Archive for the ‘Sight Seeing’ Category

A Short Flight


I made a run up to the home office last week and had a nice flight up.  The flight path took us right by Washington, DC, giving a nice view.

Washington, DC


Thick/dirty plexiglass windows kinda kill the color, but it was neat seeing the silt patterns in at the top end of the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay currents


We finally hit some cloud cover, and descended into a thick blanket as we approached Newark.

fluffy pillows


As we hit the end of the runway, another jet hit the throttle to take-off.  We passed them for a few seconds, but they quickly caught-up and took-off.  It was fun getting to watch the whole take-off roll from right beside them.


Yuma Proving Grounds


On a flight from SAN-ATL back in 2010, I saw GM’s Yuma Proving Grounds. GM uses this for desert testing of its vehicles. The high heat and low humidity really put cars to the test. I’m sure it’s efficient, but can you imagine the monotony of driving around that big circular track for hours on end? There appears to be an improvised road course near the center, though, and lots of good off-road testing. I’m sure I could have fun flying around here for a few days!

Yuma Proving Grounds


Candy Stripes


When you’re dashing to your plane, do you ever take the time to look-up?  I’ve noticed some pretty cool architecture in my travels and wondered if any of you might recognize the ceilings you’ve passed under.

This one will be tough for most Americans, but it’s so bold that I thought it’d be a fun place to start this series.

bold lines

For the answer, use your mouse to highlight this line – Shanghai


What To See – Atlanta (ATL)


I know in my case, I tend not to spend a huge amount of time just hanging-around airports.  I get there just in time to make my flight, and run-off just as soon as the plane lands.  But there are often times some pretty interesting things to explore at the airport, if you can make some time.  I dropped my wife off at the airport recently, and then took some time to walk around.  Despite ATL being my home airport, there’s a lot I haven’t explored there.

In the South Terminal, between baggage claim and the ticket counters, there are a few cases filled with WWII aviation memorabilia.  Lots of model planes, identification cards, medals, etc.  Good stuff!

WWII Exhibit


This was an interesting pamphlet, designed to help people of all walks of life understand what they could do to help support the war effort.

What Can I Do?


This one seemed a bit odd to me.  If the planes have already made it over US soil and our radar or military warning systems didn’t notice…I don’t see how some kids on a hill top are really going to do much good.

Aircraft Warning Service


While I’ve never flown with a dog, people do it all the time.  I’d never given a moment’s thought to where they’d go potty.  Well ATL put in a small dog park after the recent addition of the rental car train.

dog park


Do you have anything interesting at your home airport?


Albuquerque Shooting Range Park


“Really? You saw that from the air and knew it was a shooting range?”, my wife said.  Yes, absolutely. :)

It turns out, the range is run by the city of Albuquerque and is open to the public for a very nominal fee.  Here’s a link to their website for more information.

You can see four rifle ranges on the left, and lots of pistol bays on the right, complete with a police qualification range in the middle (with concrete foot path grid).  What I didn’t catch from the air are the trap/skeet fields just SW of here, which you can see in the Google Maps images.

Albuquerque Shooting Range Park


And as I was looking around the area on Google Maps, I found this other range just a few miles north.  The Del Norte Gun Club has upwards of 20 bays, with everything from short pistol bays to 1,000 yard rifle ranges, with archery and shotguns in between.  SWEEEEET!!!

Ute Reservoir


This is the first in a series of photos I’ll post showing cool things I’ve seen from the air.  I love to sit by the window and watch the world go by.  While it’d be fun to go hiking in all these places to truly “see the world”, seeing the world from 30,000 feet is kinda fun, too.  So in this series, I’ll post a photo I’ve taken from the plane, and link to the Google Maps satellite imagery of the same object, so you can explore the surrounding area.

I’m going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time for the poor image quality in my aerial photos.  A) Airplane windows are often very scratched and/or dirty,  2)  haze is a contrast killer.  I do what I can to fix things up, but I think you’ll find the Google images are typically superior (as you would hope, given the millions it takes to produce them).  But enough of that…here we go!

This is the Ute Reservoir in New Mexico, and I loved how the color flows from red to deep green, as the sediment content in the water changes.  Mother nature sure is a beautiful artist!

