kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was an unstructured day exploring Reykjavik. We had no idea what we would find.

Surprising Ourselves )

After our morning and early afternoon exploration, we got back on the bus. Joining us at that point were a German family heading back to the cruise ship we had seen earlier in the day. Lisa hit it off with them right away. We rode back to Hallgrímskirkja, bade the Germans bon voyage, and went back to the hotel for a break and a cup of tea for me and hot chocolate for Lisa in the hotel common room before making another walk downtown to explore more.

To the Center of Reykjavik )

Thanks to that huge lunch, Lisa and I were still not terribly hungry come 21:00, so we once again picked up some sandwich stuff and cold drinks (alas for no refrigerator in which to keep them; everything has to be eaten when purchased) for another "picnic dinner" in the hotel room.

Tomorrow is our big excursion: our "Golden Circle" tour, one of the must-not-miss parts of a trip to Iceland, or so everyone says. Fortunately we don't have to be up at the crack of dawn, especially given how early dawn is here at 66° North.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
On Friday, I actually did have a few hours of "spare" time after the Business Meeting, so after I changed out of my suit into my San Jose shirt and Lisa put away the recording gear, we went down and joined Linda Deneroff, then took the train downtown and had lunch because the food court restaurants had queues out the doors.

What's That? Smells Like Fish! )

While I was writing up Business Meeting summaries and getting ready for the Hugo Awards, Lisa took the tram down to the S-Market and the hardware store we found the other day and did some more hardware and grocery shopping for us. The minibar fridge is small, so we can't buy very far ahead.
kevin_standlee: (Atomic Vegas)
As I mentioned in passing last night, our first hotel was very unsuitable. The Candlewood Suites room was comparable to an Extended StayAmerica low-end room, but the way it was laid out would have made it very difficult for me to get any work done, and Lisa said she might have to take some blankets and towels and sleep in the closet. So we asked the hotel to let us balk (which, thank goodness, they did), and we reviewed our options.

Checking the IHG app on my phone, I found a Staybridge Suites over on the other side of I-15, with a Holiday Inn Express next door. Rather than booking, we just drove over there, and the manager very nicely took us upstairs to show us a room.

The Kind of Room I'd Love to Have at a Worldcon )

On top of all of the space and amenities, this room cost less than the Candlewood. We said, "We'll take it," and checked in for three nights. We then tossed our hand luggage into the room and had dinner — on Monday-Wednesday nights, they have a "social hour" with food, in this case hot dogs, hamburgers, and chili. They have a cooked breakfast every morning, although unfortunately you can't take it back to your room, which is what we'd really rather do. Still, that's a minor quibble.

Kuma Bear Takes Charge )

After we got moved in, I got my computers working (no wired internet, but the wireless connection worked okay and didn't suffer from the flakiness that plagued me in Tempe) and then we drove over to get some groceries from Whole Foods Market.

Of course you're unlikely to ever find a hotel like this within easy walking distance of a Worldcon-class convention facility, and if you did, it wouldn't come for the relative bargain price ($109/night before tax but including breakfast). But it's a really nice place. It's not as over-the-top luxurious as the Bellagio-Pallazo, but it also comes with a lot more services that we actually use, like the kitchen and the in-room laundry. We had lunch this afternoon from the groceries we had (and those we'd brought with us from Fernley — we were prepared for having to eat many meals in the hotel room there, although in fact we did not do so), and Lisa did a couple of loads of laundry. (Soap is $3/box, good for two loads, from the shop in the lobby.)

We generally don't come to Vegas for long periods of time, but if we did, this would be high on our list of likely places to stay. As Lisa put it, if you're coming to Vegas for one or two nights and want a high-end experience, stay at a place like the Bellagio. If you want a place that you can use as a very comfortable home base for a few days or a few weeks, the Staybridge Suites is for you.
kevin_standlee: (Confusion Ahead)
Today turned out to be longer driving both in time and distance than planned, but it worked out in the end. We'd initially planned to grab some breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks and get on the road, but all of the stores the Starbucks app showed near us in either Laughlin or across the river in Bullhead City were kiosks in casinos or grocery stores and didn't have the full selection of stuff. With no 'fridge in our room, we couldn't stock our own supplies, so we had breakfast at the Claim Jumper in the Golden Nugget. This was nice enough (the waterfall next to the restaurant was nice), but cost us time. In retrospect, we should have checked: there was a Black Bear Diner in Bullhead City, and we probably would have had a better breakfast there, besides being able to collect a new passport stamp.

