B&B has no on site laundary. Looks simple enough, time will tell.

As could be a long quiet day time to reflect on some USA specifics one is reminded off after first day or two. No electric kettles, all stove top . No toasters but rather toaster ovens – who has toast without a quart of cheese melted on top after all? The drivers are especially courteous to pedestrians in that you can be 3 m from curb and they are 50 m away and they will stop and wave you across! It’s unsettling at times. There is no road rage here except if you find a neighbourhood block without a pub or coffee roaster on the corner 😏 Have adopted my usual smart approach to eating on holidays to maintain my svelte figure given there will be drinking a lot ahead. No big cafe breakfasts but rather some toast and Mortadella picked up at grocer. Usually have a salad or similar lined up for dinner which allows for a pub lunch to soak up the alcohol in between. With plenty of walking as well plan seems to work. Even though you feel less toned after two to three weeks invariably only a kg or two over fighting weight. Brain cells on the other hand are lost forever. Apparently. Time to catch up on some On Demand TV while washing thingy goes round and round .

Washing done and dusted so head out for a walk and a bite of lunch at Kells Irish Pub. Ok, one beer . Very passable Shepherds Pie hit the spot nicely. Pick up the requisite “Keep Portland Weird ” T shirt and back home to plan the afternoon



Simple plan – go catch the Aerial Tram and don’t fall out. Done. Good view of the city and many bridges that cross the river . I was a bit Shaggus O’Murphy by now so dropped in for a quick coffee near home and then indoors to write this . Likely duck out for a beer after 4pm at one of the 738 pubs nearby and then in for an early night to recharge for tomorrow when we embark on a double barrelled (boom tish) beer tourathon starting mid morning and ending late night. A Sao biscuit with cheese to separate them.

Starting to think mid to late afternoon is best weather around here πŸ‘





If I was a Postman I would be barring up about now with this forecast πŸ€“ Likely the snow will be more in mountains as Portland sits in a valley it seems. Happy Valley maybe?. Anyhow, not as if someone should be surprised it will rain today in Portland, the only surprise being that the weather folk have better darts here

Not a bad nights sleep at all from about 7:30 pm to 6 am this morning with the usual breaks during the night . Now once bowels catch up to northern hemisphere it will be sweet . Out and about early to get the vibe of the neighbourhood and pretty clear it is “wanna beer or coffee mate?” . I could do some real damage in about one square mile – notice how quickly converted from klms? Strangely no bars were open at 7:30 am Sunday morning – amateurs . So got some more groceries this morning as not quite functioning yesterday and all set if the rain sets in all miserable like – especially with on demand cable TV as well. Maybe a Bill Paxton movie 😰

Now CLP will attest to fact that my directional skills are a bit ordinary first up . Ok when I see it once but as a virgin invariably head wrong way . So have now worked out which streets run parallel to mine and which run at 90 degrees and how the system works – like 18th and then 19th …. weird eh. The streetcar could be well all I need for initial travel but will also try a bus today . Have brewcycle at 4:30 pm which will likely be cancelled but before that a trip into town . Not much point taking a lot of photos today – but I will of course . Do need a long sleeved top as did not pack one for some reason . TShirts and Coats of course but nothing in between. Although not ” bone chilling” you do notice it early morning once you leave the oven cleverly disguised as your rental. The phone doesn’t work as well, the nose stings a little Yada Yada Yada. Though the pubs were shut did have a very passable Cortado at Barista – this is a good bet in USA, only clowns order a cappuccino here





Set off under grey skies but no real rain and remembered how cold the hands get and difficulty of using phone ! Have already seen many iconic sights and have the photos to prove it!




Now that I have a grip on the public transport getting around town should be easy . Easy town to walk and despite Pre planning with bus routes likely catch Streetcar to ” downtown” and walk everywhere from there . As always the quirky photo opportunities abound but better stop here as still have Brewcycle to write about later , if capable πŸ€“



Always a chance Brewcycle could be cancelled so better slip in a beer just in case? Had a bit of clothes shopping to do anyway within walking distance and stumbled across Kells Irish Brew Pub at the end of the rainbow. Spooky eh. The golf was on so thought I would get a Nobilo natch – “ok that is a Sav Blanc Sir “. I knew that of course but if you want to be smart about it I will have a beer then ok. Almost got away with it……. Getting the feel for this Portland weather now – yes there will be rain but there will be breaks. Deal wth it