Ute Reservoir

A Little Too Much Time In Tokyo


On my way home from China I stopped-off in Tokyo for one day of meetings. It’s an awesome place, filled with great people.  But that’s another whole post.

We stayed at the Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi, which was nice.  It wasn’t the most convenient to get to from Narita, though.  I took a $38 bus ride followed by a $24 cab.  Ouch!  Coming from China where you can take an hour long cab ride for $10, $60+ really stung!  If our flight had landed earlier we could have taken the bus closer to our hotel and saved the cab.  But the hotel was nice.  The room was a nice size by Japanese standards.  Fast wired internet was included, and the room was very comfortable.  There was a nice HDTV with lots of HD content…none of which was in English.   Oh well.

A comfy bed and a desk...all I really need.

After meetings on Friday, I went out to eat with our local salesman.  We decided on a grill-it-yourself place.  We walked into the small restaurant and all the staff started shouting something…I’m guessing it was akin to “Welcome to Moe’s!”

We ordered some Asahi on draft while he perused the menu, which was all in Japanese, without a single picture anywhere.  Good thing I trust the man!  Below, from top right:

  • Beef – It was marinated in something like a teriyaki sauce, and was quite delicious.
  • Horse – there were three cuts (neck, belly and leg), and all were consumed RAW.  Yea.   I had one sliver of each, and that was plenty.  The leg actually tasted pretty good, but no thanks.
  • Beef Tongue – I’ve had this before, and it’s not bad.  The trouble with grilling your own food, though, is that you’re probably not as good a chef as…well…a chef.  Plus tongue should be cooked “wet” (covered in water, etc), not grilled.  So it was quite tough.  The flavor isn’t bad, but it seemed an odd choice for this kind of restaurant.
  • Chicken – I don’t think they did anything to it at all, but at least it was a good piece of white meat.
  • Beef Intestines – I’ve had pork intestines, and I can now attest that they taste just like beef intestines.  Both taste exactly like what comes out of them.  OMG…I don’t understand why people do this to themselves!

Dinner, before we cooked it.

You cook things in the center, then move them off to the edge where they’ll cool a bit, but stay warm.  It’s actually a nice system for quickly cooking bite-sized bits.

personal grilling

There was a distinct lack of vegetation.  We had a small bowl of potato salad to share, and that was it.  Not even rice.

So that was Friday night, and I was headed home on Saturday.  My flight didn’t leave till 4pm, so I had some time to kill in the morning.  I got up, and had a quick breakfast.  They have a buffet literally in the lobby of the hotel.  It was a bit odd, but the high-top tables worked well.  Looking for something light, I just grabbed a bowl of cereal; corn flakes to be precise.  I wanted a little sugar on top, and there was a bowl right next to the cereal.  What I didn’t notice was that the bowl of white crystals was also next to the boiled eggs.   I took a bite and thought “these are the nastiest corn flakes I’ve ever eaten!!!!”  Doh!  Salt!  Take 2.

I checked-out of the hotel and walked down the street to the ANA Intercontinental hotel, just a couple blocks away.   As I walked out of the VF, I saw their glass walled smoking booth outside, with this sign.  I have no idea what those two people are doing, but I don’t think they’re smoking.

no smoking...or other activities

The Narita airport “limousine” stops at the ANA, so that’s the best way to get to the airport.  It’s really just a nice Greyhound bus, but it had wifi, which was quite helpful as you’ll see.  I bought my bus ticket, left my bags with the bellman, then headed north towards the Imperial Palace.

I took a bunch of photos…see the thumbnail gallery below.  While I was in the gardens, I was running through the time line in my head and nearly had a heart attack.  It was 12:25 when I realized that I should have booked the 12:30 bus instead of the 1:30 bus.  For some reason I had it in my head as I bought the ticket that my flight was at 5:00, but it was really at 4:00.  Given that the bus ride can take 1:30, it could be 3:00 before I got to the airport, and they’d literally be boarding when I arrived.  NOT GOOD!  But there was no way I was going to get on the 12:30, so I tried to relax and continue enjoying the gardens.

