Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Wonderland

The first snow of the season has struck the DC area. We have a couple of inches all around. Not as bad as past storms but bad enough to close the federal government and all the local schools.

Sunshine and I stayed home, however, I was teleworking. Sunshine set out to do some house work. Normally we take a stroll around the neighborhood in these days. If only to combat the cabin fever that sets in.  This day we did not. The day was not all lost, it turned out to be a great afternoon. So we took a drive to the mall and had some dinner at the food court. 

This is another post from the iPhone. Be safe and have a great winter. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

What the heck is wrong with the Senate?

Used without permission from Harry Reid's website.

Okay Senator, what exactly are you thinking?  Are you sure this is how you want to handle appointments?

It seems that the Senate is too busy to pass a National Budget, however, you are capable of changing the Senate rules to stop the filibuster in the case of presidential appointments.

So,....  Let me get this straight.  You can change the rules with a simple majority?  However, a few short years ago, you thought this was a bad idea, 

I think you will hear from some folks about your tomfoolery in the Senate.

The founders envisioned the Senate to represent the state governments in the Congress.  Well, since the direct election of the Senators, the Senate has failed its mission.  It no longer protects the rights of the states.

When FDR tried to expand the Supreme Court, the Democrats stood up to him, because it was not a bad idea.  The sham you are pulling is also a bad Idea, and I personally think you are going to hear a lot about this decision very soon.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall is here, Winter is coming!!

Blue Skies

This has been one year.  I would say it was a great year, but that would not be entirely accurate.  I have had some years that have been worse, but I have had many more that have been better.

As fall is here, i wanted to say how much I really like fall.  The weather is not to hot, and not to cold.  I was working at my house that I am selling, and took this picture.  The sky was so blue.  It was a little chilly out, but I didn't mind.  I stay bundled up in my fall clothes, and its isn't too cold to work.

Winter is coming, the bad thing about this time of year, is it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get home.  I do so enjoy the day time.

Here are 5 things I like about fall:

  1. Cool nights, and Warm days  (Should this count for two?)
  2. Football is here, all though my teams are not doing well, I like football.
  3. Christmas is just around the corner.  
  4. Thanksgiving.  I love food, and thanksgiving always has food.
  5. It is easier to cuddle with my sunshine. 

What are some of the things you like about fall?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 2013 Quick Hits

This November has been one heck of month in life and times of Tronster.  Last month, our leaders shut down the government for a couple of weeks, throwing a monkey wrench in my plans.  This month, I have been transferred to a new company and I moved to another location. The shutdown has affected the selling of my old house and now I still have it, and I wanted sold by now.

Moving forward, we had an election here in VA, I am sure if you live in the USA, you have heard about this election.  It was all over the news.  It ruined TV for two weeks, as the ads on TV were terrible.  But that is over now, and our taxes are sure to rise in the next few years.  Oh well.  

The short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas apparently is a different this year.  Which would explain why ever since Halloween there has been Christmas stuff at the stores.  

I must say, the announcement by many retailers to open up on Thanksgiving is disappointing to me.  Why not leave this time of year alone. Again I think it has to do with Calendar. Retailers want to separate people from their hard earned money for a couple of extra hours this year.

I was never a fan of the “Black Friday” rush, just because I do not like being around that many people, but I do understand why people like the idea.

Everyone Be safe out there and have a great a time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Moving down the road!!

Well I have missed a few posts that I have been wanting to make.  I have been relocating Casa de Tronster.  Not a real big move, just 6 miles down the road.  But what a hassle it can be.

Sunshine and I are downsizing from a 3200 square foot home to a 1300 square foot home.  This means I have a lot of "stuff" to go through and find a way to store it.  We decided to get a storage unit.  This unit is now 80% full.  We have moved about 90% of our stuff and the new place is almost a home.  We have a couple of more things to unpack, but it is moving along well.

A couple of things I learned moving:

1.  First in last out.

When you load truck for moving, the first thing on the truck is the last thing out of the truck.  You may think this is common sense.  I have moved a few times and I normally remember this particular rule of physics.  I wanted to share this with you.  So if there is something going into the front room of a place you are moving into, make it one of the last things you pick up.

