Day 3 (last day) San Diego

It always happens. Vacations have a time to start and time to end. I woke up this morning thinking that this is it again. One more day of walking and seeing here in San Diego. The plan starting out is that  I will reach up to Old Town and Presidio Park.

Its also the last day of nice days here and by tomorrow in the afternoon it will start raining through the weekend. I’ll be up early tomorrow to catch the return Amtrak from here to Los Angeles and then Los Angeles back to Jack London Square. Hopefully the train schedule holds this time and I don’t get re-routed through Bakersfield.

Now I sit here in the room relaxing and thinking about the last days of the vacation. It had been longer since a vacation but it still ends up on the last day of seeing things.

Today was it for me. I decided to go to Old Town State Historic Park today and see the historic museums, town buildings, and crafts and arts stuff. It was really a neat place. It took me about 2 hours of walking to get there from the hotel this morning. I had read about this training ship called the USS Recruit which is now on land and I got to see it today.

This was pretty cool looking I thought.

I then walked up to a main street that Old Town is on. Ended up taking about 1.5 hours of walking to get there. The park is really cool and I enjoyed the history and museums presented. Here’s a few pictures of the park.

I have to say one of my favorite places though was Liberty Station and I cut through it again on my way up. The promenade which is a border of the Station is just so beautiful. I will miss it and envy the people that get to walk it. The new part of it will open this year and then people can walk on two different promenades.

Before I knew it though, I had finished up it seems with tired feet and legs and a cold drink at Starbucks. My routine is to stop each day and get a iced Caramel Macchiato and glass of water and savor the walk and the day. Today it was bittersweet because its my last day and night here and tomorrow I wend my way back to the Bay area and work. So a few thoughts about walking in San Diego.

There are beautiful places to walk here and there are places to just get through to get to the beautiful places. I would come back again but my rule is not to visit a city twice for walking trips. It makes me focus on new places and also I can never compare two trips. San Diego was a beautiful and unique walking experience and there are great sidewalks and city streets to walk on. Understanding how San Diego is laid out makes it easier to walk main streets like Rosecrans and others. Beautiful walking trails are a normal thing here and I appreciate that immensely. The museums at Balboa Park and the waterfront are really nice as well. I did not do the Zoo or Sea World because I would only do those with my daughter force. For me, I wanted to see a piece of San Diego that I defined and its based on streets.

So there you have it. My final day of experiencing what San Diego could offer someone that walked it for three days. I could not see everything or even a fair share of what there is here and I said this when I was in Tokyo and Kyoto. I’ve been fortunate to walk in Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Kyoto. I’ve walked in Seattle, Portland, and Eugene as well. Its all been the same quest. A test of sorts I guess. Its not about passing or failing though. Its about doing a thing I like to do and when I sit in the Starbucks thinking about that walk to feel that it was all worth it.

And it was!

Day 2 San Diego

Went out and did the beer thing and slept until I woke up this morning :-). Last night I went for ribs and beers at Jimmys Famous American Tavern which was pretty good. Ended up back at the hotel watching movies.

Now I’m planning the day’s activities. Today I will walk over to the downtown area and tour around the Gaslight District, Balboa Park, and waterfront park areas for the day. Going to leave today by 10am or after breakfast comes and goes in the hotel cafe which actually has good food.

Just got back from an amazing day walking the city. My phone says I did 11 miles but I kinda doubt it. I walked down to the USS Midway and the other ships that are part of a floating museum. That was a great walk. Saw this kinda stuff.

Then walked through the downtown and up to Balboa Park. What a great set of museums and galleries and beauty. I loved the bridge to get in to the main site area.

I visited the Museum of Man there for a few hours. Really like the Egyptian sections.

After finishing up and being completely hungry and thirsty, started heading generally back toward the hotel which probably was a 5 mile walk by itself given where I was. I ended up at the Corner Drafthouse for a sandwich and suds.

At this point I had to walk down the street I was on all the way back basically to the Hotel.

