FOTOFRIDAY

FOTOFRIDAY: Have a Day in San Fran’s Tadich Grill

Posted on: Friday, June 17th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

This shot offers a rare view of the iconic seafood joint at rest, since the place is always packed to the, er, gills.

Few destinations promise a mini-BreakAway as intoxicating as a good restaurant. Especially for those of us that have worked (and visited) dining establishments as a way of life and, at times, obsession.

Tadish Grill, serving San Francisco since 1849, fits the bill. As their website states and your experience confirms, you get Large Portions…Fresh Ingredients…Fun atmosphere. I loved it, but so obviously did every other person cherishing their lost-in-time meal there. Even the waiters were like something from a Bogart movie. Talk about great people watching!

So I spent a day there last winter when on vakay in SF. Yes, a day. I met a few longtime friends for late lunch. One, a regular patron, had arranged a spacious, private booth. We lingered over a long, luscious meal of seafood courses and fine California wines. As the lunch crowd slowly left, we stayed on. Until we were the only table left…and this picture became possible.

At around 4:00, people started trickling in again. And the place became full by 5. The wine kept pouring, the conversation moreso. We actually pondered staying on for dinner. But, no, we eventually found the bright, busy streets. And stopped in to enjoy a few classic hotel bars for more conviviality and catching up as the day turned to night.

You can’t do this kind of BreakAway often. But I’ll remember the experience as long as I live. And with any luck, have another chance some day to return to Tadish.

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FOTOFRIDAY: CDC Opens Up Re: Testing Requirement 

Posted on: Friday, June 10th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
Quarantined in leave Italy and think you’ll have a view like this? Think again!
  • Finally! You can ditch the jitters about getting stuck in lockdown somewhere

Quickly and quietly, the Biden Administration and the CDC have announced that you won’t have to provide proof of a negative C19 test to get back into the USA. Whew! Having travelled internationally a few times during Covid, I can attest to the angst of wondering…am I going to get stranded in a hotel room for a week or two, maybe more?

The new rules take effect on midnight, Sunday. No more will moms need to drive from Minneapolis to the Mayan Riviera to rescue a kid who got stuck sick on spring break…and then sneak him into the US at the US/MX border! (Yes, I know someone who did that.) 

People are already traveling like lemmings to Amsterdam, Paris, Rome—the usual prospects. The airlines are printing money again, while using high gas prices and inflation babble as a reason to raise fares and make (even) more money. But now? Expect the numbers—all of them—to, uh, skyrocket.

Budgets aside, this is great news for travelers.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Savor Your Sacred Spaces

Posted on: Friday, May 20th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Sunsets always impress at Sutherland Park in Sioux City—that’s in Iowa. 

How many times have I gathered with friends to throw frisbee, swill beer, play guitars, sing songs, take pics, kick off reunion opening ceremonies, hug through closing ceremonies, and (of course) watch the sun set? How many times have I done variations on those themes with my own kids or…alone?

Who knows? But the number would be staggering. And each visit feels sacred; I still travel to Sioux City often to visit my parents and others, and no visit there is complete without a BreakAway to that park. I make time, no matter the flurry of reality, and feel a profound gratitude for simple priorities and spaces.

The park has a history, naturally. In a way hilly town, this park sits atop one of the highest elevations and once had a functioning water reservoir underneath it, before water towers. Then the name changed—along with a few trivial details. But otherwise, it’s just a huge, grassy, glorious, flat space with a view of forever. And that includes Nebraska, South Dakota, endlessly rolling hills, and more.

Worries blow away there, while memories suddenly swirl inside the head, heart, and soul.

Is this heaven? Yes, and it’s Iowa. It’s also just a park. A nearly-forgotten place. And it is sacred. Please stop by your sacred spaces soon.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hola Mazatlán!

Posted on: Friday, April 29th, 2022
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Mazatlán boasts countless beautiful sculptures along the waterside. More than pelicans, maybe?

When a reunion of old friends got scheduled for late April, my initial impression was…Too late! By then, with any luck, the green is glowing and the tulips are dancing in MN. But this year…there is no such luck. It’s 38F with sleet at home, so I’m happy to be in Mazatlán. Here, the temps this week will range from 63 – 83. Clouds? Ain’t seen none yet!