2.  A bigger truck is not always easier

This time, I elected to go with a smaller truck.  Make sure it has a ramp before you leave the rental store.  Ours did not have a ramp, not that big of a deal for what I wanted to do.  I know I have to pay milage of the vehicle, but It was only a six mile move, so we went with the smaller truck to make more trips.  I packed each room into the truck separately.  This allowed me to unload the truck for each room.  Starting with the room the furthest from the door.  The smaller truck was also able to navigate around the tight parking lots and drives I had to go through.

3.  Everything in a box, every box should close

It is difficult to stack stuff on round items.  When using a smaller truck, there is only so much floor space to work with.  So you should have boxes you can stack.  To stack boxes the boxes need to close.  If you are working on a tight budget, you may not be able to buy boxes.  So when you go to get boxes from friends and family, ask for boxes with lids and/or can be closed.

4. Big boxes are not always better

Big boxes are great to hold pillows.  Not so much for your collection of books.  Be careful not to make any one box so heavy it requires to men and boy to move.  Sheets may seem light, until you put thirteen sets into a large box and need to relocate the box.

5. Have a plan

When you beg your friends to assist with a move, and then waste their time, this not good stewardship of your friends time.  Have a plan.  Execute the plan. That way there is no question on what you are trying to accomplish while you have help.  If it will take longer than your friend has time, then have him assist with the items you need assistance.

These are some of the things that help me move.  I hope you this little bit of advice will help you too.  Have a great day.


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Jakarta Drive Through Zoo.

There are always adventures at a zoo!

The Jakarta zoo has a drive through area where you can see some dangerous carnivores. There are a few international visitors to the zoo, and they wanted to make sure no one is injured due to not thinking.  Putting up signs in the local language would not be good enough.  (Or it did not work in the past).  So they painted big signs with advice.  Lions will eat people as much as a gazelle.  The king of the jungle will catch you if you run.  So this was one of the signs as we entered into the area that was housing the lions.  I thought this was a great idea.  I read about once a year or so as to how someone has been eaten by a hungry lion, tiger or bear in some reserve or refuge for big hunters.  They may not have this sign in the zoo you are going to, but it is still relevant no matter what zoo or wildlife venture you participate.

It was a warm day when my friends and I hit the zoo.  The Lions, as you can see, were not all that interested in our car.  Which is a good thing in my opinion.  There are no cages or anything of that nature.  Not much of a fence when you drive through.  Each section of animals were separated  by large fences, but the cars could drive right through.  This was a great way to spend a Saturday.

I understand there is a Safari animal reserve in Northern Virginia.  Sunshine and I will think about a trip there before to long to share with all of you.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is a test. A test of the blogger iPhone app.

As a test of the iPhone app, I figured I would try to post something from my phone. We shall see if this works and try to determine if this is a viable option for adding content to this great blog. 

Thursday I took one of my vehicles in for the annual safety and bi-annual emissions I am subject to as a resident of the DC metro area.  On Thursday the great truck I drive back and forth to the hardware store failed its safety inspection.  Why?  Because of the light "behind the camper" is out. Really?  That is why you are going to fail this great truck that has served me so well?  Wonderful. Can you fix it?  Seems like a reasonable request. Oh no, we would have to remove the camper to perform that repair. Great. Now I have this great bug red sticker that says rejected. 

On the way home I pick up the required lamps. The plan is to fix this travesty on Friday. Lord knows I do not want my burn out light (behind the camper) to cause any problems. 

Today I returned to the inspection sight and got the proper documentation to allow tronster's truck to keep on trucking. I did have to wait until the inspectors lunch break was over.  A condition the only other guy at the station was unaware of. 

Inspect your vehicles early. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

New York City!!

Road Trips are so Much Fun..

Recently Sunshine and I went on another road trip, over the next couple of posts, I will share with you are experiences of setting up the road trip, some lessons learned and places we visited.  I really hope you all enjoy the stories as much as we enjoyed living them.

Summer vacation time  is on its way.  It has been very wet here in Virginia.  Our typical July 4th consists of going to downtown DC and watching the parade then the fireworks.  A long day, considering it does not get dark until 9 pm and the parade starts at noon.  This year we took some time off from work, loaded up the SUV and headed to visit some friends.