I think San Diego is pretty nice for walking but the downtown section is a bit depressing in some spots kinda like most cities. I did not really stop there too much other than to buy some water and figure out how to get to the park from the waterfront which is quite nice and touristy. The walk along Harbor Drive east to west is very nice. There are bathrooms and water fountains, playgrounds, and the walkways are very nicely maintained. I got to see the Coast Guard and Naval facilities along the way. If you come to San Diego try to see both Balboa Park and the waterfront with the ship museums. I think its worth it.

Now I’m back in the room considering that once again I am at the last day of my walking endeavors. I’ll head back after tomorrow and as it happens that is when the weather changes for the worst. Today was simply beautiful out. Temperatures in the 70s and blue skies. Light winds and it all favors that pedestrian tourist that I am.

I’m going to start looking at what I want to do tomorrow and plan out an easy dinner. My feet are a bit tired at this point :-).

Day 1 San Diego

This is the start of day 1. Woke up at about 7am and am preparing for some food and then a day out. The temperatures here are gonna be quite nice T-shirt and walking weather I think! Its coffee in the room time now so I’ll save this as a draft post until I get back and update it with hopefully some photos and my rambling introspection of a day spent walking in the area of San Diego I have selected. I’m hoping to do about 5 hours today on walking and seeing and taking photo’s here and there. I don’t have a map or a set of left and right turns to make besides an initial direction and the part of San Diego I have decided I should see today.

I’m really excited! This is the first walking trip vacation I’ve done since 2015 and my Portland trip. First vacation since March of last year.

I just got back from the walk today and covered almost 7 miles and was gone about 5 hours more or less. It was a great first day. Got to see a lot of the neighborhoods of San Diego and a really cool ex Naval base which is now turned into a cultural, food, arts center with a lot of stuff to go do. Its called Liberty Station Park. I spent about 2 hours there including a nice lunch at Stone Brewing . Had a few of the beers they brew there and was treated quite nicely. Food was good too!  Here’s a few pictures from the day’s walking. I’ll post the link to the Google Photo Album when I finish the trip so you can see all the stuff.

Around the neighborhoods I walked in was a different story. Kinda quiet and the best part of the walk by far since I got to see sights that perhaps a tour bus would never see.

I’m not a terribly good photographer and tend to take photo’s to remember parts of the trip that I thought was fun, useful, unusual or unique. Kinda like this house which for some reason I saw twice on the walk today.

Ending up at Liberty Center was very cool and I toured around there for hours from the barracks areas with small shops to the park and I am gathering parade grounds.

So much for the first day on the trip. I’m back in the room thinking about my next steps tomorrow. I’ll get to downtown and spend the day there walking. Perhaps I will walk home and take a shuttle there or taxi. I don’t really care about the expense of things. I get a week to explore and drink the beers and eat and have fun and then its back to work.

I also have this draft post about traveling with technology which I will attempt to finish and post before my trip ends. I want to focus on the types of technology which works well when a person travels and what may be a hindrance. More on that to come!

Travel Mode Ensues

On the Amtrak, riding the rails with a slight deviation. The original train would have taken me direct to Los Angeles. Instead had to re-route to Bakersfield on the San Joaquin and then a thruway bus to Los Angeles and then the Pacific Surfliner to San Diego. Result is that I get in earlier and I get to enjoy a route I have not done before on the train.

Image result for san Joaquin amtrak route

That’s the ride I get to do now. Get to travel the San Juaquin Valley back to a place I once lived in and went to school and the place I met my ex-wife. Its a wacky and wonderful world we live in :-).

Now I’m on that train bound for glory like Woody once wrote. I’ll get in to San Diego hours earlier and start my day tomorrow exploring, walking, drinking the local beers and eating. Basically doing all the things I enjoy doing. If you’re wondering what luggage I may have taken on this trip, I’m all about exploring options. This trip went with a single bag which is the MEI Voyageur. It holds the clothing, the electronics and personal gear with room to spare.

