kevin_standlee: (FinnCon)
Today was the longest day. We got up about 7:30 AM on Thursday, August 3 in Millbrae and I'm going to bed in Hamburg around 7:30 PM on Friday, August 4 (about 10:30 AM Pacific Time) with no intervening sleep. But while there were negatives (like not getting any sleep), it was otherwise a pretty good trip, and we're now safely in Hamburg for our "flying visit."

SFO Security Theatre )

The Alaska flight up to PDX was no fun at all. Fully loaded, and I was in the middle seat. But it was less than two hours, and the flight was on time. As we came in, the flight attendant made an announcement for those of us going on the Reykjavik on IcelandAir, noting that there were 17 of us on the plane. As it happens, I only recognized two others besides me who were going to Worldcon: Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz, who we spoke to briefly in the departure lounge at PDX before the flight boarded.

Upgrade Jackpot )

We landed in Iceland, where we found that the airport is under significant construction, but fortunately, it wasn't raining.

Upgrade Part Two )

While on this last leg of the flight I could have possibly slept, I decided that it would be a bad idea to do so if I wanted to get onto the correct time zone, so I drank coffee to stay awake into Hamburg. We landed at Hamburg and spent a while trying to find a working DB ATM (because they are partners with Bank of America and thus I wouldn't be hit with an extra fee). We got it eventually and unlike the Barcelona trip, the ATM processed the request with no incident. That is good, because as we found, cash is still king here in Germany. Also, my credit card is US-style and doesn't have a PIN, which makes it impossible to use on automated terminals like at the train stations. I was worried that we'd dawdled on our errands, but as it happens, luggage was just starting to roll out when we got to baggage claim. We picked up our bags and cleared customs (a single bored-looking guard), then found our way to the train station.

Training into Hamburg )

When we checked in to the Holiday Inn Express Hamburg, we had a surprise.

That New Hotel Smell )

After getting moved in, doing some unpacking, and confirming that I could raise the wi-fi on my phone and computer, we set out to find some dinner. We knew that we needed to stay awake until early evening in order to have a chance to stave off jet-lag. We headed off a different way than we came, and almost got caught in a rain shower, but fortunately Lisa spotted a model train store, where we popped in until the rain cleared. Unlike Tokyo and Osaka in 2007, where we had to buy an extra piece of luggage to carry all of the gear she bought at the Kato Model Trains factory outlet stores, Lisa restrained herself to a single car: I nice N scale fire truck.

Something Fishy This Way Comes )

It was after 7 PM local time when we got back to the hotel. Lisa got ready for bed as soon as she could. Once I get this posted (which hasn't been proofread well, so I may end up having to make a lot of edits later), I'm going to bed as well. Tomorrow, the included breakfast runs until 11 AM, which is a great thing because it means we don't have to be up early to get fed. We have one day of looking around more of Hamburg before we head for Lübeck and Travemünde.

I'm very tired, but happy to be here.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Today's plan was to get away early and hit many places where we wanted to buy things tax free on our way home, then push on to Klamath Falls, Oregon where we had a hotel reservation at the Holiday Inn Express there.

It Didn't Work Out That Way )

Although we ended up in Bend instead of Klamath Falls, this turned out to actually be a stroke of luck.

Unexpected Invitation )

We've vowed to sleep in a little bit tomorrow morning even if we miss the included HIX breakfast, because we still have more than 400 miles to go to get home, and I have to work on Thursday, so we both have to get some rest. Ideally, we would have taken two nights to go home just like we did to go out, but I couldn't take any more days off at this point and thus we have to make the best of it. Still, we only have one more stop on the Tax Free Tour of Oregon left, and we'll do that in Klamath Falls tomorrow.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Today we had intended to go down to Silver Springs for the Lyon County Fly-In aviation event at the Silver Springs airport, but heavy rains and flooding Saturday night canceled the vendors and many of the events, so instead (since we needed to do our heavy grocery shopping anyway) we drove into Reno to see the National Automobile Museum, also known as "The Harrah Collection" inasmuch as it is built from the core of the late Bill Harrah's (of Harrah's casino entertainment group) huge collection of vehicles. Harrah's collection (apparently as many as 1,400 cars) was at one time housed in a building in Sparks, and Lisa and I went and visited it there years ago. Harrah had made no provision for the care of his collection after his death, and when he died most of the vehicles were sold, although 147 were saved for the 501(c)(3) museum formed after his death. The museum is just south of the Truckee River in downtown Reno. (If you'd been at Renovation and wanted to see it, it would have been a short bus ride on the express buses that run along Virginia Street.)

A Drive Through the Past )

There are more photos than what I show here; click through to see the rest of them.

We spent a fair bit of the day at the museum. I'd allow at least one hour per gallery if you like reading the displays. Also note that aside from a single vending machine, there is no food and drink available at the museum. By the time we were done, I was pretty tired and my legs hurt. It might have worked a bit better to be there at opening, look at a couple of galleries, walk across the river to downtown Reno for lunch, then come back for the rest of the afternoon.

In our case, after our day at the museum, we drove down to the Atlantis and had a late lunch/early dinner at Cafe Alfresco, where luck was really with me on the keno, and even after using some winnings to buy five more games of keno and tipping the keno runner, I still had $3.50 more than I started. Lisa also had good luck initially with the slots, but it did catch up with us later.

We did not forget to do the actual errand for which we came to Reno, and made our trip to Winco to stock up on groceries before heading home. Our timing was good; we avoided the thunderstorms that have been moving through the area, and they didn't hit us until after we got the groceries in.
kevin_standlee: (To Trains)
Many of my friends are spending this weekend at Con-Volution in the Bay Area, but Lisa and I attended a railroad convention instead. We spent all day today in Carson City at the first ever SilverRail Railroad Photography Exhibition. This amounted to a one-day railroad fan convention with maybe as many as 50 people attending, with dealers in the lobby of the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall (a converted church), and the programming being a series of presentations on various rail-related subjects. For example, there was a presentation about the last days of electrified freight operations in Marysville-Yuba City on the Sacramento Northern. (The wires came down a few months before I was born in 1965.) There was another about the obscure Mina Subdivision of the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) Railroad, which branches off the mainline at Hazen, ten miles east of Fernley.

Full Day in Carson City )

This was the first SilverRail fair, but I hope it will not be the last.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Back in the 1980s in Los Alamos, long before Lisa and I met at the 1990 Westercon in Portland, Lisa shared a house for a few years with a friend. They hadn't seen each other in years, but the friend (Elizabeth by name) had moved to northern Idaho, north of Moscow, and we were fortunate to get messages back and forth just in time for us to redo our travel plans from Lewiston to let Lisa go and visit with Elizabeth for several hours.

But First, Let's Go To Moscow )

We spent three hours visiting with Lisa's friend, and Lisa came away feeling very happy about the whole thing. Even better was the discovery that Elizabeth still had the Asteroids video game (the arcade model) that Lisa had bought all those years ago and stored with Elizabeth. The machine made the move to Idaho and was stored in the garage. If we can manage to rent a U-Haul trailer and redo our travel plans, on the way back from Worldcon, we'll come by again and see if we can wrestle the console out of the garage and into the trailer. We have enough space in Fernley House to house the game console in our family room, assuming it still works and the mice haven't gotten to it.

On to Spokane )

So many of the Ususal Suspects are already here, and the Move-In process was well underway by the time we arrived in Spokane around 6:30 this evening. Tomorrow the move-in should complete, and we'll finish assembling our five-day village of Fandom.

August 2017

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