Archive | September 2016

Food That I’ve Missed Tasting

I tend to daydream, now and again, about things that I once ate while growing up in the USA, but don’t have access to here in Denmark.

I used to work delivering newspapers in the dead of night. One of my stops was at a Donut shop, where I transferred some of my newspapers to another driver, and managed to eat a Bear Claw or two, while I waited for him.

Bear Claws and Donut holes. Now they exist only in my dreams.

Oh, don’t get me wrong about donuts. They are found here in Denmark, just not all of them at the same time, like in the States. Coming into a Dounut Store. Smelling those smells. Having them stick to my clothing while I left once again. Donut smells all day long!

Mexican Food is another thing. In Denmark there are two grades of hot. Mild and Spicy. Both of them being misnomers, for me anyway. Sometimes I might find Extra Hot and Spicy, which would only qualify for a tasty Mild as compared to what is found in California.

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Look here. Hot, thick and chunky! And hot is hot!

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It even has its own saying, “Flavor this bold, never gets old!

Fiesta like there’s no mañana with Chi-Chis Salsa and chips”

It tells it like it is, and doesn’t make any excuses for being a “Hot” sauce manufactured in Belgium, where they forgot to add the “Hot” to the sauce!

Have you ever awakened one day in Denmark with an uncontrollable urge for Cinnamon flavored Red HotTamales? No problemo. Just boogie on down to the nearest 7-11 (yes, we have them in Denmark) and lay your $2 on the counter. What? No, HotTamales? What is wrong with this Country?

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Can you feel it? Can’t you just imagine the artificial cinnamon flavor in your mouth?

I can…………

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Traveling by iPhone 4s 16

I used to have piles of maps in my pickup when I lived in California. AAA maps, Topographic Maps, you name it, I had it!

On this trip, I only have my iPhone. It seems a bit uncluttered, without all that paper in the car, but don’t worry about clutter, as I have charging cords, power banks and cigarette lighter adapters galore!

I’ve already introduced you to my GPS Danish-speaking guide, who has hounded me in and around Los Angeles. She continues on my route through the Desert, the Mountains, and probably will accompany me to San Francisco as well.

My iPhone 4s 16 has other talents as well. I am a bit embarrassed by not having a cracked glass, or major scratches on the backside, but I’m hoping that better times, showing that I am just like everyone else, will come! It isn’t as fast as the newer cellphones, and cannot use the newest Apps. I found that out while still in Denmark, when KLM airlines offered me their App to keep track of my journey. After having to remember my Apple ID and my devilishly clever password, which I had to look up of course, I then downloaded the App waiting for the best, but expecting the worst, as the saying goes.

“Sorry”, the iPhone told me, “your iOS is too old to use this App”. A part of me wanted to visit my local Humac Store and get the latest iPhone, so I too could enjoy the newest features and advantages of this new device. My bank account though thought otherwise. “Haven’t you spent enough on your pre-planning?” it seemed to say, putting “I want” and “I need” into a better perspective, than I had previously had thought about, so I put those thoughts on the back-burner for now.

No matter, as my iPhone 4s 16 (it seems important to young people to keep on reminding myself, what the cellphone is, and what it can do, by saying those things aloud!) was to be my true companion on this journey, new Apps or not.

I find it nice to be able to whip out my iPhone 4s 16, and take a photo when I choose to. My old Sony Digital Camera would want to check the atmospheric conditions, the battery and if the lens wanted to retract, before it was ready, which usually meant that the unique thing, that I wanted to catch on film, oops sorry, flash memory, was long and gone. My iPhone 4s 16 has shown me, that my memories can indeed be saved through its 8 megapixel lens, for my future enjoyment and need to remember the details of my trip.

Both my kids have the newer iPhone 6s 64, which tends to put my iPhone 4s 16 to shame. Their iPhones are faster, sleeker and more young-friendly, which seems to fit their ages and dispositions better than my iPhone 4s 16. “Old School” might describe my Cellphone, which fits by the way with their “Old School” father.

I would have rambled on and on, but my GPS Babe is telling me to turn to the left towards my next destination. It’s kind of like having my wife in the car with me, just without the constant reminders that I missed that last turn, and that I didn’t hear the noise that the left/right turn directionals make, because I needed that hearing aid, which would make everyone’s life easier and better and……

My iPhone 4 16 doesn’t seem to nag me as much, or tell me that I’m getting old. “Grow old with me baby!” might just be the epitaph that will adorn our grave site, if I decide that we should be buried together! Other than those few demanding times, when I visited California in September 2016, she/it seemed to treat me well! We didn’t make unreasonable demands on each other and she/it seemed to accept my iPhone 4s 16 for what it was.