 

The main pocket has enough room to store my clothing and core unit as described on my travel resource OneBag and the side pouch holds my chromebook and Kindle Paperwhite reader with room to spare. Its a great bag and very versatile for any kind of travel and can be worn as a backpack, carried as a bag, and slung over the shoulder. This was a practice excursion for me and I wanted to see how it was before going on the big trip next year.

I’ll be blogging the days in San Diego and the places along with photos courtesy of my Google Pixel phone. Now we are pulling into another stop here along the coast before going inland to drop down through the central valley.

Solo Travel Mantras

In preparing for my upcoming train trip to San Diego, I started considering the things I’ll bring. I’ll be gone 5 days. 2 days are spent traveling and 3 full days are spent tiring out this old body with walking trips in as many different directions as I can muster along with some Starbucks strength medication at the end of the day. But what to bring is always a question. Here are a few of the things I consider. Perhaps in your own travel planning you have done similar things.

Camera. Do I bring my nice camera? The Nikon CoolPix L830?

Or do I bring my Android phone which is the Pixel with its superior camera?

Image result for pixel phone

Answer: I bring the Pixel phone. It backs up to Google Photos and it runs on the superior Fi network so I get bandwidth across multiple cell phone providers.

Laptop: I only have chromebooks these days but do I bring the Asus Flip 2 C302CA

ASUS C302CA-DHM4 12.5-Inch Touchscreen Chromebook Flip Intel Core m3 with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM

or the Acer R13?

Both are travel worthy and have amazing battery life. Both have the Play Store with an assortment of applications and games.

Answer: I’ll bring the Asus Flip 2 C302CA. Its more flexible and smaller in size and it has the compute power and battery strength to last the required 10 hours! I also have the Android apps I love on it and it plays them well including stuff like Sling TV and games like RealMyst. Good things to keep me going when the feet are sore and the beer is cold after a day of wandering.

Then its about the luggage. I have a few choices there too. I have the MEI Voyager.

Voyageur

And I have the Tough Traveler Trizip

Oh the choices and choices. Both bags are road worthy and I tested the Tough Traveler on the mini trip to Tucson. Its a very nice bag. I am leaning toward the Voyageur.

Answer: Voyageur unless something changes.

I always go through the choices about electronics and of course that causes a choice on power adapters and whether I should bring my new router to test.

But here’s the real stuff. What to enjoy about the trip? There are many answers to traveling solo in the world or even on the train to San Diego. I travel solo because I can travel solo and because I surrendered for years the rights I have to vacation and enjoy moments spent with feet striking pavement and sidewalks and walking trails in the beat of my own life. The feet walking mirrors the thoughts which come and whisk around as I see the release I get with 17k steps or 7 miles or whatever that I don’t measure. Its hard work for a vacation some would say to walk a city each day. Feet become tired but the cold beer and food and blog posts show me new paths.

The real thing is the vacation and not the duration. Its the going and not arriving. Its not so much the planning since making decisions about the trip are the parts I finish early. Its more the longer range things which stick in my soul and mind. The lefts and rights in no specific order in a city that will not really note my passage but grant me moments to get lose in its varied splendor.

Decisions made. I’m ready for the vacation to start and my feet to strike that pavement.

 

Enter Tucson

Now I’m in Tucson for a evening of fun and frolic. Remind me to not fly on Southwest Airlines again. I’ll take United and their charming surliness over the “meat market” approach to SW. The 737 elbow room is non-existent and the bags of peanuts just as big almost. Folding down the tray table is an exercise in cramped living. I am so glad to have only had to fly for 2 hours or so. I like having a seat assignment and I like people telling other people to leave the stupid roller bags off the plane that obviously will not fit in the overheads. One person had this bag that any amount of coaxing would never have happened so it was left out. Left out to be checked. That’s what should have happened to begin with. I have about three bags which are within the TSA guidelines but do not have wheels and stupid aluminum frames and handles that extend. At the end of it all in Tucson I am gathering someone changed seats but left their bag behind where they moved so decided to the wrong way down the one way flow of people wanting to get the hell out of that little plane. I blame it all on the stupid roller bags that smash my feet, bump my head and that people tend to leave trailing behind them with no real consideration. Onward though to my stay. Done with the rant :-).