Our first stop was New York City.  Sunshine is from the Philippines and her old neighbor has moved to New York. We decided to stop by and visit.

 Visiting friends in Queens, which if you are wondering is no where near Syracuse, we loaded on the subway and headed to Rockefeller Square to see were they put up the Christmas tree.  We get off the subway and see Radio City Music hall right up the street and take a moment to snap some photos.  
The subway was not busy, and our guide was not familiar with the area.  So we fire up the smart phones and determine, we need to take a right.  We start walking down the block and observe a class of young ladies having their picture taken imitating the Rockets. 

We Make it Rockefeller Square and lo and behold, there is a stone hedge area.  What is this all about.  I will have to provide an update later, I confess I have not done my research on that part of New York City yet.   Walking around the square we see the falls and the restaurants where the tree would go.  It is a great looking place and seems like you could have a good time just eating and having coffee.  We had a schedule a keep.  Not to mention the caravan was getting hungry and we needed to find some food.  Sunshine contends she has never been to Times Square, in the day time, so off we go.

Although we did not eat at the american staple fast food establishment of McDonalds, I did think the sign was very interesting for a burger joint. Later walking by McDonalds, this is a walk up place and I did not notice any tables. Does not mean they are not there, just I did not see them.

Keep coming back, Tronster will take you through the trip from DC to New York, New York to Cooperstown, The baseball hall of fame, Toronto and other exciting places we visited on our little road trip.


Monday, July 01, 2013

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Gals

On one of our road trips, we stopped off at a McDonalds.  McDonalds is a place to stop in a pinch. Its not a place I think of when I am hungry.  Well one of the McDonalds we stopped at had a great 50s theme.  The restroom doors were decorated.

Just thought I would share this little interesting tid bit of information with all of you.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nashville Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

A great opportunity was presented to me a couple of weeks ago, so my wife and I took full advantage.  Leaving our home in northern Virginia, we headed to east Tennessee to spend the weekend with a dear friend.  Well, they did not want to sit around and do nothing, so we loaded up the old SUV, and headed to Nashville.  It was only a day trip, and we had had Tickets to the General Jackson showboat.  

The folks that put on this show are very friendly. We load up the car, pick up another friend and off we go.  Arriving about an hour before departure gave my wife and her friends the chance to go shopping at the near by mall.  Then we grab our tickets from the desk and off to the pre-boarding area, where there is a musician entertaining us while we wait.  Directions for what to do are announced and then boarding begins.  During the 3 hour cruise there are two separate lunch settings.  Since we were a little hungry, we got the 2nd seating.  Figures.

From the fan tail, that is the back of the boat for you land lovers, we can see the other showboat docked next to the pier.

The general idea, is you load up, look around, by some drinks and enjoy a cool day on the Cumberland river.  The boat, a paddlewheel, takes about an hour to get to downtown Nashville.  You can see the coast of the river and they have a couple musicians entertaining you on the top deck of the ship.  These guys were really good, and they mixed in a lot of comedy with music.

After the ride to downtown, and setting in the sun for an hour or so, we were ready to eat.  Lucky for us, they were ready to serve.  It is an unlimited buffet and show.  We were watching Shotgun Red and a his something or other.  I forget now.  Regardless, it was also a comedy musical show.  All though the show seemed a little rushed, we still enjoyed the entertainment very much.  The scenery was also a good way to relax on a Saturday in Nashville.

Cumberland River

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Places to go, Places to eat.

Where has Tronster been for the last couple of weeks.  I like to try and update the blog about once or week or so, but work has been tough, and we have been traveling again.  Once my dad told me "Young people go see stuff, and old people go eat stuff."  They live in a small town, and the culinary selections for my parents are limited.

A couple of weeks ago, Sunshine and I loaded up and headed to east Tennessee.  This past Memorial Day weekend as a matter fact.  We first joined some friends at the Philippine American Association of East Tennessee.  There we have some great fellowship and some great food.  Because we traveled 8 hours to get there, some of our friends saved us a little bit of the food.