moat & tower at east gardens

My last task before reaching the hotel was to get a shot of me and the Tokyo Tower.  My kids are big fans of the movie Cars, and there’s a great little “short” called Tokyo Mater.  In the short story, Mater is a drift racer and has to race up Tokyo Tower.  It’s very cute; check it out on YouTube.  “Domo arigato, Mr. Tomato”  Brilliant!  I couldn’t seem to find anywhere to get a clean shot of the tower, and I didn’t have time to get any closer.  The kids thought it was cool, though.  :)

me and the tower

From there I pretty much ran to the hotel, changed out of my very sweaty clothes and hopped on the bus.   Using wifi on the bus I was able to check-in to my flight and get a mobile boarding pass in case I didn’t have time to print a paper copy at the airport.  Thankfully, since it was Saturday, the bus only took 1:00 to get to the airport instead of 1:30…so I had a whopping 0:30 to burn.  As an extra special bonus, the Sky Club at NRT has showers…but that’s another post.  I hope you enjoy the pix.

Notice that there are two pages of thumbnails, so to see the last pix you’ll need to click on “2”.

I put the map marker on the palace grounds.  Just zoom in and switch to the satellite view.

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Fairy Lake Botanical Garden


After arriving late on Sunday night, I had Monday to adjust myself to a time zone 12 hours ahead.  I find the best way to do this is to be active, so I decided to get outside.

I had originally planned to hike Wutong Mountain, which is the highest point in the area.  But I had difficulty finding anybody that could tell me where to start the hike, and the 20-something bellman at the hotel seemed to think I was nuts to try to hike up there.  :)  So I backed-off and decided to go see the botanical gardens which were located on the side of Wutong Mountain; I figured I’d get at least a bit of hiking in.  As it turns out, I had a great day.  The highlight was meeting this very nice family who allowed me to tag along behind them for a couple hours.  Below are three pages of photos from the day.  Enjoy.

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You Meet The Nicest People


I had the day off on Monday, as did most of you, and wanted to go do something outside.  I had done some research ahead of time, but I left the hotel feeling a bit low.  For a couple weeks I had been thinking I’d hike up Wutong Mountain; it’s the tallest mountain in the Pearl River delta, at over 900m.  I thought it would make for an exhilarating hike, but was having difficulty finding any information on exactly where to start the hike.  I read lots of posts online that talked about how it was a great place to hike, etc. etc., but nothing that said how to find the trail head.  I think I found it via Google Maps, but when I talked to the concierge at the hotel yesterday morning, they thought I was crazy to be hiking up there.  They said it would take an entire day, despite the 5 hour (rt) estimates I’d been reading.  And he was careful to warn me that there are no roads up there, so I would need to remember how I got up there, so I could find my way down.  I’m not worried about my land nav skills, but I was having second thoughts about my plan.

So the other thing I’d been reading about is their botanical garden.  It’s supposed to be “the most beautiful garden in China”.  Not that I’ve been to a lot of Chinese gardens, but that seems pretty high praise considering the size of the country!  Given that I wasn’t sure how to get to Wutong, and the concierge thought it was a really bad idea, I headed off to the botanical garden.

As it turned out, I had a great time!  The map they gave me at the entrance had English in the title, and nowhere else.  And their signs were an absolute joke.  So I wandered around somewhat aimlessly, finding some cool stuff.  Then at one point I stopped to pull out my map and a young family walked by.  One of the guys said, “Come on, we’re going this way!”  I laughed and said “Oh yea?  Where are ‘we’ going”?  They said they were headed for the temple (which does exist there).  They seemed like nice enough people in the 2.4 seconds I’d “known” them, and I figured…what’s the worst that could happen by walking off into the woods with a group of people I don’t know, in a land where I don’t speak the language?  Right?  LOL

I had a great afternoon.  Jimmy and his family let me tag along behind them like a lost dog for about 3 hours.  We visited several sites in the park that I might never have found.  Good times.  Photos to come soon.

New Friends

Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa


I worked from the hotel business lounge on Wednesday morning, because they wanted to charge $6+/hr for internet access in the guest rooms.  I was on my own for lunch, so I took a stroll after eating The Jerusalem Humus.

The beach was pretty quiet on a weekday at lunch.