I am here for two days to do a bit of final work at a data center about 7 miles from here. Mostly to follow a truck with confidential servers on it and some network gear from here to Santa Clara and then on to Mountain View. It will take my colleague and I about 15 hours of driving to make it happen so I guess we will split it up. Hopefully take a break for food and biological necessities along the way.

This is the second time I’ve done this. First time was out to Dallas and that took about the same amount of time.

I did go for a walk on the so-called river walk loop here. Its kind of a dismal place where I would not want to be after dark. During the sunshine times it is kind of nice but I get the feeling they built it and then decided to really not do much more. Its not like some of the ones we have like Alameda Creek Trail. I did get in about 75 minutes of walking though so I am good. If I do not walk, I get this nervous and irritable feeling. I guess I’m hooked.

This little trip is but a prelude to my vacation starting in a week to San Diego. I’ll ride Amtrak there and back and play, drink, walk every day until my feet hurt and be happy albeit a bit drunk. Stay tuned for that travel bloggage :-).

Travel Mods

I’ll be on the road starting tomorrow for a few days to Tucson to finish up a significant project migrating hundreds of terabytes of data from one data center to another. We scoped the project as a 6 month gig but someone waved a magic wand and it turned into 3 and we got it done in the time. It also saves the company a lot of $$ and gets us out of a relationship with another company which is best ended. I think our management and executive team breathed a sigh of relief to see us get this done.

Next Saturday, the daughter and I will visit the fun and cultural Chinese New Year’s Parade in San Francisco again. Yay!

This time we will stay overnight in the city and enjoy the parade and not have to leave on an over-crowded BART train that night. We’ll stay at the classy and elegant Westin in Union Square. Right next to the route that the parade takes. That’s cool too!

Then after that, the last thing which is the week of vacation sets in and I get on board the Amtrak from Oakland to San Diego. This is a relief mission I think. Work had started becoming an issue for me of late because of a lack of time off over the past 10 months. Gonna fix that now.

I’ll be blogging that various trips starting tomorrow and then through the next 2 weeks or so as I go to various places and do various things with my wonderful and unique daughter force.

 

Travels here and there

I’ll depart for a few days to Tucson for work in early February and then after that, a week in San Diego via the Amtrak. For a number of years I’ve been a user and have great appreciation of OneBag.  The site is organized around a central idea about how to travel sanely and completely get away from checking bags or traveling with what I consider to be the bane of all existence those wheeled bags which seem to just barely fit into a overhead compartment. These bags also seem to conveniently run over feet, bump into heads, and be a major nuisance in the terminals as well.

There are two bags to consider. One I have had for awhile which is the RedOxx AirBoss.

Image result for redoxx airboss

This bag has seen me through months long travel to India, trips to Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam and all around the states in a variety of conveyances (train, car, flights). Its look is rather minimal so one has to find a method to pack it which will be optimal. Luckily OneBag also provides a template and approach which I have changed ever so slightly.

The main idea here is to arrive at a number of clothing easily packed. You create a central core which will hold small items like underwear and socks and then wrap things around it. I travel with the rule of four primarily. For a months long trip on business I only packed 4 pair of underwear, socks, and t shirts. I also packed a second pair of jeans. Perhaps I was lucky in that work did not require suits and ties. Since I was going to a warm climate, a jacket or flannel was not required except for leaving so I wore it.

This bag then fits into just about any overhead compartment I have found on flights. Smaller regional aircraft and larger international flights. When I get to the destination, I’m already out the door by the time the other frustrated travelers are getting their checked bags. In another example, I traveled to Singapore and on to Chennai India but the company booked the tickets through for me with only two hours layover and then the connecting flight was delayed. Had I checked the bag, I would have been without just about anything I could have really used. Having everything with me in a traveler’s hotel in Changi Airport was very handy!