Very lucky with weather and so Brewcycle kicked off with a great group although we were two men down which makes a difference trust me. It’s a great concept but much harder than it looks – or else I am not in tip top shape ! The 3 pubs were indeed “dive bars” which was all part of the fun and of course the night ended too early . Or not πŸ‘€ After one last round back at Backpedal I was talked into this ghost tour starting at 10 pm. On a Sunday night . What could go wrong ?. Now this was a great group and so ” we shall call him Tim” got us an Uber across the river to Javiers Taco place as were a tad hungry by now . Jesus 2 was hanging out for a cigar while Jesus 1 picked up the tab. Another Uber back to Pioneer Square with me new best friends and a short walk to the locale of “Beyond Bizarre” 2 hr walking tour. Tip – rename Beyond Boring. I have been on a lot of tours and this is the worse one ever – maybe because a dry tour to be fair. The hostess seemed like a failed actress who kept telling us about scary things that may have happened in this parking lot or that parking lot . “Do you feel a chill now ?” ” No shit Sweetheart , its 0 degrees in this fucking parking lot at 11 pm! What do you reckon?” . Only saving grace at end was a Voodoo Donut:) Totally sober now which was not a bad thing and bid my friends adieu and got my first solo Uber in USA. Easy as, will do again. So tumbled into bed at 12:30 am and although there will be no hangover tomorrow will be a distinct lack of sleep. And aching legs I suspect. Still it was one hell of a night and end to first full day in Portland. I may not make the week.

And now I know what JΓ€ger bombs are….








Seattlandia Day 1 – The Long Haul

Posted: February 26, 2017 in Travel

Always good to get a reasonable sleep the night before as pretty well awake for next 30 hrs plus. Novotel Brisbane Airport has a captive audience and charges accordingly but is a very comfortable lodging. Long term parking was prebooked for 07:30 amd so duly arrived at 07:31 and very smooth process . Check in was open also and all done and sorted and sipping champagne in Business Lounge by 08:10. This could get dangerous as Flight doesn’t leave for 3 hrs πŸ€“



Ok make that 4.5 hrs. 90 mins late leaving. These things happen but don’t treat us like idiots . Like update the info , don’t say “boarding soon” when not even a plane at the bloody gate . Just be honest , don’t say delayed til 11:45 when clearly not leaving until 12:30. Of course we made up an hour in the air and landed about 35 mins late . And then the nightmare begins at LAX. The initial processing is great but then you have to get your luggage , line up again and go through about 3 more checks. All in all 90 mins after landing I was asking a harassed lady so where is Alaska ? She said ” about 500 k north ” ” Ok thanks , just the airline will do at this stage ” Seriosly the signage is hopeless so you are always asking someone what do I do here no I have done this a few times ! Anyhow Alaska Airlines is in a termainl far removed from Qantas so my plan to spend a few hours drinking and eating in Lounge looked unlikely . Gate 66 beckoned with the great unwashed . After 10 mins I thought ” its 8 am I need a beer ” so went for a walk and out of corner of eye saw ” Alaska Lounge” . Being a Qantas partner , worth a crack. ” Of course Sir we welcome Qantas Club members” Yay . The next few hours passed quickly…. first US brew and it was free . Needless to say my Trump/ Clinton T shirt generates a few looks and comments but doubt too many know the Python connection



While on Qantas , the fleet is showing its age . Now one doesn’t complain in PE as still an excellent product but each time seems like some cost saving measure employed . No warm towels at start and finish anymore for example. The food is consistently excellent and you will not go hungry or thirsty but they don’t even come around and collect blankets at end. First world problems but as semi regular flyer you notice these things . Still a great airline of course

Alaskan ran well and on time and arrived in Portland feeling weary . Some lovely scenery on the way



Taxi drive to accomodation to meet owner and get lay of the land. Then asked about nearest public transport and mentioned the Tri Met app on iPhone.” Here let me show you ” . Ok where is my phone??? Figured I must have left in taxi and as luck would have it remembered the taxi ID number for some reason. Owner phoned for me and had phone back in 20 minutes luckily . Then it was time to get my US Sim for phone with a quick Streetcar and a few groceries before a quick FaceTime with CLP before collapsing into bed. Weather looks bit grim next few days






Posted: February 24, 2017 in Travel

And so the next adventure begins tomorrow and luckily I am a year older and wiser. Apparently. Certainly becoming an old, if somewhat blistered, hand at this solo travel caper. First up check the Holy Trinity of Pre Travel Checks – US Money, Passport, Liver . Tick Tick Hic.

