Tag Archives: traveling

Two Weeks of Travel & Stress, But We Made It

I won’t lie – the last two weeks have been hard.  I’ve been having to travel for work and while of course when one hears where I went, they probably think I’m a little bitch because oh boo hoo, I had to go to great places.   But the fact that I had to leave Larry (even though he had amazing support from friends and family while I was out) was ridiculously hard to deal with.  Then the travel was all about work, but when you’re traveling for work, it’s very difficult to not fall behind on the regular work stuff you’re also responsible for doing.  So yeah, it has been a relief to be at this point and know that I am back to a regular kind of schedule.

It wouldn’t be me though if I hadn’t taken pictures while out and about!  So let’s start from long ago and work our way back to drywall.  It’ll make sense once you see the pictures.

Larry started his 4th round of chemo back on Monday, August 27th.  It was another round of the FolFoxIri + Avastin, which is the max approach we can take at this point.   I then was leaving to go to Mexico City on Tuesday.  EEK.  Larry wasn’t on his own though, as my mom was able to help take him on Wednesday for unplugging the chemo port, and Nicki also came by on Tuesday night to keep him company.  It was a relief to know he was in good hands.

I went to Mexico City to help with training up PwC Mexico folks on our code review template and to also, and more specifically why I was there, to give an introductory crash course on COBOL.  Yep, what was my life for 16 months in 2016 and 2017 is now part of what I’m known for here at PwC.  Good times!  🙂  I was slightly nervous about the whole ‘going to Mexico’ thing, but I managed.  Uber is prevalent in Mexico City just like nearly everywhere else in the world; my experiences from Puerto Rico also had me prepared for what to expect, as just like there, there’s plenty of the regular, non-touristy areas where people live as well as the more haute-touty places.   While during the day of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at PwC Mexico, the evenings were good for enjoying the area.  My coworker who was there with me is Mexican and knew the area, so we had good ideas for where to go.  The first night, we went to a good restaurant right nearby, but on the second/last night, we got to go into historical Mexico City’s Zocalo, the city center.   It’s where you see James Bond in the beginning of Spectre – and it’s pretty damn great.

Mexico City, Aug 28-30, 2018

I was very very happy to get home though – which was Thursday night.    And god bless Global Entry – I was able to get right through customs without much fuss at all.  But leaving LAX on a Thursday evening is awful any time of the year, but worse before a holiday weekend.  I got home finally but I was exhausted.   Obviously Larry wasn’t feeling all that great himself, and in this case, one of the side effects of his chemo was causing him a lot of discomfort.  We had been trying to rig some solutions using OTC medicines but it really wasn’t doing much to help, regrettably.  Spoiler alert:  Larry was able to call the wonderful GI doctor (Dr Fisher) and get prescribed something that has drastically reduced his discomfort.  It’s not entirely gone, but to say that it’s so much better for Larry is entirely accurate.

Anyway, let’s talk Labor Day weekend.  We had originally been going to go to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Williams’ concert, along with my mom.  But Larry’s discomfort basically meant we weren’t going to be leaving home this weekend for that kind of excursion.  It sucked, but Nicki and Rekha reached out to see if we wanted some company so they came over and brought delicious food from All’Acqua (which is a great Italian place in Atwater Village).  That evening, in addition to food, I got them to play Jenga with me, so yay!

Nicki & Rekha Cheer Us Up w/ Jenga, Sat, Sep 1, 2018

On Sunday, we again mostly just hung out at home and watched The Crown and relaxed.  It was nice.

Then on Monday (Labor Day), Nicki & Rekha came back over to enjoy our apartment’s pool complex, which is a very nice thing to have.  We not only enjoyed the pool, but managed to snag one of the cabanas.  It was a nice way to spend the day.

Labor Day Cabana Fun, Mon, Sep 3, 2018

Jetting off yet again on Tuesday, I went to Orlando for PwC’s Risk Assurance leadership conference.  This was a trip that had been scheduled for quite a while, and at one point (pre-diagnosis), I think it was something Larry & I had considered maybe him going on too so we could spend some time at Disney World.  That didn’t happen obviously.  It was a good conference though and I got to spend some time with current friends and connect with new people too.  Always about the networking in this company.  Like I said before, Larry ended up getting some medicine to help with his side effects while I was gone this time, but when I left it was definitely not a resolved issue.  Happily, by Tuesday evening, he was feeling better.  So yay for victories where we can take them.