A Second Bag

I’ve wanted a different form factor bag for awhile. The AirBoss is good but its not a backpack type bag. So I started looking. OneBag again has recommendations so I found a second bag that I will start using that also fulfills the packing and TSA size requirements. The second bag is the MEI Voyageur.

Image result for mei voyageur

This bag fulfills a different set of needs and if you read its reviews and uses, you can see it has a different set of features and functions than the AirBoss. It is very flexible, turns into a backpack but has that core room needed for the rule of four I travel with. Now I have this bag and cannot wait to give it a try on both my Tucson and San Diego trips.

Travel Conclusions

If you have traveled and have felt the frustration and irritation with the whole checked bag thing, check out the resources I’ve listed. I’ve found the rule of four to be indispensable in lightening my load and giving me a truly flexible travel arrangement. You simply do not need much. In another example a friend and I traveled together. He checked his bag and was then bumped from the flights or they were changed after his bag was checked. Where was the bag when he got left in Denver for an unplanned night due to weather. I have been unceremoniously dumped at airports but have had the AirBoss with me with my stuff.

Give it a try when you travel next and see what you think. Its very liberating to not have a checked bag that rolls around on those irritating wheels behind you.

 

 

Sunday Tech Talk — My two new favorite devices

I got tired of all apple gear so shipped it off to my friend in in Salem, Oregon. Gone are the iPhone 7, two iPads, a Macbook Air 2015, and a gaggle of cables. There is something about the gear which bothers me, dumbs me down, makes me less able to fumble around and change things. No custom launchers or icon packs on the phone or changing the default apps for the browser, calendar, email yet you can do it easily on the Macbook. Why? Or better yet Why not? I like futzing with things. Android is better for me because I can do futzing.

Two devices now become new favorites for some period of time.

Acer Chromebook R13

acerr13

This device is big for a convertible tablet and I like it. It folds over to tent and tablet and the build quality is stellar. Change it to the Beta channel and you get the Android apps and can install the office apps, games, android things you like. I like Flipboard better on Android. I like MS Office apps or the choice to use the real apps and not the shadowy online ones. I like a few games. I can install another browser if I want.

This laptop comes with 64gb of storage and 4gb of memory. It seems very quick on the uptake and its quiet folks. No fan running and the Mediatek processor seems very capable at powering the things I like doing. This wins a spot on the desk in my room.

Surface Pro 4

surfacepro4

Now the second device. I bought this thing from Swappa so its gently used and I got the keyboard case, the pen, the charger and the version of the Surface which has the i7, 256gb of storage, and 16gb of memory. This thing is quick folks and does not stutter on the office apps like the earlier Surface Pro 3 I had. It also has less battery life and runs about 5 hours compared to the 12 hours on the first choice.

What it does do that I like is have a really portable environment that folds up on itself and runs the group of regular old Windows applications I have managed to collect. I like mostly free or open source applications and I have an Office 365 personal subscription so I can install on up to 5 devices.

Using it at a Starbucks yesterday convinced me that this device really performs well at regular tasks and multitasking applications for me is excellent. Copying data, sharing information to my journal or splitting the screen is nice on this.

Be sure to bring along the power connector when you venture out.

My final device is not a favorite but I use it because the company gave it to me. My Samsung Galaxy S7 is free and the mobile plan is free and I use it but I don’t particularly like it or recommend it. I don’t like it enough to recommend it but it works with the Airwatch MDM and Boxer mail good enough. If you want an android phone that’s capable get yourself a Pixel. If you want a consumer device check out the new LG phones or perhaps the Huawei as an up and comer.

The Galaxy S7 is just another Samsung phone with no real thing to recommend or desire or cherish with it. Its paid for each month so I use it.