After breakfast, we set off across the river and through Bullhead City and what did we find? A standalone Starbucks! We stopped there anyway because it was adjacent to Lowe's and Lisa wanted a couple of things from there. We went into the Starbucks for me to get a coffee for the road. It turns out that the full store (the only one in the area) had only opened yesterday.

Next, on a whim we took a side road that took us partway up the hills onto the Oatman Highway, an early segment of old US-66 and one of the first ones ever cut off when they started cleaning up the road. We didn't go all the way up to Oatman, but even the part we drove seemed a bit hairy to me, with lots of twists and turns. Eventually we ended up down on I-40 for a short segment before we ducked off onto the road for Lake Havasu City.

Welcome to London (Bridge) )

There was a custom t-shirt shop in the English Village from which Lisa commissioned a shirt. The guy said it would take him about an hour, so we drove up to have fish and chips — at the Lake Havasu City Black Bear diner, filling #23 in our passport book.

Bear Has All He Can Eat in the Heat )

After lunch, I dropped a London Bridge postcard into the mail for Kelli at the nearby post office and we headed back to the bridge. Originally we were going to walk across the bridge, but the heat was too much for us, so we simply drove across to the island and back, just to say that we'd done so. We then returned to the Village, collected Lisa's shirt, and left for Tempe.

The heat was sufficiently intense and the minivan old enough that we couldn't run the air conditioning at full (or sometimes at all) when climbing hills or when otherwise working the engine hard. Lisa was driving and kept an eye on the temperature, letting me know when to turn the AC on or off.

Any Shade is Welcome )

At Quartsite we joined eastbound I-10. Lisa kept our speed down in order to spare enough power to run the air conditioning. She drove most of the day, except for a short period when she needed a break and had me drive. We made a final driver change at a familiar-sounding place.

Driving in Circles )

Lisa drove us into Phoenix. By now, it was around 7:30 PM. Arizona doesn't observe daylight savings time, and that's a good thing as far as we are concerned. The worst of the Getaway Day rush hour was gone, and we faced no slowdowns across Phoenix, arriving at the Mission Palms Hotel in Tempe around 8 PM or so. Arriving this early meant we were able to obtain one of the relatively few hotel self-parking spaces. We don't plan to move the van again until we leave on Tuesday. We also could move our things into the hotel in the dark. It was 37°C this evening, warmer than the high temperatures back in Fernley, but again, tolerable out of the direct sun. After getting our personal bags into the hotel, we walked to the CVS store a few blocks away and got some yogurt, milk, and cereal, as this hotel room has a mini-fridge. Finally, we borrowed a bell cart and moved a large load of stuff from the van into the hotel room. There's still more stuff out there, but we won't need it until we do Match Game SF on Monday night.

Fortunately, we have no early commitments to Westercon on Saturday, the first day of the convention. We picked up our membership badges this evening, but could find nothing else going on when we came back from CVS. Tomorrow I have nothing before 1 PM. I think I will not set an alarm for Saturday morning.
kevin_standlee: Kevin in kakhi shirt, Jacaru hat, and sunglasses (Sheriff Kevin)
After what seemed like innumerable delays, we managed to get away from Fernley about 2:30 PM and set out for Tonopah. This is the shortest of the three legs of the trip, being merely 200 miles; however, if we didn't stop in Tonopah, our next realistic stop would be in Beatty, another 100 miles south of here. That seems unwise, given that we didn't know how soon I could get off work today; besides, we've stayed at the Tonopah Station Hotel before, and because it was the headquarters hotel of our Tonopah Westercon bid, we have a soft spot for it.