So while I was in Orlando, we really only got one evening of pretty awesome fun – we were going to get a dinner in EPCOT center and then time to ourselves in the park!  Not a lot of time (<2 hours, actually) but still, this was my first time ever at a Florida Disney park so I was gonna take advantage of it.   Larry gave me the heads up on what rides were worth it in EPCOT so I had my marching orders.  A few others of my friends were on board for this too, so off we went!  Basically from our event space by the UK area of EPCOT, we headed straight to Spaceship Earth, which is within the famous geodesic sphere.   It’s a slow ride that drives you through the world of communication and how it’s evolved over 30k years.  It’s pretty great, to be honest.   It’s also cool to be inside the sphere!   After that, it was over to Test Track, and let’s just say that this ride is the shit.  It’s clearly a forerunner to Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure, and possibly even more fun?  Finally, we ramped up the intensity for the last ride, Mission: Space, and geeeez, it’s a rough one.  It’s a G-Force simulator and fucking wrecks you.   It’s still a fun experience, but next time, I’ll take the less intense alternatives, which do exist!

PwC & Epcot Center, Wed, Sep 5, 2018

Again, it was wonderful to be back home after this trip, especially knowing it was the last one for hopefully a while.

This weekend has been good – our house has drywall up!!  It’s actually been a few weeks since we heard that process started, so waiting a few weeks means it’s all up now.  It’s very exciting – within the next few weeks, cabinetry will be going in.  Yay!

Drywall!  Sat, Sep 8, 2018

Finally, Vancouver!

<–Previously, we wrapped up our fun in Seattle.

There are a couple of options available to get to Vancouver from Seattle.  You can drive, you can fly, you can even take a ferry…but a recommendation I read online was to take the train!  And that sounded wonderful, and apparently beautiful, so that’s what we did.  It made for an early morning as it does take about 4 hours for the journey, but it was a lot of fun.  To make it as comfortable as possible, I had purchased us Business Class tickets on the Amtrak, and that was nice, and we ended up seated next to a couple that was a lot of fun.  She had a bunch of stories and the 4 hours flew by as we made our way to Vancouver, BC.

Thursday, Sept 7, 2017 – Vancouver via Amtrak

We got to Vancouver’s Pacific train station around lunchtime, and so after taking a cab to the wonderful Opus Hotel in the Yaletown area of the city and leaving our luggage, we got some food at the awesome restaurant Cactus Club Cafe.

ProTip:  These restaurants are fantastic, and there are 3 or 4 of them in the city.  They’re staffed by absolutely gorgeous people and all of them are like REALLY nice.  Almost weirdly so.  I’m used to L.A. where the more attractive the waiter/waitress, usually the more they can’t be bothered by you.  It was refreshing.   Also, the food was really good.  So if you have the opportunity, go to a Cactus Club Cafe.  You’ll thank me later.

We couldn’t check in, so we consulted our handy-dandy books and wandered around the area.   Happily, Yaletown is very centrally located and right across the False Creek from Granville Island.  There are also many water taxis to schlep you around that area, so we made use of the convenience to get over to Granville by walking over to one of the local water taxi stops.

Getting Acquainted with Yaletown

Water Taxi to Granville Island

Granville Island is well-regarded as a popular tourist destination and for being an artsy area.  You can stock up on custom glass sculptures, Native American artwork, woodworking and any other number of artistic stuff.    There’s a functional concrete plant that has had the storage tanks painted like figurines, which are now called the Giants.  It’s a fun outing, but you’re in tourist town, for sure.

Granville Island

All this was exhausting to do and we finally got a notification that our hotel room was ready and so we headed back there to get settled in and relax.  After that, I was kind of intrigued to explore and see the actual Casino that is present in Vancouver, which happily meant we’d walk along the route where the Olympics and Expo were held.  But first, dinner!   Larry found us a good spot at ‘The Flying Pig’ which was hip and happening and delicious.   A note:  Vancouver definitely has a lot of fun restaurants and bars – in fact, it’s a pretty great city to live in.  Not cheap though, as it’s quite a popular place to be.  Another thing to note:  Vancouver is not really all that interesting of a city to visit.  There’s stuff to do, but it doesn’t have a distinct personality, in my opinion, in terms of ‘visiting an interest city’.  Yet, I could totally see us living there as it’s just that kind of a city.  Clean, modern, and plenty to do.