And all 3 of us turned left together…….

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Don’t Say Souvenir, Say Junk!

I’ve told myself, time and again, “don’t collect brochures concerning tours and the like while on vacation.” I never listen to myself, unfortunately.

They seem so innocuous. Flashy and informative, some might say. Free souvenirs might be an excuse, but they end up at junk all the same.

Ticket stubs, boarding passes, receipts, crumpled maps, promises of experiences only found by taking a helicopter, or viewing the home of some Star, who is upset by the constant drone of helicopters..

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Who wouldn’t want to know where Christiana Aguilera lives? “Over 30 Celebrity Mansions”. “$8 off your $38 food, non-alcoholic beverage or merchandise purchase.” Just what does that $8 get for you then? I guess I should go Whale Watching instead. 2-2½ hour cruise available November through mid-May. Dang. I’m here in September. What is in it for me? “Enjoy other tours from Harbor Breeze Cruises”. Children under 3 FREE. That’s good news, they are too young to remember anything anyway, and I’d hate for them to be scared by Whales from November through mid-May!

There they are, at every turn, these flashy brochures found at motels, tourist sites, airports, on every corner and in every business. Someone must be making money, because all that colored ink does cost money. My own printer at home is very good at reminding me that my ink cartridge has gone dry, and for the measly sum of ..!..then I can get the color, bleu in my photos again!

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Wow. This might just be something for me! “It’s time to take another look at Richard Nixon”, or Harry Potter, perhaps? I’m not visiting LA that many days. What to choose, what to choose? Perhaps that helicopter can fly over Nixon’s Home, then through the Harry Potter Studio, then the Whale Tour, but only if it is from November to mid-May!

I realize that if I hadn’t collected these “throw-away-ables” then I wouldn’t be able to drive the point across with this blog, so they weren’t entirely wasted.

Toss them now? I could just scan them, one by one, and drool over the slick color photographs showing me all of the choices that I didn’t choose on my vacation?

I’ll be kicking myself for years to come, not having seen Christiana Aguilera’s mansion, but more so, for not knowing who she was in the first place!

Every time, from this time forward, I see a helicopter in Denmark, no not those big Military Jobbies, I’ll think of how I could have been on that Hollywood tour, with free 2-hour parking, including Wax Museum and a revitalized Richard Nixon Home – with Digital improvements!

They were, however, cheap souvenirs and worthy of a brag or two, that I got them while in LA. I never intended to use any of those suggestions, but that is not the point, is it?

The point is to brag about those places and shake my head in wonderment, together with those i read them with, that “Those Americans, huh?” Whatta you think about them? Yes, it is a big place, but don’t hold it against them, because they don’t know any better, do they?

They do make nice brochures though………………….

 

 

National Parking (1), and the Return of Wonder Dog (almost)

In 1970 my father took a bold step and told me that we would be climbing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. We would be backpacking in with one night before, and one afterwards. We managed to get to the top, but halfway up the cable ladder, I realized that my Kodak Instamatic Camera was left behind in my backpack, on the last horizontal surface before the top of Half Dome. No matter, said my father and we did the deed anyway.

I think about my younger self, and how my father might have had difficulties with that teenager back then. He was only 13, soon to be 14 and was beginning to think of hiking as a positive and exciting thing.

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My schoolmates used to ask me when the flood was coming, as I guess I was growing just a bit too fast for my clothing to keep up?

My Epic Journey is now taking me to the Jewel of the National Parks, Yosemite! In that regard I have the feeling that Wonder Dog is about to make his appearance once again, but in the guise of the younger me.

If this is your first visit to my blog, let me introduce you to the original Wonder Dog:

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Notice his trusting stare, his stress free disposition, and his ready to take on any challenge or new visage!

He’s been absent for a while, but again I feel his presence around me. He seems to be sitting on the seat next to me, looking forward to the next new adventure, or the opportunity to take a new nap.