Bear Approves of Our Hotel Choice )

The hotel will win no luxury awards, and unfortunately nearly all of the rooms require negotiating stairs, but it's affordable, and there's a grocery store next door. Since our room has a refrigerator, we got some yogurt to have for breakfast tomorrow. After dinner in the restaurant, we walked around the hotel grounds and surrounding areas. In contrast to the heat of Fernley and the even more heat we'll be suffering in Las Vegas and Tempe, it was quite temperate and comfortable. Had we really won that bid, the small number of people who actually might have made the trek to Tonopah would have, I think, enjoyed the mild summer evenings.

My computer connected to the hotel wi-fi eventually, although it's not especially fast, and I'm glad that I don't have to get any real work done here. Still, when we check out tomorrow morning, we'll probably make a reservation for stopping here a week from Saturday on the way home.

Tomorrow is the longest leg of the trip (300 miles to Laughlin), and we have errands to run in Las Vegas to boot.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
We had to go into Reno/Sparks for two different reasons today, one personal and one business related. First was a doctor's visit. Kuma Bear very much liked the fish tank in the doctor's waiting room.

Bears Watching Fishes Watching Bears )

Despite much grousing, Kuma appears none the worse (and in fact somewhat better) for having had his annual bath.

After the doctor visit, I had some business at an XPO office in Sparks about which I will write more in a separate entry. With the Day Jobbe stuff out of the way, we went to lunch at the Sparks Nugget (which is being all torn up inside, including what may be a total refit of their convention space), then got our last "in town" grocery shopping trip before the Westercon trip done. We were happy to head home.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
I realized yesterday that the plan for Lisa and me to convoy to Sparks to drop off the minivan for the brake work on Monday conflicted with an eye exam I have scheduled on Monday afternoon. So instead we did it this morning. It means they have it all day Monday even if they don't have time to work on it, but that's not a problem. I drove the Rolling Stone and Lisa followed me into Sparks.

After that, we went to the Peppermill buffet to celebrate Kuma Bear's 27th birthday (which was yesterday). I cashed all of our accumulated comps to pay for half of the cost of brunch. Saturday brunch is less expensive and over-the-top than Sunday, but there's not a whole lot on the Sunday menu in addition to Saturday that we'd want to eat anyway.

Brunch Bear )

After eating, we waddled around the Peppermill as is our wont, contemplating what sort of SF convention we could organize in the convention's space. We think the key issue is what does the Peppermill think about SF genre convention hospitality functions (i.e. room parties). If that is something we could manage, then the Peppermill's function space looks to me like we could run a fairly compact convention in the Westercon-sized range. No, we're not bidding for anything; it's just hard for us to be in convention space without thinking about planning events.

After we got home, we walked down to the fire station, where they were having a small open house, but it was nearly over when we got there, so we moved on and picked up our mail at the post office and came home, where a lie down from the huge meal this morning seems in order. No more meals are needed tonight. I'm just glad my blood sugar reading came in under 200.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
On Friday evening, when I decided to not drive to Yuba City that night but instead go down early the next day, Lisa reminded me that we'd been meaning to try the (relatively) new Flame Grill restaurant over near Scolari's grocery store here in Fernley. Every time we've passed them, we've seen their sign advertising "Friday Fish Fest" and thinking it would be nice to try it.

Well, the Flame Grill is a bar-grill, and Lisa said it smelled too much of beer. Furthermore, it turns out that the "Friday Fish Fest" is simply the fish and chips from their regular menu. So we balked and went to the Black Bear Diner instead. They used to have an all-you-can-eat fish fry on Fridays, but I think we contributed toward them giving up on that.

The Black Bear had a nice salmon dish that Lisa liked ([livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma got to have all the fish he could eat). I opted for their Friday prime rib special, which I thought was pretty good, too. We then took advantage of a free-play coupon for the adjoining Fernley Nugget casino, and ended up $2.50 ahead. That's nice, but not as nice as what happened to the person who we heard whooping and hollering as we were finishing dinner. As I went up to redeem the $10 free-play coupon, there was much excitement behind the counter as they were drawing up the paperwork for a Big Win (which is to say anything that requires them to issue an IRS Form W2-G proceeds from gambling). Someone had hit a $2000 jackpot.