But this post is about the Applewood Farmhouse Grill, in Pigeon Forge.  Its not on the main road, but just a block off.  The grill front yard is full of apple trees.  There are a couple of shops around that I would liked to have checked out, but we had to get to Dollywood.  As we arrived around 10 am, the Applewood Farmhouse Grill was pretty busy, a table for 3 was about a 30 min wait.  When we were seating in one of the 3 dinning rooms, we were greeted by a friendly staff.  They bring out apple fritters and muffins with apple butter.

Sunshine orders a nice breakfast combo, with a side of suger ham.  It was the size of a platter.  Needless to say, we had a half a platter of ham for sandwiches.  I had the pecan pancakes.  They were awesome. The were thick and fluffy.

Overall the Applewood is a place to stop by for a real big breakfast on your way to Pigeon Forge or Dollywood.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Cicadas are coming!! The Cicadas are coming!!

The Cicada is an insect that is pretty large and has wings.  The east coast of the United States is about to be hit with a wave of cicadas from a Brood II infestation(?).  Apparently there are two prominent types of cicadas.  The ones that live underground for two to eight years and the ones that live underground for seventeen years.  This is the year of the coming of the seventeen year breed.

Now it is rumored these guys will be in the millions this coming week. (Maybe next week).  According to the all knowing Wikipedia  these little guys only live about 4 to 6 weeks after maturing to the adult version.

I am no expert on insects.  I do not pretend to know all that much.  That is why a wanted a little more information on these critters to make sure there was no danger for me or my family.

Turns out they are pretty much harmless.  To humans anyway.  The female will crack open a tree limb or two and plant thousands of new eggs for 2030.  I am sure I don't want to see them again.  However, I am sure I will.  If blogger is still going strong in 2030, I will have to write something about them again.

Now as you can tell from these photos, they have wings.  I am not sure why, I have never seen one fly.  There are about 15 or so flopping around in my driveway and front porch.  I was watching them earlier today and it looks like they are crawling everywhere.  Then when they get flopped over, they struggle to get back on their feet.  Do they fly away? Nooooo.

Anyway, here in NOVA, we are preparing for the infestation.  How you might ask?  Everyday I get up and I go to work.  That is about it.  You can search on the web and find some ways to protect your trees, however, I have mostly pines and they don't like pines.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Air Boat Rides!!!!

If you are on a trip to south Florida, the Everglades are place to stop.  The landscape is majestic and different from just about anything you can see anywhere else in the world.  There are wetlands everywhere, but the Everglades are awesome.  In the tradition of things to do when you are on vacation, an airboat should be on that list. I had the opportunity to visit the Florida Everglades in Coopertown, FL.

We woke up early on Saturday and hit the road heading south on I75.  Florida uses lanes that have tolls without toll booths.  I believe they called them "Hot Lanes"  Apparently they take photos of your license plate and send you a bill if you do not have an EZPASS device.

Regardless, we arrived at the airboat ride establishment at a good hour.  They had been open for about an hour, but there was no traffic.  Our group was big enough for a small boat.  (The boat could hold 8 and there were 5 of us)  They have larger boats for bigger groups, however, our was a good size.  The driver/boat captain was very knowledgable and gave a great tour.  Even though the everglades water level was low, he was able to run the boat at a high rate of speed, take us to some sandbar type locations and pointed out several large gators.  Apparently, some people have been releasing pythons into the everglades which is causing problems.  However, we did not see a single snake.

Check out this guy.  He seemed awfully interested in our passing.  Alas, no one was hurt and he could not give us directions back to the dock.

A great experience and everyone should add an airboat ride to their bucket list.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Planning for Summer 2013

Welcome back to Tronster.net.

The A to Z Challenge is over for 2013.  I had such a great time and enjoyed reading several of the blogs I had not seen before. 

I have been on break for a couple weeks.  We had an extremely busy work week and I was just plain tired afterwards and did not have the opportunity to update the blog.

The challenge concentrated a lot on the adventures of Tronster, and I have decided to stick to that philosophy.  If we get into my thoughts, that could be a long dark trip and professional help maybe required to recover. In that case, I will continue to talk about some of my adventures.