I’ve been here before, and usually come as a lazy tourist eager to soak up sun, sand, and surf. So I’d make a lousy tour guide. Still, I know a lot about the place from observation and osmosis. One thing I know: This gritty city (yet golden in the right, rich places) has a LOT of sculptures. Most in a certain style, perhaps by the same artist or era?

Research will follow. When I get home and am back stuck indoors. For today, and there IS only today, I’ll snap the pics and enjoy the warmth and sights—highlighted by the artworks along Mazatlán’s 5.6 mile malecon. See! I do know a few factoids!

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Como Conservatory Minni-BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, April 15th, 2022
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Winters are fierce in Minnesota. So lush greenscapes like Como’s Conservatory radiate a quick dose of sun and sanity.

FOTOFRIDAY today lauds one of our local treasures around here: Como Park, which features all kinds of things—the most visited park in MN, an 18 hole golf course, a killer outdoor music venue (on a lake with rentable little watercraft), some eateries and shops, and—best of all—the glorious Como Conservatory. Take the whole family. Often!

Sniff real flowers. Bask in the trickling waters and stare back at the turtles. Inhale the deliciously sultry air in the fern room. Feel agog in the bonsai and orchid rooms. And above all, soak in some rare green during the 5.5+ months that MN goes dormant, dark, and dank.

St. Paul created this masterpiece starting in 1915. The conservatory has been through a few disasters (like a huge hailstorm), but also ongoing additions and improvements. It’ll set you back $0 US to visit, though donations are welcome. This essential winter survival strategy will forever remain…Highly Recommended!

PS Bonus FF pic (though he really deserves his own post)…Yes, Como Conservatory has a sloth. When you go, can you find him? That’s part of the fun! He rarely moves, eats, or poops, yet always fascinates fans and leaves us with hopeful grins.

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FOTOFRIDAY: 40 Million Americans Can’t Be Wrong!

Posted on: Friday, April 1st, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


California, like most warm states, is crowded. But the reasons why quickly meet the eye.

Travel IS coming back! And yet…Covid and other Realities kept this Vita-D-starved sun-seeker from sneaking away for the winter BreakAways of my fantasies this year. But I did manage a week or so in California and flew away understanding why people keep flocking there.

Sun, sand, surf, and of course wineries, waves, and all sorts of wonderfulness. (Never mind the prices, the lines, or the challenges of traffic and finding parking.) In a country full of beauty and marvels everywhere, no place else offers the warmth and allure of Mediterranean-esque California. So it was good to see the place busy and buzzy and returning to post-pandemic normal.

I started going there—for long summer visits to an aunt who had escaped the Midwest—at the age of 6. Funny, when the sea mist grazes me and the sun embraces my face, I almost feel like a giddy kid again.

More about Super Cali soon!

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FOTOFRIDAY…Happy Mardi Gras!?!

Posted on: Friday, February 25th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

That finger-pointer might be saying, “Have fun, but…beware of crowds!”

New Orleans (a.k.a. NOLA, as regulars and insiders call it) may be the most magical, entertaining city in the USA. Despite an onslaught of weather disasters, crime, corruption, and Covid, the place always somehow rebounds and welcomes everyone with open arms and bottles.

Don’t be surprised when charming bartenders shake your hand and introduce themselves.

Mardi Gras is happening now, and for several days. (Although one could argue that it’s ALWAYS Mardi Gras there.) Fat Tuesday is, well, next Tuesday, March 1. Traditionally, that’s the pre-Lent big blowout night before 6 weeks of abstinence and laying low, leading up to Easter Sunday. Not to worry, though: in NOLA, the celebration never stops.

BreakAway has recommended casual visitors to avoid Mardi Gras and other peak times. Still, our hearts are in NOLA as Mardi Gras signals spring’s slow, but sure, return.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Whither Spring Break?

Posted on: Friday, January 14th, 2022
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Life’s a beach! So…where is everyone? Oh yeah. They’re hiding at home, suffering in the hospital, or out scavenging for at-home Covid tests.