We took our $2.50 and went home. I had to get to bed in order to be up at 5 AM the next morning for the trip to Yuba City about which I've already written.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Because we called off the originally planned trip to the Bay Area by train today (it's just as well; the train was three hours late), we instead went and did a fair bit of shopping. [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma and I got to hang around a bit.

Hanging Out With Kuma Bear )

By the time we finished all of the grocery shopping, we were getting hungry, so we went to the Sparks Nugget and had a very late lunch or early dinner at the Oyster Bar. The food is as good as usual there. How well the resort is doing overall is another story. They're doing a big renovation. It sort of looks like the Gilley's "cowboy" nightclub they put into the space where Trader Dick's Polynesian restaurant used to be is closed down. Whether that's permanent or not, I haven't heard. Not that I was ever going to go to Gilley's. I wouldn't ride the mechanical bull even before I hurt my back a few years ago playing "whirlyball" at a company outing in Chicago, and the music there was both too loud and not to my taste. The Nugget just hasn't been the same since the Ascuagas sold it (and then the new owners resold it not long thereafter). But we'll keep going back to the Oyster Bar as long as it's there.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
[livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma is now migrated to Dreamwidth, with the same user ID. Posts there are now set up to automatically cross-post to his LJ. New posts should be at Dreamwidth.

I will soon pull the trigger on migrating my own LJ. I'll post here on LJ before I do so, because based on the DW backlog, I'll probably be offline for several days while DW tries to digest my journal.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
Sunday afternoon, we decided to go ahead and make a second trip to Reno, this time with the insulated cool-bag so we could buy good cheese and other perishables. The deciding factor was that Cost Plus World Market was running a one-day sale on many thing we would normally get.

Bears Knows Whats He Wants )

We seem to be spending more time at home and, this past weekend notwithstanding, making fewer trips to Reno/Sparks of late. That may just have been an effect of the winter weather, but it also shows how much we have come to like our house.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
This morning Lisa and I drove into Reno bright and early to get our shopping errands done.

High Water in the Truckee )

Our first stop was the Atlantis Hotel-Casino, where I cashed in the ticket for my bet on the Australian Open.

Not a Job I Would Want )

Collecting my winnings for betting on Roger Federer to win the Australian Open, we decided to spend them on brunch at Toucan Charlie's, and were in fact the first customers at the counter when they opened. (This is the source of today's post title; thank you, Roger!) I enjoyed the breakfast, but the buffets have stopped agreeing with Lisa. There are just too many things in the food, particularly food dyes and additives to which she's sensitive, that make her ill.

We did manage to complete the rest of our shopping and got home just after 1 PM. Lisa, who has mostly been up nights the past week or so, went to bed along with [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma while I started doing my laundry and packing the RV.

In the most recent storm, all of the trans-Sierra routes have been hammered and closed at various points, including US-50 (rockslides), CA-70 (flooding), and most importantly, I-80 (major mudslide). The only alternative was a detour from I-80 onto CA-20 to Grass Valley, then CA-49 to Auburn. This would work, but was likely to be slow and crowded as a major freeway was being funneled into a two-lane mountain highway. To my relief, this evening Caltrans announced that they'd managed to clear the mudslide and that all lanes are now open again. I'm off to the Bay Area in the morning.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
Although I'm not going to the SF Bay Area this coming week, I did have a pressing non-emergency-but-important need to visit my mother in Yuba County before the end of January. Looking at the weather this weekend and next, I decided that this would be the better of the two weekends to attempt it because the weather was clear for Saturday and Sunday. Although initially I thought I'd get up very early and make the down-and-back journey, after discussing it with Lisa we decided to drive down today and back tomorrow, and this also allowed us to go pay a visit with my sister in Sacramento without being rushed.