Anyway, after dinner, we went on the walk towards the Casino, passing by the big soccer stadium and through the area where the Olympics Village was.  I thought it might be fun to gamble, but when we actually made it in there…it was kind of a weird, don’t wanna be here anymore vibe.  So we left.

Evening Begins

An unexpected thing happened as we were walking home from the disappointing Casino adventure.   We were walking along the False Creek rivershore to enjoy the atmosphere, but it was also full nighttime now and it had been sporadically sprinkling rain, so we were kind of ready to get home.   But as we were passing the Cambie St Overpass, we heard lots of people talking and occasional applause.  Intrigued, we walked from the path over to it, and it turned out to be a site for an art installment!   The art was projecting this giant movie called Uninterrupted about the lifecycle of salmon onto the underpass – we got to see it from beginning to end and it was mesmerizing.  It was also very much an aural experience and just overall stunning.  Also, while waiting for the movie, there was just cool vistas of the city surroundings too.

Uninterrupted at the Cambie St Overpass

After that, on the way back to the hotel, we found a gelato shop and since vacation calories don’t count, we partook.  It was delicious!   Alas, the rain did start to come down harder and it was an omen of what was to come the next day!

The Final Frontier & Other Seattle Fun our last day

Ha, I’m the worst at staying on top of posting these pictures.  That Twin Peaks post documenting the previous day’s amazing activities wiped me out!  Anyway, 2 weeks or so later, here we are and haven’t even touched the Vancouver stuff yet.   Let’s do this!

Morning Wandering

This morning, we had a great breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and then a stroll along the Pike Place area, checking out the Pike Place fish market.  Not much to see this morning, as only some squid was getting thrown around.   Then we took a walk over to the original Starbucks location – didn’t buy any coffee as I’ve had Starbucks coffee plenty of times and there’s no need to wait even longer than normal for it.

Monorail Madness 2: Monorail Harder

Now that it was a weekday (this was Wednesday, Sept 6, for reference), there really weren’t that many people as before out and about doing touristy Seattle things.  Made for a much less crowded experience everywhere!  And so this time on the monorail, we were able to get a seat right up at the front of the train, next to the driver.   Living the sweet life, we are.


The Seattle Museum of Pop Culture

If there is a museum that is more suited for either Larry or me and the things we truly love, it will be hard to tell me what or where that is.  As this museum is just amazing:  it’s got a Frank Gehry-designed exterior, the interior is wild and eye-catching, there’s a giant cinema screen in the middle highlighting all the exhibits in an awesome way, and of course the exhibits themselves are just a blast.  We went through many of them, but our prime directive for coming to the museum?  The 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.

The exhibit for Star Trek contained more than enough to satisfy most Trekkies’ needs.  Models of every Enterprise ship?  Check.  Costumes and props for EVERY series?  Check.  Videos and Trek history everywhere?  Check.   It was incredible.  I loved the Star Trek timeline that tied together every show, even the JJ Abrams alternate universe.  Just amazing.  And the fact is that the exhibit is done with style too – see the pics below.  Larry was in heaven, and it was interesting for anyone, honestly.

There were a few interactive portions in the exhibit, one of which is being able to put your face on top of William Shatner’s in the iconic “KHAAAAAANNNNN” scream from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  See below:

So here are all my pics from the Star Trek exhibit…

Other Exhibits at the MoPOP were also not to be missed, including:

  • Jim Henson Exhibition
  • Bowie by Mick Rock
  • Infinite World of Science Fiction (as seen in the last 2 pics above)
  • Indie Game Revolution

As you’ll see below, these were all a blast.  The Jim Henson Exhibition notably was magical to visit, as not only did you see plenty of stuff about the Muppets (which was ahMAZing), but the stuff that Jim Henson did before the Muppets as well as after.  I loved that you could stand in the Muppet Show’s iconic opening structure!

