Travelog

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: 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
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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: 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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Portland Provides a Pepper-Upper BreakAway

Posted on: Monday, December 6th, 2021
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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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FOTOFRIDAY: Portland’s Natural Popularity

Posted on: Friday, April 9th, 2021
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It’s easy to see why Portland’s population has been popping.

Life takes me to Portland next week, as my daughter resumes her search for a college, a chore much compromised by the complications of COVID-19. Thanks to a lifelong friend there, I visit now and then. The city has its share of problems (like homelessness). But also boasts cool things to do and abundant natural beauty.

Seems like it always rains when I’m there, with rare sun sightings and persistent moistness and wind. So, though I live in frozen Minnesota, Portland’s appeal plays hide-and-seek. This time, though, the forecasts predict 60s and sunny. My camera and I look forward to some more comfortable sight-seeing.

Check this out: Portland’s population has grown from ~544,000 in 2000 to ~645,000 in 2020. No wonder some longtime locals all but wear KEEP OUT t-shirts when wandering around waterfalls.

Travel remains arduous, but it’s good to get away again, and to see people stepping out.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: A Short Sunshine BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, March 19th, 2021
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For cold, cooped-up Northerners, nothing soothes like sun, sand, & surf…

I recently joined my daughter, a gaggle of her friends, and their families for a jaunt to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera beaches—a spring break tradition of sorts around here for grads-to-be who can swing it.

The timing and added COVID logistics and risks struck me, a reasonably seasoned traveler, as a bad decision. But I was outvoted (there was no vote). So I looked back on my life—travel and otherwise—and noted a pattern of possibly bad decisions. Yet I turned out alright. Right?

So why stop now? Why stay home? What’s the worst that can happen? (Don’t ask). I went, of course, and soaked up the miracle cures carried by tropical breezes and left longing for more.

More warmth, more travel, more care-free living, more time with actual people. MORE on all that and our little getaway soon…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Fall = Best BreakAways  : )

Posted on: Friday, September 11th, 2020
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  • Maybe Next Year : /

Lotsa folks call fall their favorite season. They seem to get excited about cooler temps, changing colors, a forgotten sweatshirt. Me? Some nickname me “The Summer Guy.” So fall means the end of swims, boats, gardens, and easy-breezy outdoor lounging. I won’t even go into the raking labors and that first ice storm.

However, I do believe fall may be the ideal travel season. Heck, if you go somewhere warmer, it’s still summer! And if you head somewhere trendy and touristy, those swarms have usually flown back where they came from.

I found myself in Europe during the fall of 2000, as part of a 4-month RTW trip. Putin was in Paris on this particular Saturday night. So, well, the place was nuts: Security everywhere, parking nowhere, a seat in a restaurant unthinkable. Until 1:30 in the morning, that is, when my friend and I found both parking and dining.

Without question, that sole meuniere was the best I’ve ever had, well worth the wait. And a long evening of driving all around Paris with no worries and ample time? Unforgettable. The sights were glowing. The people-watching fascinating. And the weather? Picture perfect.

Alas, most of us aren’t going far this fall. Still, happy autumn and…keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Back in the Travel Days…

Posted on: Friday, August 14th, 2020
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Back in the good old says, most people revered travel as an adventure, a gift, a dream. Nowadays, depending on where you live, traveling a few blocks to get a haircut can seem exciting. And risky. 

Speaking of risky, I took some nice shots of Koala Lampur’s exotic, late-night market back in November of 2000. But I preferred most meals in tourist-popular restaurants—since going RTW inspired keeping gastronomic experimentations on the safe side, especially with my 3-year-old son at my side.

Still, whatever this gentleman is cooking looks pretty good right about now. As does wandering around an Asian city that never sleeps. 

Keep the faith.

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