People are not happy. What’s there to giggle about? A pandemic that makes people sick, literally, just keeps on keeping on. Inflation threatens pocketbooks yet shelves sit impossibly picked-over. The political mood gets more grotesque by the day, with no sign of peace talks.

And then there’s winter. Sigh. I actually found myself in an argument with a Bostonian recently about who had the ugliest gray snow. I won, but there was no cash or prizes involved.

A guy could go on and on. But why bother? In years past, the lucky ones (and that used to include me, usually) would use these ugly times to plan a spring break. And think about it. A lot.

So instead, if we dare, maybe we’ll look at a picture or two. Like this shot from last year’s spring break (which actually did happen for me, at a resort that was blissfully limited to 33% capacity). And we’ll binge on whatever takes our mind away and helps us…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Ghosts of NYE Past

Posted on: Friday, December 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • A picture dances 1,000 words…so take pics, take breaks, and take nothing for granted.

This picture features my 2 perfect children. On New Year’s Eve, 2017, playing at sundown on a pristine beach on St. John, USVI. The theme here might be, “If you’d have told me…” The punchline is always the same: Do it now…or at least ASAP.

  • If you’d have told me…they fly away

One was back from college out east, so I had seen that disappearance already. But the other was still at home, 6 years younger, and still (relatively) carefree and un-adult. Now she, too, is far away at college. So vacation scenes like that don’t much happen. Obstacles grow like seaweed over time.

  • If you’d have told me…cancer

Oh yeah. On this date, I had just finished several months of several kinds of tumor treatments. So the notion that I somehow managed a getaway during this period seems impossible. And indeed, the worst effects (long illness) politely waited until after returning home. Proving: I’m so glad we went. Even though I was scared to near-death.

  • If you’d have told me…family dissolved

Few things last forever. Including marriage. And when they conclude, that’s usually for the best. Still, that makes doing wild and crazy things (like ditching everything for island Breakaways over holidays…while you still can) more brilliant. Cuz you likely won’t do it when the family is no more. Yet, with any luck, good memories live forever. Trust the pics.

  • If you’d have told me…pandemic

With all the life ch-ch-ch-changes, epic breaks to escape winter become harder than ever. Then enters the trump (no not him) card: Covid. Oh sure, some people still travel. But at their own risk, and with much more effort and hassle. Aren’t you glad you went that place when it was relatively easy? I am.

  • If you’d have told me…passion still matters

Most likely, we’ve all simplified our goals and dreams over the past few years. And that’s….OK. Reality Resets happen throughout life. Sometimes from exterior forces (pandemic), sometimes from inside your own house. But please, keep the passion. Somewhere in your heart, your photo collection, and your hopes for better days ahead.

And when you…finally…arrive at that happy place again, take lots of pics!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Offers Ice Kayak BreakAways

Posted on: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If you conquer fear, you can do dangerous things worry-free! 

As I write this near St. Paul, news radio keeps telling us about yesterday’s weather records: Highest temperature; highest dewpoint; first December tornado(s); first December tornado and severe storm warnings.

Most peculiar. And, as some might say, just another sign that we are in the End Times. If so, there’s a certain relief in that—since most of us have found planning ahead perplexing lately, if not laughable. The 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness on this site offers a big-pic, life-loving approach to designing the future. Perhaps it’s time to pen the parody?

Meanwhile, this lake lover ditched the tech-desk and took advantage of recent unseasonal ice thaws—brought on by oddly hot days and strong winds. Only part of the lake turned back to water, so that’s the part I paddled on. Mostly. But as this pic shows, sometimes it’s fun to play close to the edge, too. I’ve even been known to paddle through the ice. Scary? Maybe. But the noise is amazing, rather like crashing a giant cocktail.

When I share pictures like these, some scold me, while others offer advice like, ‘I hope you were wearing a life vest!’ or ‘You better be in a dry suit!’. Nope. I trust my skills—and find stupider things to worry about. Anyway, if these are the end times, why worry about the future? Carpe diem! BreakAway on a sunny day and rejoice in winter warming!

And, now more than ever, keep the faith.

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