Today will be spent celebrating birthday with various parts of the clan from some of the youngest to certainly the oldest! Being little Anal Annie that I am always travel down the day before a big flight just in case there is drama on the road or I sleep in. He He, never lost that sense of humour eh. Leaving Flashman Inc at Sunny Coast HQ gives me opportunity to catch up with da Beachmere Boys and remind them that just because Grandpa wont bring you back anything from OS doesnt mean he doesnt love you. If you disappoint kids early then it makes later life easier for them #grandparenting101. Then catch up with Mum and Sis for morning tea before heading over to Novotel Airport for the long wait.



Having already been spoilt for my birthday a couple of weeks ago it will be a quiet night with CLP before the fun begins tomorrow. And by fun I mean the Qantas Business Lounge with feed bag firmly in place for a couple of hours. In today’s edition of “what a small world we live in” found out yesterday that our Club Pro is also travelling on same flight but as he is the club Pro and not a touring Pro he will be down the fat end of the plane. Promised to save him some scorched almonds with the chocolate sucked off to get him through the arduous ordeal.

In last week or so people have been asking me the same question. Why are you so handsome ? To be fair I get that all year. They also ask “So why go to USA by yourself and what do you do there” I respond first up “To avoid annoying moronic questions” If I get a blank look I walk away . If I get a smile I elaborate. “Why Not ? ” Travel is an acquired taste I guess and the more you do the more you want. It offers different things to different people and what you yourself get out of it can be difficult to explain. Apparently . Choosing the destination of course is the first item on the list. Have been lucky to see many of the big cities in USA already and found out last year that while they still appeal returning to scene of crime can leave some gaps in the day to fill in. And women remember ya! Travel in a foreign land can be split into two categories largely – seeing da sights and living da life. Some cities like NYC have so many iconic sights to see that they can dominate your visit leaving less time for letting the city flow over you. Research is the key of course and I start early! By the time the trip rolls around then my Google Map is full to bursting with the “must sees” . If I see half the places listed in the week I will be amazed. If I visit half the pubs noted then I know it is Wednesday. Duh! Then the real planning starts. Usually book a few tours – Segway, foodie, drinkie etc. For a number of reasons this trip is slightly different

Portland and Seattle may not jump of the page as being on everyone’s bucket list in USA . Portland in particular is not noted so much for iconic structures but rather a way of life as in “Keep Portland Weird” . A nickname like Stumptown conjures up some interesting images certainly but is considered a friendly and laid back place – much like me then. Also known for its micro brewery and coffee scene so sounds like my sort of place – allowing for the fact of course that what Yanks call coffee is the type of stuff Trump is now allowing Coal miners to dump in the rivers again! Every town now has “craft breweries” up the ying yang but it seems Portland may have been one of the first cabs of the rank. It is also situated in a lovely area of the Pacific Northwest with many natural beauties just up the road like Mt Hood. This brings us to the second factor on this particular holiday and location – it is known to rain 24/7 at this time of year in both cities. I had to look up rain in Wikipedia to see what it was and actually sounds quite alluring. It does however put a dampener ( boom tish) on certain activities, particularly those outdoor adventures like a Segway. Going against all natural instincts I will be waiting to book them closer to the time. Of course pub tours are already done and sorted:) Of most interest could be the Brewcycle booked for first Sunday afternoon – at present showing sleet and rain predicted. Methinks there could be a cancellation coming. Oh well, a man can walk and pubs have roofs.

Seattle on the other hand has many well known structures like the Space Needle but this is where some research pays off as many locals suggest you get a better view, and less crowded , from Skyview on the 73rd floor in the Columbia Centre. Better still you can go to Starbucks on 40th floor and get a view for relatively nothing apart from a coffee enema! Research research research. One needs to acquaint one self ahead of the time with any peculiarities of the local transport system of course and download the appropriate app. In general never had an issue with getting around any city . Research also uncovers little gems like Bruce Lee gravesite is in Seattle. Who knew? For every Sleepless in Seattle landmark you may chase down there will always be that surprising sight you just stumble upon. Especially coming out of a Pub late at night πŸ™‚ Would love to catch the Victoria Clipper up to Victoria BC for the day so can say have been to Canada as well but very much weather dependent. There is of course the danger I could make Trudeau, J look a tad ordinary so for the sake of international diplomacy I have to consider these issues

So all the planning is done and in a mere two weeks I will be able to start planning the next trip. Ok fair cop – continue planning the next trip! Its a full 12 months ahead as noted previously but already an idea has formed for the CCC trip early 2019 – Chicago, Cleveland and Charleston. Snow baby Snow. Future trips will likely be at least 3 weeks to boot as a fortnight does pass too quickly really although I did read that Trump was considering 8 day weeks in future so he can fit in two rounds of golf a week. Still to experience a Trump USA

All checked in and relaxing in room . So far so good #McQueenS

Later Suckers

Better squeeze in one more before I jet off to far away lands. Consider it my Valentines Gift to all my secret (to the point of not even existing?) admirers. Passage of time is an interesting phenomenon. With 2 weeks to go until Seattlandia it seems like an age. Then you realise, hey I will be away for 2 weeks too. Yay. And then the time starts to fly and you realise, damn two weeks isnt a long time. A fortnight though ? Well that is different

The highlight of the fortnight was early birthday celebrations last weekend with CLP. Highlight for her of course that is πŸ™‚ First a quick visit to Woomby to see some offspring that aren’t Asher Keddie and then whisked off to a secret location.