The MoPOP museum is right smack dab in that whole touristy central area, so we were able to go to the Armory to grab a quick bite before deciding what to do next.  After yesterday’s adventures, not having a plan was a bit of a nice thing.  We saw the ‘Ducks’ office right across the street and it was like, hey, why not just sit in an amphibious vehicle and drive around Seattle and then Lake Union?  And so we did.

The Land Portion of the Ducks Tour

We got driven all over the main downtown area of Seattle, and for the most part, it was stuff we’d had a chance to see ourselves.  It was just nice to not be walking or doing anything  except go along for the ride.  Also, the tour guides are funny and charming, and you listen to fun music while you’re zooming around town.  Highly recommended way to do this!

And then we went into the water of Lake Union, a small lake right north of Seattle and sandwiched between Lake Washington and the main Puget Sound:

Pictures in Lake Union:

After that, it was time to start wrapping up the day, so we did that by going to a fantastic restaurant, Von’s 1000 Spirits, for a delicious dinner and some beers.   And then back to the hotel to pack up as we had a decently early start the next morning to get to the train station and make our way north to Canada!

Seattle Day 1: Space Needle + Science Center Fun

It looks like Larry & I enjoy traveling during the beginning of Septembers, so to keep that rhythm going, we headed out for a much closer-than-usual destination: the Pacific Northwest.  We only were going for a week, so we split the time in half, with the first half in Seattle and the second half in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Our itinerary involved us not heading up until Monday, Sept 4, which was Labor Day.  Kind of calculated on our part, hoping that maybe people weren’t actually traveling all that much.  To hedge our bets, we left on a fairly early flight out, direct from Burbank (yay!) to Seattle on Alaska Air.  Since they’re buying Virgin America, can’t hurt to get used to what they’re like as an airline.  So, Seattle! (thanks Google Maps)

Our hotel, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, can be seen in the map above, and what’s ideal about it besides being part of the Kimpton Hotel chain is that it was very centrally located in Downtown Seattle.  We could walk pretty much anywhere we wanted to go and you know Larry & I love to get our steps in.

Of course, getting in to a city early in the day typically means your hotel room isn’t ready, and that was our case.  Who cares though, once they hold on to your luggage?  We got our breakfast (finally) in the attached restaurant, Outlier, before heading out into the city to go see absolutely everything!

If we headed north from the hotel, we were able to jump on the Seattle Monorail’s southern end, which takes a huge chunk of the walking out of our travels as the other end is situated in Seattle Center, where the Space Needle and many other things are centrally located.

It’s a bit of a retro experience as the trains look like they’re the originals, but it’s still an effective way to get between these two points quickly.  While on the monorail, both Larry and I had to wonder why monorails aren’t more utilized in cities.  My guess is that they’re expensive, take up “overhead sky views” and people don’t want to be under their tracks, and maybe not as easy to manage as subway/light rail trains.

Seattle Monorail:

So as could be foretold in the pictures from the monorail, of course the first thing we were going to do was go up to the top of Space Needle.  One simply does not not visit the Space Needle when in Seattle.  It just isn’t done.

It was a very nice day to be going up to the top, as the sun was out and the haze wasn’t super bad as it would be on other days during our trip.    Why do I bring up the haze?  As the whole west coast seems to be on fire – check out this current map:

The pictures from this day really don’t show too much in the way of haze or smoke, except for the fact you can’t see the Cascade Mountain range, but I imagine that will happen enough anyway just from rainy days or regular smog pollution.  But in the pics from the following day when we visit Snoqualmie?  it’s not a Twin Peaks filter that I’ve applied to make all the pics have that yellowish tinge.  So yeah, kind of sucks.

Anyway, the line to get up to the top wasn’t bad at all, the views were great, and the weather wasn’t too damn hot like it had been in LA the previous week.  More on that in another post!  The funny thing about the Space Needle is that while of course it’s tall enough to be noticed throughout the city, it’s not all that tall, all things considered.  It’s got a great vantage point though, in that it’s situated near the coast and a bit outside of the downtown center, so you get nice views of everything from it.  And of course, it’s got quite the iconic look to it.  Since we had partaken in glasses of wine atop 1WTC, we figured it was appropriate to do so here.  Bring on more tall towers and their wine!

Seattle Space Needle