Sunshine and I are planning our summer vacations at this time.  We have so far identified Dollywood, Lake something or another in Canada and the Baseball hall of fame.  I also think one weekend we are going to go Monticello.  Other road trips will include visiting friends and family in South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Survival- Reflections of the 2013 A to Z challenge

This past month has been very good for Tronster.net.  I personally started the challenge last year and missed two days.  This year, I was better prepared.  When I knew I would not be able to get online and update a post I did them in advance.  A great way to complete the challenge.  In addition, I talked about something I have a lot of experience about.  I also began to add more photographs.  There was even one day when I changed the layout on my blog. (Incidentally, I might be changing it again soon)

I also found many blogs to follow.  I have added them to my bookmarks.  I see many great posts on the challenge this year.  Here is a list of a few that I enjoyed.  There are many more, but I haven't got them all posted in my bookmarks yet to share.

Kat In Africa     Adventuring At Home    A Passion and a Passport   Traveling Suitcase

Most of these focused on similar topics as mine.  Traveling.

Even last year's challenge presented me with several that I follow.  This year's list of participants seems longer than last year.  This year I visited a total of 97 blogs. Although, according to the challenge I was suppose to visit closer to 150.  Next year I will continue to try improve seeing more of the blogs on the challenge.

I want to send a shout out to our organizers, Arlee Bird from Tossing it outThe Madlab Post (Nicole Ayers), Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh), Life is Good (Tina Downey), Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons), Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins), The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence), The QQQE (Matthew MacNish), Leave it to Livia (Livia Peterson), No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow), Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp), Spunk on a Stick (L. Diane Wolfe).

These guys and gals have done a great job on hosting and managing the A to Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The Republic of Zambia is a land locked nation in southern Africa.  The capital city  is Lusaka.  I know what your thinking, I can't believe I am learning something new during the A to Z challenge of 2013.  Regardless, my travels to Lusaka included a trip to a near by lodge to have a day at the Safari.

It is about an hours drive outside of the city of Lusaka.  My host was kind enough to drive, considering I do not know my way around the country side.  The cost includes a full day of activities, food and drinks.  I do not drink alcoholic beverages myself.  Its a lifestyle choice I made when I was very young.  My host and friends however, do enjoy and occasional cocktail.  While sitting on the porch of the lodge we place our order.  I receive the same drink as everyone else.  A rum and diet Pepsi.  It was very weak so I had no problem with the drink.  I guess that is what you get with open bar.

This particular lodge kept the dangerous animals in fenced 2 or 3 acre areas.  It was a wildlife preserve.  The lion you see here was waiting for the rest of the pride to bring him lunch as we walked up to the fence.  One of the workers had just thrown a piece of an antelope over the fence.  you not only hear the growls, you can fell them in your bones.

It was an amazing trip.  I was able to go horseback riding through the park and on a jeep safari.  The staff was extremely friendly and hospitable.  We took advantage of the one day option, however, there are cabins to rent and places to sleep.  I think this area is a little less expensive than the big safaris in South Africa.

Other fun facts about the country, the population is about 80% literate.  With all my travels in Africa, this is a high number.  Education is free until the 7th grade.

Well, this is the end of another A to Z Challenge.  I want to thank everyone who stopped by and left comments.  The frequency of the posts will decline, however, Sunshine and I love to explore, so I will continue to make suggestions and other comments.  I have found several new pages for myself to follow.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Yugoslavia was a country started in 1943 at the end of WWII.  The country split up in 1992 after internal ethnic troubles persistant and the area was at war.  I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of locations from the former Yugoslavia.  Zagreb, and Sarajevo.

In 1984 the town of Sarajevo hosted the winter olympics.   On one of my free days, some colleagues and I headed to the Olympic resort.  Located just outside the city, we had to drive up the mountain to enjoy the snow capped mountains.  Since the end of the war, sarajevo has been struggling to get tourist back in their country, so we were heading north to see what there was to offer.  Sarajevo itself was in various stages of rebuilding and during the civil war, was the center of fighting for much of the time.  I believe the city was under siege for a couple of years.

As we pulled into the Olympic village and found us some parking we headed to meet our guide for the day.  Our party consisted of about 9 people.  We had different intrest for the trip.  Some wanted to ski, some wanted to snowboard and some wanted to snowmobile. (Snow machine for you folks in Alaska).  From the top of the mountain, everything looked very peaceful.  For me, this was a new kind of cold.  Really, a new kind of cold.  Our guide explained the snow was about 12 meters deep when we picked up our snow mobiles.  In addition, there was a local news team to cover the tourists that come to visit the city.