A secret no more. The Emporium at Fortitude Valley is a great hotel in a great location and really the Teneriffe area is becoming a firm fave . A quick unpack and off to a lovely massage and then a couple of beers at Green Beacon as you do. Back to hotel and up to rooftop pool to cool off and look at the beautiful people hog the 3 deckchairs. To be fair its a small roof. Probably a foreunner of our cruise next year. Apart from the beautiful people – it will be walkers at 10 paces methinks. Then off to a simply superb meal at Gerards Bistro where I finally learnt what lamb sweetbreads are. After I had eaten them! It was a share plate setup which worked a treat and the service was excellent. Highly recommended if you dont mind it a bit pricey. Or someone else is paying πŸ˜‰





After that it was back to reality with a thump. Maryhole, not so cleverly disguised as Hell on Earth, was hot and dry. Poor golf course was suffering big time which is a tad tragic just as I was entering a purple patch of form. Beats the usual brown patches of late. At least there is optional tee up which sadly doesnt help my putting but has assisted in speed control at least. Of course the race is on as to which “news” outlet can have the scariest headline combined with the prettiest graphic. There is some serious shit going on here with devastating bush fires in parts but cant help but feel , much like a fire bug, some editors get off on it.

It didnt take long but officially Trumped out. Cant even get excited about return of Oliver, J as there simply is nothing new after 3 weeks of this circus. Of much more concern locally is the rise of Pauline Hanson. One can only hope that the antics of Trump may alarm some one nation supporters but that is a big assumption given most of them wouldnt even know where USA was ! Much like with the Democrats though the poor performance of the other parties allow these one idea idiots to gain some traction. People were mildly awoken this week when Talkbull get stuck into Bill Curly but as PK would say ” Amateurs Madam Speaker “and then rattle off the Abuse alphabet without pause. The glory days of King Bonza Rides Again. When one sees Hanson in action one cant help think of his classic line “all tip, no iceberg”

Speaking of low intellect taking over this wide brown land no clearer evidence then the continued production of shows like Married at ….. sorry I refuse to even say it. This realisation by producers that there is no need for thoughtful and clever productions has now seeped into an area that Aussies use to do well – the short biopic miniseries. The rot started with Brock and now has festered with Hoges. An interesting story to be sure but just so cringeful – Hoges and Noeline in bed talking about his “violet crumble starting to melt ” ? Help. Once again size matters. Get Lawson to play Reacher and Cruise to play Hoges .Done. Hoges was a smallish guy which most class clowns are – they are not physically intimidating and that is part of their charm. I will watch it because there are some great memories but seriously the only part they seem to have nailed is the black guy who gets his jacket ripped by “this is a knife”. Still there is plenty of good TV around and after getting hooked on The Crown great to read second series will have Dexter playing JFK. Now if there is one guy that slip through a big city doing all sorts of fun stuff without getting seen it is Dexter.

The Founder was a surprisingly interesting yarn about the birth of McDonalds – boy didnt those brothers get screwed over. Edge of Seventeen was a great coming of age story as well

And so viewers when next our hero returns it will most likely be from the Qantas Club in Brisvegas in 10 days time. Seattlandia was bedded down a while ago so as usual last week has been spent dealing with next years holiday and trying to get head around how it is cheaper to fly return to USA on special then it is to fly one way – as you need to do when catching a cruise in San Fran. When one asks on a forum , or even an honest Travel Agent, you are told ” What is your problem ,book return and just dont show up for second leg. Its what I do ” You check out other carriers then Qantas and usually that one nagging problem – like a stopover in Auckland first. So ,against all my instincts that planning is put on hold for now and we may just have to …… wait for it…… fly by the seat of our pants! There are bigger issues at present

Like, which beanie sets off my eyes the best ?



And of course the mandatory pre cold holiday no shaving for 2 weeks period has begun. Thank Me cool pleasant conditions are predicted to continue next fortnight…….. Might have to get the Whipper Snipper onto those eyebrows mind you.