FOTOFRIDAY

FOTOFRIDAY: Hola Mazatlán!

Posted on: Friday, April 29th, 2022
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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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Portland Provides a Pepper-Upper BreakAway

Posted on: Monday, December 6th, 2021
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

You’ll see it all in P-Town, even perky water-bikes at sunrise!

My daughter chose Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has acclimated swimmingly to a life of higher learning, new friendships, and next-level soccer. It was my fault she ended up here; a lifelong friend I visit has resided there for decades, and our gatherings and outings create the stuff of priceless memories—since age 5. 

Now I can get there even more often—this pic is from last month—and like savvy repeat travelers, seek to create a home away from home yet keep hiking new trails. That’s proven easy in Portland. Available outings extend like the mountainous vistas; the past is alive; and backdrops burst with curious stories. As for the people? They’re warm, weird, and friendly—see Portlandia, the TV series.

Unfortunately, like so many urban centers, the downtown has suffered from the firestorms of Covid and political riots (to simplify: Anarchists vs. Antifa). And the homeless are countless, if usually harmless. But locals keep up the good fight of rebirth, and it’s easy to find welcoming places and feel safe enough. There’s something unique and intriguing around every corner.

My ‘home’ is near the college, just outside of the city. Lake Oswego has a funky, call it kitschy, ‘old’ lakeside hotel, the Lakeshore Inn, with a decidedly 70s (my salad years!) flair, worry-erasing views, and a super-short walk to a world-class (and rather tony) village. Or just stroll waterside to Stickmen, the convivial brewpub and bbq next door.

If travel seems rougher as age and pandemic pains increase, arriving at this town serves me an instant tonic. And for those of us living car-centric lives to go most anywhere, carousing a well-endowed neighborhood on foot is itself a rare treat. There’s almost something Swiss-y about this place.

About those charming water-bikes. When I awoke with time-zone and stayed-out-too-late blurry eyes one sunny morning, this was my first sight as I flung open my shades. So I knew it would be a good day. Pastries at a French bakery…enthusiastically attending a victory for my little girl’s new soccer team and meeting many parents…some evermore precious time with my daughter…life is good.

Travel is good, too, despite the hassles and hazards. Now if I could only find me one of those cool water-bikes…

PS Watch for more Portland pics and tales in a follow-up post soon!

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Supply Chain Mess Hits Home

Posted on: Friday, December 3rd, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
The post-it says: The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill

Don’t ever travel. Or leave home. You learn about things, yes! But never forget: You must go home again. And…you will encounter things you didn’t want to know about, like the supply chain.

Who knew that was a thing? Well, now we all do. At least when the fridge decides to die. Or you need a car part that is nowhere to be found. Or the SuperTarget isn’t so super and hasn’t stocked your prescribed vitamin or favorite hot sauce in months.

I can’t figure out if we’ve become spoilt brats. Or if this stubborn frustration is yet another sign that the world is coming to an end. Both/And, maybe? May we remember that for many residents of this planet, these are First World Problems. Sobering…But does that solve the problems?

Not in this case. At least that’s how I felt when coming back from a recent short BreakAway visiting the parents. So lovely, until I walked in my house…The rotten food. The cleanup. The umpteen hours I spent trying to find a fridge that would fit, the countless reps along the way who could only laugh at my naiveté, and the 6 weeks and countless screw-ups the whole debacle endured.

Folks, there’s a fridge freeze-up. Warn your belly.

I ended up—eventually—procuring an overpriced, lower-end appliance that didn’t exactly fit. And ripping up part of my house to get it in. I’d be surprised if it’s still functional in 5 years.

And I couldn’t be happier.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Big Beer BreakAway Boom Continues

Posted on: Friday, October 1st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


Nut Goodies have been a coveted, regional treat forever. But as a beer? Did not see that coming!

You’d have to be living under a vineyard to not be aware of the craft beer revolution that’s been happening for years now—with few signs of bloat yet. Even Covid can’t stop this party.

This pic comes from a local fundraiser event with lots of free beer, as donated by the many (MANY!) brewers roundabout. What a great idea, and oh boy, do people turn out to, uh, support the nonprofit!

Beer has gone beyond beverage and deep into BreakAway territory. People plan passionately around their drinking, er, tasting, er, exploration; they embark on nights out, day trips, weekend getaways, bus tours, bike jaunts, and ways to smuggle precious bevvies home from faraway locales.

Speaking for myself, I try to swill (way) less suds than I did in, say, college. And yet, I REFUSE to miss this buzzy escapist movement. So while not a fanatic, I AM a fan. So much so that I even sampled the Nut Goody Porter though, frankly, the idea sounded most unappetizing!

I was wrong. I liked it! Which…magically and effervescently brings us back to a taste of the BreakAway Creed: Get off your butt, go somewhere, and try something new. You’ll be glad you did!

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