I am someone who has never owned a motorcycle.  I grew up in Northeast Florida.  This was my first time on a snowmobile.  And I crashed it.  You will see from the left, several folks assisted me in the recovery.  I think there is some of my pride still sitting on the old mountain.

Overall we had a wonderful time of fun and fellowship.  I was able to see some really cool sites and crash a snowmobile.

The A to Z challenge is coming to an end.  Keep up the blogging even after the challenge.  I have had a great time and look forward to following new people until the next A to Z.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"X"- Xenia Ohio

I have been to a lot of locations, for both work and pleasure.  This is one of the most difficult letters to identify for a place to explore.  I have done it.  You can go to Xenia, Ohio.  I have been there myself.  It dose exist.  It is 21 miles outside of Dayton Ohio. I stayed in Xenia on a work trip to Dayton.  In my spare time I was able to visit the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton.

The Air Force museum if a fantastic place to visit with the family.  If you have any intrest in the history of flight or the Air Force.  Here they will walk you through the early years of flight.  The Wright Brothers were from Ohio, although not Xenia, when they built their airplane.  They went to North Carolina to fly the plane because of the sustained winds.

If front of the museum is the Park, out back they keep several retired airplanes.  There is ample parking and the walk is very pleasant.

Another exhibit in the back is a complete mock up of one of the airfields that defended England during WWII.  There is a tower and several out buildings showing what life was like on the front lines of the air fight keeping the Nazi Germans out of England.

The picture to the left will show you a briefing room for the pilots who were flying from the base.  A large Map, Chairs and a stove pipe heater in the middle of the room.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several planes located in the back of the museum for you to take a look at.  Some from WWII through modern aircraft that have been retired.  In front of each of the planes is the history and the use of the aircraft during its service years.

Xenia is the most populated city in the US that starts with the letter "X".  Its a fun fact.  Comedian Dave Chappelle is from the city of Xenia.  It is a very easy drive from Xenia to the Air Force museum.

So friends, keep exploring and enjoy the A to Z Challenge.  We only have a couple of days left.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"W"- Wall.... The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China.  They began construction as early as the 7th century BC.  Most of the wall was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty.

 It started off as a series of walls to protect China from nomads and raiders.  It was later connected to form the Great Wall.  Some surveys using modern methods, have estimated the wall to be about 13,171 miles long.  This distance includes some natural protectors such as cliffs and lakes.

I visited the Great Wall while working in Beijing during the weeks leading to the Olympics.  We took a short drive to the wall.  It kills me that I cannot recall the exact section I visited.  I suggest for your travel junkies to start keeping a journal when you travel.  So when you look back, you can recall the great times.

There are your typical tourist stuff at the wall, you can have you picture taken with people in costume and at different sections of the wall.  Each of the "actors" request a little money to pose with you. It isn't very expensive and probably less so when the olympics are not in session.

Several sections of the wall are very steep.  We took a ski-lift from the base of the mountain to the top.  We got a good workout walking between a couple of the watch towers.  Most of the wall is not rebuilt.  But several sections have been restored to allow tourist to check them out.  Our decent was in a bob-sled.  You had a break and road down the hill.  My friends and I had a great time at the wall seeing such a magnificent piece of construction.  Realizing how old it was and how much they have restored (which isn't very much) was also very interesting.  Our day on the hill was clear and warm.

Beijing has a lot to offer for you to see. If you are already in China, you should make the trip out to the Wall.

The A to Z is almost done.  Keep up the good work and come back and visit anytime.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"V" - Vacation

While I was growing up, we never took real vacations.  We would go and visit my grandparents and one time, my grandparents took my Disney as a kid.  However, we never went far from home.  When I started working, I never really took vacations other than to visit family.  Because that is what I know from growing up.  However, once I met Sunshine, all that changes.  We have taken a major vacation every year since we were married. (Once before)  Now we look for opportunities for vacations.

So I wanted to share a few idea with you all for vacation suggestions.