My journey to Yosemite National Park takes me down Highway 49 from Placerville to the town of Sonora:

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The road continues from Sonora, but this is where I lost my connection to the outside world, which means that the hilly countryside blocked out my Internet for the next few days. Most people being used to this connection to the civilized world might just turn tail and head back to where it is safe, but I was bound and determined to visit Yosemite again, cost what it will!

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Big Oak Flat Info Center, located just inside Yosemite National Park.

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My/our first stop was the Tuolumne Grove Sequoia Redwoods:

http://www.yosemitehikes.com/tioga-road/tuolumne-grove/tuolumne-grove.htm

This 2.5 Miles Round Trip, is located just 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the Crane Flat Campground which I had reserved and paid for one overnight, from Denmark no less.

There were too many cars to park at the trail head, but the walk was level (so far) and our enthusiasm was high.

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Source: http://www.redwoodhikes.com/YosemiteNP/Tuolumne.html

Downhill was easy. We were smiling and looking silly, while the people heading back up were panting and not looking as if they were enjoying themselves. Since I last visited the Redwoods, the restrictions on protecting them have increased, shown by the pathways routed around the trees, not letting us put our arms around them, counting the lengths, and being amazed at the circumference.

I told my younger self about the other groves of Redwoods located in the Sierra Nevada, but he/I just marveled at their size.

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They make the other large trees, the Red Firs and the Jeffrey Pines appear to be dwarfs, compared to these giants of the forest.

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I had a bit of trouble orienteering myself among my old friends, but I took some bearings along one of the lesser lucky trees, and made my way to the other sights on this mini-journey!

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Trees made into tunnels don’t get to live as long as their untouched counterparts, but then someone thought of a way to make a buck back then, didn’t they. The original road, The Big Oak Flat Road, came through this forest, but was eventually closed due to rockfalls along some of its stretches.

No matter, but it did make for a quiet trip down into this small grove of Giant Sequoias.

We became the less-happy walkers on our way back up again. Wonder Dog Incarnate seemed to take it all in stride, having youth on his side and all. We were not to take anything from that forest, so we let the Sequoia Cones lie, until someone else chose to make that decision.

The campground, named Crane Flat, was waiting for us after our excursion. Dinner was prepared and our very, not especially camouflaged tent was set up, and the food, and other smelly things being placed in the metal Bear-Proof Boxes.

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The day was now over, but there was a new one that awaited me/us tomorrow.

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The bears were welcome to come, but I had to initial a form stating that I had followed the procedures, or else I would be liable for a fine up to $5000.

I slept as good as could be expected, knowing that I had done what I had set out to do, even having reserved my campsite on-line, so many months ago in Denmark.

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Things have indeed changed, since I last was here. The Internet has grown, and the trees have as well, but I was still able to enjoy the Yosemite Park, I had once known so well….

Next blog: National Parking in Yosemite Valley. Chaos became my first name!

 

 

Minneapolis International Airport- Inbound USA

This is number 2 in my series on airports during my trip to the USA.

Minneapolis Airport was much kinder to me than Amsterdam. Oh, there was Immigration check and Security restrictions, but I felt as if I was one step closer to my destination, and everyone spoke American English to boot!

Minneapolis is a funny place. The airport anyway. I like to look upon these places as if I never had visited the USA before, or had just been transported there by my alien spacecraft!

I took a $20 dollar bill out of my wallet to buy a coke. I apologized for the size of it, being $20 and all, but that didn’t seem to faze them whatsoever. During my absence of not visiting the USA for 16 years, inflation had rewritten my impressions of the value of the American Dollar. I thought that $20 was a lot of money, but even though I converted it from Danish Kroner to USD, and back again, I couldn’t make it fit in any way, shape or form.

I just sat there, biding my time and looking at the coins in my hand. The coins seemed to be thinner than I remembered them and their value was greatly diminished. If $20 wasn’t what it was, then they were less value then what they were before as well?

Security was tight. So tight that some of the other passengers objected to the taking photographs of the runway and airplanes from the waiting area.

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I explained what I did, and the Security Guard told me that it was allowed to take photos, and if I had anymore trouble about doing so, then he would back me up 100%!

I guess, it’s not easy dealing with us foreigners? Funny though how I had just come through Immigration without any trouble whatsoever.

Here is a photo taken, just before reading the sign, “No photos allowed here!”

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and I didn’t take the above photo, just to make that point perfectly clear!

Then there were the customary questions about who I was, where I came from and where I was going. No problemo – “You are an American and can stay for as long as you like!”

Wow, I love this Country!