Fernley to Marysville via Sacramento )

The trip over Donner Summit was thankfully uneventful. Caltrans crews have done a great job clearing the road. As we worked our way up to the summit, a snowblower truck was cutting back the banks, throwing snow in a high arc away from the road. It was not as spectacular as the rotary plows the railroad uses, but it was still a good show.

Between the two storms we had in Fernley (with an intervening rain that melted all of the first storm's snow), we had around 30 cm of snow in Fernley. Up at Donner Summit, it looked like there was more than 300 cm (3 meters, around 10 feet) of snow on the ground. There was a lot of mist at the summit itself, but Lisa could see a lot of people on the ski slopes. This must be the sort of conditions the ski operators were praying for: plenty of snow with four days of good weather centered on the weekend.

Visiting my Sister )

Lisa drove for a while after we left the nursing facility and I called my mother to confirm that I'll be coming up to Dobbins in the Yuba County foothills tomorrow. We then changed drivers again at the Fry's in Sacramento and I drove us to Marysville. We used to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Yuba City, but it's now a Best Western, giving me no incentive to stay there, and it made more sense logistically anyway for us to stay at the Comfort Suites in Marysville. Lisa was grateful for a full-size bathtub, and since the drought is nominally over, she also didn't feel guilty about using that nice tub in the hotel room. Conveniently, there was a Pizza Hut a block down the street, too, making dinner plans easy.

My initial plan had actually been to come down (without the side trip to Sacramento) and stay in Grass Valley, but for some unaccountable reason, it seems like every hotel room in Grass Valley/Nevada City this weekend is booked. I am unsure what's going on up there; however, I'm just as happy to do the circle trip via Sacramento so we could see Kelli. And while I'm capable of doing the down-and-back trips (it's about the same distance and time as the one-way trip to the Bay Area), I'd rather not do so if I don't have to do it.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
As Lisa didn't plan on making dinner until relatively late today, I went down to the Wigwam for breakfast (yes, they were open), and thanks to a bit of luck and a "$15 bonus for any win of $15 or more" coupon, managed to win $22 net (after burning off the $15 free play after the original win), paying for breakfast and part of yesterday's as well.

A little while after I walked home, Lisa came in with [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma, who she said was very impatient with us.

Opens Thems Ups, Alreadys! )

After we opened Kuma's first present (a metal "Pure Local Honey" sign), Bear gave Lisa a present.

Lisa Reacts to Bear's Present )

After Lisa recovered from her present, we opened the rest of them.

The Final Talley )

No duck on offer this Christmas, as the local store ran out before we went to buy one, but we got a nice ham from Whole Foods Market that is now baking in the oven, as we prepare for our little holiday feast. Lisa says this is one of the nicest Christmases she can remember.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley House)
Now that we have a full sized house (as opposed to a little travel trailer or small apartment), we could put up a full sized Christmas tree if we wanted to do so; however, Lisa prefers to get a small living tree. We have even managed to keep one alive for a second year. This year, we left the little tree outside and will take it back outside after the holiday, then re-pot it into a larger pot as soon as possible.

Trees, Trains, and Gifts Sort of Under the Tree )

Lisa and were up much too early for a holiday. (I have both Friday and Monday off.) Actually, I think Lisa hadn't really slept much last night. We made a virtue of necessity and drove into Reno to deal with the last pre-holiday shopping. We first went to the Peppermill and had a non-weekend breakfast, using up most of the last of a gift card I'd received. We then dealt with the last of the shopping, by which time time was catching up to Lisa and we headed home, where she fell into bed and I took the rest of the day off. I'm quite glad not to be doing extensive travel at this time of the year, although I do continue to go out and wave to Amtrak when they go by. If I did have to travel, that would be the way I'd prefer to do it.
kevin_standlee: (Camera Kuma)
[Back-dated because of the LJ outage Thursday evening.]

On Thursday late afternoon, with Day Jobbe done for the long four-day holiday weekend, Lisa left [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma with me and went off to do some holiday shopping on her own.