Disney is always fun, for kids of all ages.  It is important to realize, that the Disney corporations is proud of everything they offer.  However, the customer service is excellant.  They will take care of you.  They also offer many options.  Shop around.

Plan a weekend away from home, and drive a couple hours and get a hotel room.  Call it a Road Trip Weekend.  We like will drive about 5 hours to hit a weekend trip.  Three day weekends are easy for time off from a government job, but usually the tourist sites are also busy.  So take a Monday some time and extend a weekend.

So let me tell you some of our weekend trips.  Niagara Falls, Toronto (NHL Hall of Fame), Baltimore for a baseball game and a tour of the old city.  If you are in the Midwest, there are a huge amount of national parks and state parks to visit.  Mount Rushmore was one of my favorite stops, so was the Bison sighting.

If you are close to a beach, an early or late season trip to the beach could be just the thing for a vacation.

The Challenge is moving forward and we are almost to the finish line.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"U"-Union Station Washington DC

Ok Fans, it looks like I am getting back on schedule.  I hope you enjoy this little story.  As my job has allowed me to travel a lot, I really miss my sunshine.  Although I fly most of the time, I have been known to drive to the work city.  Well, I can't ask sunshine to do the same, and short flights are just not worth the money anymore. (Or the time)  So we take the train.  From DC, you have Union Station.

Union Station opened in 1907.  When the three major railroads operated in the area had their own stations.  It is a great place to visit while you are in DC.  Now there are several passenger trains serviced through there and many bus companies as well.

Outside Union Station there is a replica of the Liberty Bell.  I did not know that until I saw it myself.  I have been to see the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (with Sunshine) and that was really great.

On a side note, I was watching Sentinel  the movie, yesterday after work.  There were several scenes from different places in washington.  Things have changed since they made that movie, but inside union station was close to the same.  A truly historic site that is a great visit even if for only a few minutes while you are in town.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"T" - Thailand

Oh my, Oh my.  This challenge is going by fast.  I have been late on my daily posts because of a slight technical difficulty.  Have no fear, I have another great and exciting place to talk about.  This time it is in Thailand.

My visit to Thailand included a layover for two days in Bangkok, but many people visit that city, I was in Chiang Mai.  The city is not as big as Bangkok, but a very busy city.  It is the largest city in the northern part of the country.  They host an annual water party, where everyone gets wet.  According to WIKIPEDIA, 4 or 5 million or so tourist visit the city every year.  news to me.  Regardless, about 15 km outside of the city is the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.  Its a temple located on top of mountain by the same name. 
To get to the temple, you have to climb 309 steps from the parking area. If you get a stop right next to the steps.  Not likely.  Once you reach top, even if you are not a Buddhist, you can appreciate the beauty of the temple.  As an evangelical Christian, I was a little uncomfortable visiting on Easter, however, it was my only day off on the trip.  The site requests that you dress appropriately fo r the temple.  If you are in shorts or something, they can provide you with a wrap so you can look like a monk when entering the holy places.

I had a really great time in the city.  I also saw a traffic jam because of an elephant.  That was pretty cool.  Every night the street my hotel was on, turned into a market. You could buy anything from knives to sheets on that street.  

Keep up the exploring friends.  We will see you tomorrow.

Monday, April 22, 2013


The challenge moves forward.  I had plan for another location.  However, I cannot find my pictures from the place, so you will have to wait.  I thought I would share something that has thwarted at least one road trip for Sunshine and I.  Snow!!

Living in Northern Virginia, we do not get much snow.  We get a dusting here and there, but this was more than we were accustom to receiving.  This storm was predicted.  We were not surprised.  With the exception of the actual snow fall amount, we knew it was coming.

There were no snow plows on the way to clear the roads.  It was going to take a while to get out of this one.

Believe it or not, there is a driveway under all that snow.  It was very pretty until all the ATVs got out.  This was on a weekday and the federal government was closed.  Along with 90% of the rest of the area.  So Sunshine and I took a walk down the street and just enjoyed the view.  Not o mention a got a good workout clearing most of the driveway.

Many of you may be located in areas where snow is a common event.  It really is fun in the DC area.  Too see what schools cancel and how bad our weather guessers (I think they call themselves meteorologists everywhere else).