When I looked outside, I imagined, I saw my plane to Los Angeles, just waiting for me to board it.

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It might have been my imagination, but I was ready to move on to my final destination, Los Angeles International Airport, LAX……

 

What? Jet Lag. Not Me.

One of the last times, I was out traveling, there was an article by Henry Kissinger about how to overcome Jet Lag.

Kissinger. Henry to his friends…No matter, it was about Jet Lag, you see.

You know those magazines that every airline has in the pouch in front of your seat?

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They (the magazines) are flashy jobs, which tell about how fabulous the last city was, belonging to the airport that you only existed in for the last 2 hours or so. There is though an article, I can assure you, that tells about how to counter the effects of Jet Lag.

Not me. Not on my trip.

3am Day 2. I am wide awake. If I add 9 hours to be back on Danish time (CET Central European Time) then it would be 12 Noon. Why would that mean anything at all to me? +9 hours and counting. My daughter writes to me via Facebook Messenger. “Hi Dad, what are you doing?” I should be sleeping, or resting my mind, but I thought I’d wake up at 3am just to Chat with my daughter!

Why 3am? Why not?

The current article, not written by Henry the K. showed sheep jumping over a fence. Sheep, music or earplugs, nothing seemed to work. 3 airplanes. 3 airports. The main flight over the Atlantic to USA had plenty of food and drink, while the others had complimentary this or that, which means something close to nothing. Jump sheep, jump!

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The first day/night in LA I awoke at 3am. 3am. No sheep in this room, just the roar of the Freeway outside my window, or an occasional Jet overhead in the nighttime skies.

My meals are not on time, nor is my usual routine. I am a traveler, driving a car in another time line, on other roadways, from point A-Los Angeles to point B-Los Angeles. Right turn allowed on Red Signal. U-turn not permitted. Starbucks Coffee on the right. I try not to think of Coffee. I roll over in my bed trying to sort things out. I really should be tired after having flown so many kilometers/miles over so many hours. I really should start looking for those sheep again.

I still can’t sleep. I turn on the TV and flip through the channels. Spanish TV – No. English – Yes. Traffic information. Traffic information at 3am? I must be in Los Angeles. A man has been reported to be walking on the on-ramp. The police begin to question him. Shots are fired. No more people on the roadway.

An accident involving many cars has occurred on Interstate 5, the Santa Ana Freeway. One of the cars has caught fire. Don’t use that Freeway, due to closure. I don’t seem to be getting any closure dealing with my Jet Lag.

There are amazingly a large number of websites offering sure-fire cures for Jet Lag. Try googling Jet+Lag+Sheep and see what you get. Sheep seem to be IN as a topic, but I didn’t subscribe to any of those cures, before I left Denmark.

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I seem to be in Flashback Mode. I am back on that plane, one of the planes anyway. The fellows in front of me are enjoying themselves, talking watching their monitors, then catching a short/long Catnap.

I can’t sleep on airplanes. Even with earplugs and mask, I still can’t seem to relax on those large metal tubes. My seat is in the middle of the plane, which doesn’t give me the opportunity of looking out at the world below, watching the miles/kilometers fly by, laughing as the sheep below are left behind.

Was it like this before? Did I have the same troubles back then, or is age beginning to affect my sense of day and night?

It doesn’t matter. I can’t control what my body says, does, feels. I just wait until it catches up with the current time, and forgets about the last current time.

Then we can have this discussion once again, when I have to journey back again……

Amsterdam Airport – Schiphol

This place is huge. I found a few maps of it, just to simplify things:

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The airport, however, divides the maps up into arrivals and departures:

Easy huh? Well, it seems that I only had a short amount of time between flights, and the arrival gate and departure gate were on opposite sides of the airport! Then there was security, with shoes, and belt off, carry on luggage x-rayed, and a lot of twirling about in a body scanner. Then I was confused as to being an European, with an American Passport, which only delayed me even more.

At the Gate, there was a new security scan with more inspection of carry-on baggage, while I imagined the plane taxiing towards the runway.

I had already enjoyed my snack on the City Hopper from Denmark, with water from Turkey and Cake from Holland, but I was in a hurry and didn’t get a chance to sample the Tax-free shops, while running through that enormous airport on the way to my KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines flight to the USA.

Things seem to blur a bit in all of my haste.

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but I had left Amsterdam behind me, for now anyway……………….