That's a Wrap )

Kuma Bear wanted to be helpful, so we wrapped Christmas presents. It only took twice as long with Bear getting tangled up in wrapping paper and tape. Still, I should be grateful that he's not as enthusiastic as the panda at the Toronto Zoo was when he found a snowman in his compound.

Panda Versus Snowman: Fight! )
kevin_standlee: (Fernley House)
Since my grandfather passed away some years ago, and with my sister essentially permanently disabled and confined to a nursing home, my family has stopped gathering for Thanksgiving. Thus Lisa and I have been having what we now consider our traditional meal on Thanksgiving.

Long Time Readers Will Have Seen This Before )

After setting the dishes to clean in the dishwasher, a long walk was indicated before we could eat the pumpkin pie that Lisa had baked. While we'd been eating, we heard booming sounds that had me asking, "Who's jumping on our roof?" It turned out that our neighbors, who are regular attendees of Burning Man, had invited many friends, and had set up a Flame Turkey (a metal sculpture of a turkey with flames fed by a small propane tank), and the booming we were hearing was a propane cannon built into the thing. We walked by and they set it off a couple of times. I would have taken pictures, but I don't think my camera phone would have resolved it properly in the dark.

Today the weather has dawned bright and sunny, but cold. I wish this was Sunday's weather! The latest forecast suggests that if Caltrans can work their usual magic over the summit that I may be able to sneak through mid-day on Sunday, but if not, I may not be able to get to the Bay Area until Tuesday night. I keep checking the forecast and re-evaluating my plans accordingly.

In general, we had no plans for engaging in Mass Consumerism Friday; however, Big R down the road is doing a one-day sale that would include a number of things we've been considering getting anyway, so we'll probably break down and go have a look.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
Today was, relatively speaking, the least-scheduled of our five days of Worldcon. After the CanSMOF Board Meeting, I came back to the room, and instead of my WSFS Captain's uniform, got into my Colonel Chinstrap outfit, and Lisa and [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma (Lt. Hayes and Pvt. Bear) and I set forth as the Imperial Airship Corps command team. Regrettably, I forgot to get anyone to take a picture of the three of us with my camera, although many other people did take our pictures. It was very entertaining. Lisa had a telegraph key strapped to her wrist that would make click-clack sounds from the relay on her belt, so she would send dispatches from the Colonel. Maybe we'll have a chance to get dressed up again sometime this weekend.

Opening Day )

After the Opening Ceremonies, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee had a short meeting to confirm that there was nothing more than what is in our written report that we submitted to the Business Meeting. Linda Deneroff and I then went and found Lisa and we headed off to dinner, and ran into Andrew Adams and Emeeli Aro who were also looking for dinner. We set out to use the free streetcar to take us uptown, where we ate at the Homestead Cafe. I had a nice blackened catfish. It's nice to get out for dinner. I'll be surprised if we do that very often. We walked back to the hotels and convention center.

Wednesday Night in the Fan Fair )

Earlier than we would have liked, we headed back to the hotel. Lisa and I got an early look at the room where the Business Meeting will be held, but the tech setup will not start until tomorrow morning. We have to be over there at 8 AM to get set up for a 10 AM start. Other days may be easier, but Thursday is likely to be a little frantic. And we're not the only people working hard on this. I left Business Meeting Chair Jared Dashoff and Secretary Linda Deneroff dealing with the copying of hundreds of copies of WSFS agendas. Everyone is working hard to make this event a success.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
[livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma, AKA Keno Bear, was the hero for winning 6/7 on our keno ticket on Sunday night, but he was disappointed because we've promised to buy him his own fish tank full of fish if we ever get the 7/7 winner.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Today, Lisa and I went to Reno to do errands at the bank, have brunch at the Peppermill, and get grocery shopping done to restock things for her while I'm away in the Bay Area for the next two weeks. To our surprise, we were attacked by a helicopter while at the Peppermill.

A Helicopter, You Say? )

Lisa was very happy to have had a chance to view the exhibits and talk with people at this event. It was a bit of letdown for her to have to leave and have us finish our shopping and go home, but it was still nice to have stumbled onto it in the first place.

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