England 2016

thames cruiser boat in front of Greenwich Maritime Institute

I’m very excited to say that I’ve been to the UK and actually left London this time! Kate and I went to England for a wedding and did a bunch of other stuff while we were there. Enough stuff that it may have been a bit too much stuff. But it was fun! And busy. I’ve had to make my peace with not really having a place-by-place recounting of my trips since to do that I’d have to take time off from my trip to write things down or narrate or whathaveyou. So here are some bare bones outlines and feel free to ask me about the rest of it. Trip photoset is here.

We flew into Heathrow and arrived at our weird AirBnB pretty late. Which wasn’t a problem except our host had given us the wrong keycode. Nothing makes you reconsider your AirBnB vs. hotel stance like sitting in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the middle of noplace, ten feet away from the bed you’re supposed to sleep in but with no way to get there. We worked it out (numbers had been transposed) but it was touch and go there for a bit. The place was weird and funky, I liked it a lot. Kate liked it a little less. It was well-situated to go see a lot of London and easy to get to/from places and walkable to some shops and things to look at. We noodled around in London for a few days, checking out museums and libraries and managing to deal with the incredible heat wave that we hadn’t packed for. Vermont is a little like London in that people don’t have a lot of fans or AC since it rarely gets that hot.

We then took a train down to Exeter (and then got a ride to Okehampton) where I was going to perform a wedding. I can’t legally marry people in the UK but I can do a nice ceremony (you can read it). It was so great to be in the countryside. Not only was it cooler but the AirBnB we had butted up against a farm which meant familiar smells of home (which was actually fine, I am not being passive-aggressive) and a GIANT BULL who would come by to say hello and we could chitchat with. There was a lot of driving on single-track roads and we met a ton of people every single one of whom was great to talk with and get to know. The wedding was one of those just-worked affairs where people were all up for it, the weather complied and folks were on their best behavior. After getting home from the wedding I just face-planted and felt like I slept forever. Sleep was a little hard to come by on this trip. Neither Kate nor I are great sleepers. I was just reading in a doctor’s waiting room that the first night in a new place, you’re only really half-sleep anyhow because some lizard brain part of you is half-awake being vigilant against… trouble. Makes sense to me.

On the way out we took three trains, missed two (scheduling nonsense, we were on time!) and it all worked out just fine. I even left my luggage on a train and Kate figured it out before the train left and the vacation was completely ruined. Look at me, sprinting in the train station! There were a lot of those little things: victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. We wanted to spend the last day just chilling and sidling up close to the airport so we stayed in Windsor and had a nice afternoon/evening walking along the Thames and checking out the castle and taking photos of swans. Yet another weird AirBnB (just two bedrooms and a kitchen, no living room but we knew this ahead of time and it’s really all we needed) but one that was just what we were looking for. Up and out the next morning and a decent flight home. Jet lag was pretty intense for a few days but it’s really nice to just be able to be awake when you need to be and sleep when you need to. And then Childnado IV happened (pix in the last entry) and I came back to Vermont a few days later.

So I know some people come back from vacation and talk about the food, or the shopping or the views. I mostly enjoyed getting nerdy about the places we stayed (and the libraries we saw) and otherwise it was just great getting to walk and eat and make jokes with Kate in an all new place. I love getting to stay in people’s houses instead of hotels and enjoy staying in neighborhoods instead of business centers and busy intersections. And it’s great getting to see friends and hang out with locals and the wedding was a great opportunity to do that. It was definitely a lot of vacationing for a not-that-long summer, but on the other hand, it was about time for a lot of vacationing.

return to soxboro!

So the wedding and all the other kerfuffle last weekend was a lot of fun. I went back to Vermont Tuesday evening after a quick visit to my Dad’s. Had a three day week which was meetings and houseguests and cleanup.

The guy who is caretaking my place in Topsham — yes it’s still standing, no I don’t really have a plan for it yet, thanks for asking — came by my place with a truckload of stuff of mine, just odds and ends. He dropped it all off on Thursday evening and the next night I was having overnight guests, folks from the internet who were stopping by on a New England driving vacation.

I did my handflappy thing of “oh my, the house is now a mess!” and set to looking at all the boxes of stuff and it was a speedy trip down memory lane. I found old newspapers from Burning Man 2001, part of a novel that Greg was writing, some things from my childhood [a sign for my door that said JESS made by my grandfather, the dress I wore to my high school graduation], a lot of miscellaneous cables, CDs [music and data] and lots and lots of paper. Apparently paper was very popular in my household in the pre-internet days. Or maybe it wasn’t and that’s why I had so much of it left.

In any case, I still had the five mystery garbage bags of junk left when my guests came to visit. They seemed game for whatever, and I was leaving town for ten days, so I did an impromptu “hey let’s see what’s inside THIS bag” fashion show and managed to separate everything into “keep” “toss” and “donate” piles. My guests were good-natured and amused and I got a big dumb project done before heading out on the Nova Scotia Road Trip to Maine which commences tomorrow. They drove off in the direction of the Vermont Country Store and I headed off to the bus station. Will let you know how Maine is. Signing off, from Soxboro.

I went to New Orleans and saw a white alligator!

pretty alligator

You can click on the gator to see more of the photos from my quickie trip to New Orleans. The worldwide party went off pretty much excellently. We really did have a guy at the South Pole which I thought was just terrific. I ate some Southern foods up to and including grits, gumbo, alligator (in aforementioned gumbo), po-boys, Abita beer (just like this blog’s name!), beignets, chickory coffee, biscuits and a whole lot of bacon. I did not get to try the praline bacon that other people had at the breakfast after the meetup because I was sleeping in, in the world’s most comfy bed.

I got back, via the long route through Boston/Belmont, on Tuesday night and have been hosting a houseguest until this morning. Then I went to work at the library where me and my friend Stan finally linked the first library record to library book barcode, starting the final big process to get the library automated which I’m hoping I’ll be able to wrap up in late August. It’s been raining, I’ve been feeling slothful, Summer is excellent and why am I still typing?

playing house

magic hour flower

I’m in Portland Oregon at my friend Lisa’s house. For anyone from college, yes that Lisa. Operation Take a Vacation is going pretty well though I just got the crap scared out of me by the mailman (mail comes right into the house through a slot in the door making a huge racket, scary!). Lisa was saying before she left for the weekend that she thinks one of the reasons we have such easy hangout time together is because we were roommates (in Hampshire speak: modmates) in college, so we’re used to hanging out with each other in our pajamas sort of doing our own thing. She spent a lot of time before she left baking — oh the smells! — and I was keeping up on work stuff and planning my next few months of library-spaking travel.

My idea of a good vacation is to go someplace I’m vaguely familiar with, usually a city, and wander around eating great food, taking some photos, going for long walks, visiting libraries, and seeing friends. While my vacations are relaxing, they’re not sit-on-a-beach relaxing. So far I’ve gone out for Ethiopian, PacNW [good beer, good beet salad], Mexican and coffeecoffeecoffee. Today is sit around and read day and then explore the niehgborhood. Tomorrow there will be a MetaFilter meetup and then I scoot to the airport for my flight thats a day earlier than I was expecting it to be. I packed for or five changes of clothes for this trip but I seem to pretty much be wearing one outfit and one pair of pajamas this whole week. One of these days I hope to miraculously become that person who can travel for three weeks with just a backpack. I think if I could leave all my techie gear behind, I could. Food for thought.