Nathan Crowe

Final vacation post:

Also on vacation, we visited the Maritime Museum in San Diego. It’s comprised of several ships and a couple of subs that you can tour in the harbor. They had the ship from Master and Commander and we stood in the spot where Russell Crowe stood in the movie. There was also a tiny boat called a chalupa.

We also visited the Birch Aquarium. Oddly, their largest tanks were smaller than those at the Albuquerque Aquarium, so I guess we have a pretty good one.

Later that day, we went to the beach and boogie boarded a bit. I was shivering from the cold, but Vanessa was fine. The temperature difference between inland and the beach there is pretty extreme.

Now I'm feelin' Disneyfied

On our trip, we went to Disneyland. They still had many of the old rides with a few revisions. Captain Nemo’s subs are now Finding Nemo subs. Pirates of the Caribbean has several Johnny Depps. There were still some of the movie rides that were made about 10 years ago, such as Honey I Shrunk the Audience and even Star Tours. Sean had a good time even though the Haunted Mansion broke down before we could get a second ride and the Indiana Jones ride broke down around midnight just before we got off and left. At one point, late at night, they had the impressive projection on water vapor “Fantasmic” on the river. Sean was sleeping on my back and was too sleepy to wake up for it. I guess rides do break down there, but the appearance of the rides is pretty good for their age. Despite ride breakdowns, Disney must put a lot of money into the park. There are little details like moving turtles at the top of the train rollercoaster that you might never see. All of the employees in the parades must cost a bundle…not to mention how many fireworks they use.

Here's mud in your eye

I think it’s been an awesome few days for Sean. Friday was his fifth birthday. He got a new Sonic game. (He called me up today to tell me he’d unlocked a new level and then again later to say he’d unlocked the other character.)

Then we went camping with some friends in the Jemez mountains near Cuba (New Mexico). It rained heavily the first couple of days. It’s apparently hard to sleep in the rain. It soaked a few tents, causing some early departures. It’s also very noisy. I think you shouldn’t count on sleeping when you go camping…although Sean slept just fine. We took a couple of folding cots that kept us off the ground. They just barely fit into the tent, but worked reasonably well.

I learned that you probably shouldn’t trust a car GPS when camping. Ours starts by asking what city your destination is in. (uh…none?) Also, it seemed to have no idea where some dirt roads were. On the way home, it wanted us to turn into a field behind a closed gate. That’s when I learned about its ability to route to a destination while avoiding a particular part of the route.

The second day’s weather was even worse, with cold and heavy hail. It was apparently free-range cattle country and we saw a huge bull roaming around.

On the third day, I got an ATV ride with a friend. With a good driver, it’s as good as a roller-coaster. He also let me borrow it and take Sean and his cousin riding around a bit. We saw what I think was a wolf in the distance. I learned that you should always wear eye protection while driving them, as I got mud in my eye on the way back to camp. I was driving down the road squinting and passers-by surely thought I was son of Popeye.

It was a beautiful area with a grassy valley, forest on either side, aspen, and an area of rocks to climb on. It was great hiking around out there with me boy. Ug ug ug ug ug.

Turn right ahead…followed by a turbo boost, Michael.

We downloaded some extra voices for our GPS. We downloaded a lame Yoda-like voice, and Mort, a kinda nervous guy. When you arrive at your destination, Mort says, “Let’s get inside. I burn real easy.” Some of the files you seem to find are just poor imitations. You can apparently make your own files too.

One more time! Come on down and meet…

We recently went to my cousin’s wedding in San Diego. It reminded me of the wedding in Spy Kids where the couple parachuted from the balcony toward the sea…except that the couple in this case didn’t parachute and went on a Mexican cruise instead.

The Pacific ocean is cold this time of year. I wasn’t going to boogie board until my cousin pulled out a boogie board and said, “let’s rock”. I was shivering for about an hour after that. As usual, I forgot swimming trunks and had to buy some on the trip. I have about four now.

The Imperial Sand Dunes outside of Yuma, AZ looked cool. Giant pristine dunes with people four-wheeling up the face of them. Tasty Greek food in the mall in Tucson.

Hotel tips: Never do a walk-in hotel if you’re trying to save money. A better deal is easily found on the internet. A funny trick would be to go into a hotel and use their lobby computer to find a good deal on a hotel in the area. Learn to use the waffle maker in the hotel breakfast room. (Pour a little cup of batter on the waffle iron, close it, turn it over. Wait for beep and turn it back over. Cut up some fruit to put on top of your waffle. It’s the best thing available in a “continental breakfast”.)

Our relatives let us borrow a GPS, which was very handy. It’s a great thing to lend to relatives while they’re visiting your area. We had ordered a GPS and it arrived while we were on the trip, of course. We went to Asmara, an Eritrean restaurant in San Diego. Very tasty. They bring out a platter of tasty stuff that you scoop up with a sort of sourdough-tasting rubbery bread. Eating with your hands is fun. I first heard of Eritrea during the Olympics. It’s next to Ethiopia.

The Zune Pass trial worked out well for the long road trip to California. A cute trick is to avoid syncing your Zune after it expires. The Zune doesn’t realize it’s expired. But I’ll have to sync once I’ve finished up these podcasts. Vanessa will be glad to have one song off of there that the Zune likes to play. She got annoyed enough with it in the car that she was doing a chorus count…which is outrageously high in this song.

a half hour head start

This is weird. The time in Bombay is offset from New York by 9 and a half hours. When it’s 12 PM in New York, it’s 9:30 PM in Bombay. This page describes the reasoning behind this half-hour offset. Apparently, it’s more accurate and gets closer to making noon the time when the sun is highest in the sky. Even more extreme is Nepal and Bangladesh, which have 15 minutes offsets.

Snail Swarm!

We went to Deming/El Paso recently, where it rained heavily. (This is the desert, so it was a nice change.) There were snails all over the lawn in El Paso. We piled them up and watched them all herd in the direction of the trees. How do snails do their direction finding?

Journey to the Center of the US

We’re back from visiting Vanessa’s relatives in Kansas. We had a nice time getting to see them. A long car trip goes well with three drivers taking two hour shifts. I’d never been to Kansas..very hot and humid. I’ve never seen so much corn and soy beans. Uncle Jerry has an impressively large CD collection…several hundred. Aunt Toots makes a mean Italian meal. Cousin Jake plays a mean ukelele. Sean enjoyed running through their maze-like stair-filled house.

I learned (the hard way) what a chigger is. It’s the larva of a kind of mite that lives in the grass waiting for someone named Nathan Alter to come through. It then pounces on Nathan Alter, heads for hard-to-reach spots (like behind the knees), and turns him into Blister City. They’re so tiny that you never actually see them, but the results are quite evident. Oddly, Sean pranced through all the same places I did but didn’t get bitten once by anything.

Some trivia about Lawrence, Kansas where we were visiting…start up Google Earth and zoom all the way into the default position. TV hates Lawrence, KS. It was nuked in The Day After and Jericho. Their college radio station ain’t bad. (listen here)