Then I come to the farther out thing. Which device if either would I choose to take on the road? Neither. I would not take the Acer Chromebook R13 or the Surface Pro 4. I definitely would not take a phone. You can get something smaller, more portable, with enough wifi phone functions (think Skype or Hangouts or VOIP) to make things work remarkably well. It would be a chromebook though because of its nature and how I could completely redo the laptop or powerwash it in minutes. If I lost the device, a replacement is only a few hundred dollars. When I think of how the Surface Pro 4 runs with all those DLLs and INI files and registry things, its scary. One false move and the thing could be a multiple hundred dollar paperweight. On the road you don’t need that.

To me, you need a device at about the 11 or 12 inch form factor with up to 12 hours of battery life. Something like the Acer R11 or Asus Flip. You don’t want something to kick butt. You want something to save your butt.

 

Thoughts of India and Singapore – The solo traveler in me

It was back in 2009 through about 2011 that I traveled for work. I went to India about every three months until 2009. Then the company asked me to go for a longer time to prepare a major software launch on new hardware. I lived in Chennai for about 7 months that year. Had side trips to Singapore each time that the company paid for. Also stopped in Japan and toured around Tokyo. At the end of 2009 went to Hanoi and Singapore again. In 2010 more trips solo to India, Japan, Singapore. Then the company closed the India office and that basically signaled my departure.  In 2011 I went to Sydney, Singapore, Chennai, and Kyoto and then…

It all stopped.

I stopped traveling because of a few reasons. None to bore you with here though. Instead this is a story of solo traveling to many places and things I’ve learned doing it for work and play. There are two main things for me traveling solo.

Thing 1. Train travel is much better than flying or driving. Trains are not about the destination but the getting there which for the solo traveler in me was good. I trained all over it seems like but still not enough. I took train trips to Mysore, Kyoto, all around Tokyo if you count subways, and then on amtrak here to Eugene, Portland, down to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara. Train travel for the solo traveler is the best. When I solo travel on trains there are no rules. There are no impatient feet tapping on the passenger side of the car. Asking the inevitable questions. There are no surly passengers pardoning themselves and squeezing into seats not meant for them. Why is it that I sit next to truly large people on flights? Train travel for the solo traveler replaces all this with a slower and saner pace where you do not count the miles or hours left or ask for location services. The train dispels all that and replaces it with the soothing beat of wheels turning on tracks and an observation car that lets you… Observe.

Thing 2. I walk when I travel. I pick out cities to go investigate because I want to walk in them solo. I don’t want someone asking me if I should turn that next quiet street in Tokyo or walk back up to the bridge in Sydney. I set out on a day of solo walking in solo travel mode to simply see. Not be bothered with strides and miles and complaints about distance or weather. I don’t care if it rains in this Thing. Rain is fine and sun is good. A mall in Kyoto cools me off and feeds me a huge bowl of noodles while another in Portland when it was in the high 90s had an ice rink and cooled me off. So I excel at thing 2 on my own. Walking and seeing and stopping for a beer at a brewpub I carefully select. Like sitting in Deschutes Brewery in Portland and studying. Watching that next table almost surreptitiously. That family laughing and eating. I always remember the fractured family I have and ask the same question when I do Thing 2. Do I miss it? Yes and No. But saying yes to missing it does not mean I want it back. That other thing was broken and those years after 2011 until 2014 with no travel hurt me. Thing 2 could not be done.

Now I dream of a trip. The mother of all trips. That one after work finishes for me and me in my waning years transports back to Japan. Perhaps on a ferry boat to Shanghai from Osaka or a train ride to Hong Kong. Maybe a hunkering down in Malaysia or Thailand and living. Seeing and doing both Thing 1 and 2.

I need both of them. I have this work thing but I don’t have either of the things now. I will take vacation though in January and do one or both of the things. Hopefully both. Solo travel means getting back to sitting in Terminal 3 in Changi with no place to really go and all day to get there. Watching the other travelers bothered and frustrated as I sipped a latte and watched. The dreamer in me dreams and the realist figures. I’ll go again because Thing 1 and 2 await my pleasure and I cannot let them go. I’ll travel to Austin Texas on Amtrak so I get a fix. Its a narcotic that travel and I am going through  withdrawals. It hurts for this traveler.