The first time it snowed while I lived in this location, the only tool I had to clear the driveway was a couple of dust pans.  I would have left it alone, but we were out of town when the snow came, and I had to clear the driveway so we could park in the garage.

Have a great day and keep blogging.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


One of our trips took us to Italy.  Being that close to Rome, we had to make a stop there.  What a city.  The historic markers and buildings are everywhere.  Any construction project has to have someone there looking for history.  They were working on the subway when I was there a few years ago and it was slow process, because they keep finding artifacts.

They path Sunshine and I took to get to Rome was from a Cruise.  We loaded the ship in Barcelona, and Rome was our third stop.  You do not actually dock in Rome, but Civitavecchia Italy.  It is about an hour bus ride from Rome.  If you decide you want to take a tour of Rome from a cruise.  You will have a choice to make.  You an either take a tour of the city, or of the Vatican.  I would suggest take the tour of Rome.  You will see much much more.  What I learned from the cruise was that every cruise line pulls into the area on the same day, and a trip through the Vatican is very crowded.  I must admit, if you think you will never be that close to the Vatican again, take the tour.  Just realize, you will not be alone.

I have visited Rome a few times.  Each time I have seen something different.  The squares and the parks are great.  For those of you who live in Rome and southern Europe, it might be easier than those of us who live on this side of the pond.

I believe Sunshine would like to visit again to see some of the other sites.  I cannot blame her, it is a great city with so much to see.

Okay bloggers from the A to Z Challenge,  We have just over a week left, keep up the good work.

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Q"- Queen

This was a difficult letter for me on this challenge.  I have not been to a place with a "Q" start.  I know they exist.  There is Queensland, Quebec, Qatar, and I am sure a few I have missed.

I could have talked about "Quick Trips".  Places close to home that Sunshine and I have gone too.  There is Great Falls, Mt Vernon, The Smithsonian, and many other locations.  I must say I will skip the places with "Q" names.

Although I have never been in the presence of the Queen of any country, although Sunshine is the Queen of my heart. I have seen the princess of Thailand once.

No, I am going to talk about a "Quick Trip" we took when we were in Ft Lauderdale FL.

It was on the Jungle Queen IV.  basically it is a dinner cruise through the waterways of Ft Lauderdale.  They take a route and share some information about the city and the homes you may pass by when you cruising.  Sunshine and I had such a great time.  The serve a dinner, which is okay at best, but the environment is fun. They claim the island they are taking you too are isolated and loaded with exotic animals.  We saw some birds and a few others.  Then there is show after dinner and then they drive you back to the pier.

A great time was had by most of the people of the little boat.

Keep Exploring

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"P"- Parade

Good Morning Bloggers,

Todays letter will be "P", and all though I have visited a few places which begin with the letter "P" I wanted to spice it up a little bit.  Those who have been following this blog through the month of April know that I love to travel. To some far off lands, and some that are not so far off.  One of the activities you can always participate in is Parade Watching.

 On our recent to Greece, they were celebrating their Independence Day.  The Greeks put on a great parade showing their First responders along with many other units in the military.  The people who attended the parade seemed to have a real good time.  The units that marched in the parade were regular military units.  They did not seem to have the performance down for the marching.  They marching bands from the military as well.  Unlike the parades you see in the united states, there were no floats.

The picture to the right is from one of the three Cherry Blossom parades I have attended.  These parades have many different sponsors.  In addition to community groups, floats, and performance marching groups, we also have high schools that get to march in a lot of our parades  The colors and the people are always fun.  Normally the Cherry Blossom Parade day is more pleasant than the Fourth of July Parade.  In our fine city, there are many parades throughout the year.  Two days ago there was a parede in Washington DC, however, I had to work. (So did Sunshine)

When we travel to the Disney parks, it is always fun to catch their parades.  They have professional dancers and singers, and you can normally good a seat along main-street.  During the summer, the Parade is pretty late.  I have not seen the Parade of Lights in the fall or winter. I think that would be really cool.

Some advice for you before going to a parade.  Do your homework and know the route.  Also when it will start. Then try to find a good place and get there early.  Know the time when the parade will start and carry some water with you.  Especially for the July parades.

Keep on Exploring!