Recent Entries in Travel

  Bruce's Caves


Bruce's Caves - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Wiarton, Ontario.

  The Corran Ruins


The Corran Ruins - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

At Spirit Rock Conservation Area.

  Thirty Bench Winery


Thirty Bench Winery - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Doing a little wine touring today. These guys do a good Riesling.

  Hilo, on the Big Island

May be going here for NoXmas. Sounds awesome.

Say goodbye to the scenic drive, hello to museums and thrift shopping for hula girl lamps and Hawaiian shirts, right? Wrong. Forty minutes later, the sky was azure, the sun ferocious.

The small, old-fashioned city of Hilo is on the east coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, in a perfect position to catch the clouds that form when the warm, moist Pacific Ocean trade winds hit the long, cool slopes of Mauna Loa. The accordionlike folds and grooves of the jewel-green slopes and the uneven coastline and fluctuating ocean temperatures ensure that clouds meander around Hilo as unpredictably as ghost spirits. One day, around noon, I was walking down a sunny street in Hilo, worried because I'd left the sunscreen back in the room. Then I glanced across the street: the other side was shady and bathed in a vaporous mist.

I soon grew to love Hilo rain. It is a reason this city of around 50,000 has remained largely untouched since the days when it was the thriving center of the Big Island's plantation economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the Kona area, on the west coast of the Big Island, has become a major Hawaiian tourist draw, Hilo remains sleepy and mostly condo-free -- few are enticed to build in an area that typically receives measurable rain 278 days of the year.

Good news, everyone. Now, if only they could open one a little closer to me ... say in Toronto.

Still, this will give me reasons to go down there, now that ISPCON is defunct, and my brother appears to be moving to Australia with his family.

Hopefully, having a new tiki bar in SF will forgive the (potential) closure of the Tonga Room, and the bad experience of finding a urine-soaked alcove where the defunct Trader Vic's used to be (I can't believe people are still writing reviews for the closed location).

trader_vics_555_golden_gate_sf.jpg

This fall, San Francisco will become home to Smuggler's Cove, a new bar designed to celebrate the incredible diversity and versatility of the world's most exciting spirit: Rum. Smuggler's Cove offers a whole new approach to rum by featuring a vast array of traditional Caribbean drinks, classic libations of Prohibition-Era Havana, and famous exotic cocktails from legendary tiki bars- all under one roof. In addition, Smuggler's Cove will offer an unparalleled selection of rare and premium rums from around the world carefully selected for enjoying on their own or skillfully blended into cocktails. For over a decade, owner and creator Martin Cate has been passionate about rum & tropical cocktails. He was the co-creator, designer and chief mixologist for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, CA. He has judged in international rum competitions, met with over a dozen rum distillers in five countries, and lectured at Bourbon and Branch's Beverage Academy, Tales of the Cocktail, and Tiki Oasis.

Rum Bar Opening This Fall In San Francisco

  Mardi Gras tips

A good list of no-nos to be aware of at Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras Moments: What Not to Do - Intelligent Travel Blog

4. Be wary of the scam artists! If someone approaches you with the question, "I bet you $100 I know where you got your shoes" or any question along those lines, do yourself a favor and do not wager! Even if you purchased your shoes on Mars, they will get you every time with the infamous answer: "on your feet." And at that point you may feel obliged to pay, because technically they are correct, aren't they? Sometimes it's even common to be forced into a service, such as someone offering a shoeshine, and before you know it they are shining your shoes and demand immediate payment (even if you said "no thanks" loud and clear). Avoid these folks as much as possible. The more you stall, the higher the chance of being pushed into a bad situation. Just keep on moving.

The last part of this example actually happened to me in New Orleans. Granted, it was just a homeless guy who wanted me to take his picture, then asked for a buck in payment afterwards.

  Tonga Room to close?

Oh no! This place was the mecha of Tiki culture in San Francisco!

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Will The Tonga Room Be a Casualty of The Fairmontâ..s Condo Plans?

An alarm is going up amongst tiki-lovers and all those who appreciate San Franciscoâ..s eclectic (hic!) history! The Tonga Room, the much loved tacky tiki bar in the Fairmont Hotelâ..s basement (California @ Mason in Nob Hill), is at great risk due to its ownerâ..s plan to convert a large portion of the hotel into condominiums.

The plan would replace the existing Fairmont Hotel Tower with a new Residential Tower and in the process convert 226 hotel rooms into 160 condos. The Tonga Room is at the base of the existing tower.

  Ah, Borneo

Enjoy Your Stay | Futility Closet

A neat list of phrases you are likely to need in Borneo, at least according to a phrasebook distributed in 1966 by the Borneo Literature Bureau. Such useful ice breakers as:

- There are too many rats.

- There are a lot of mosquitoes here.

- The cockroaches have eaten my shirt.

  Swiss Bike

Cool bike designed for paratroopers while jumping out of planes. This would make a great portable bike for our sailboat ... that we buy when we win the lottery ... and buy up a small island ... and become famous writer/artists ... who sell wine and hot sauce and paintings ... to Martians ... at our island Bed and Breakfast.

Still, a cool bike.

swiss_bike.jpg

SwissBike TX

In retrospect, maybe locating your city on a tectonic plate boundary isn't such a good idea. I'm looking at you, Oakland.

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First South American Civilisation Wiped Out by Earthquake

The downfall of this powerful civilization was its location. The Supe valley is where the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate crash. When the big one hit, this earthquake-prone region was also hit by mudslides, which clogged the rivers. This coincided with heavy rainfall brought on by a strong El Niño, thus forming a 60-mile-long ocean ridge, which sealed off coastal bays. These filled with sand and therefore eliminated the Supe society's source of food.

Tough luck? Says archeologist Daniel H. Sandweiss of the University of Maine: "By not being able to look decades ahead, they [the inhabitants of Supe valley] were not able to cope with it." With the technology of the time, it was near impossible. Sometimes, when it rains it just pours.

No man is an island. Or is he?

Man (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles | Ecoble

If you canâ..t afford to buy your own tropical island paradise, why not build your own? That is exactly what Richie Sowa did back in 1998, from over a quarter-million plastic bottles. His Spiral Island, destroyed years later by a hurricane, sported a two-story house, solar oven, self-composting toilet and multiple beaches. Better yet, he has started building another one! His ultimate goal? To build the island bigger and bigger and finally float out to sea, traveling the world from the comfort of his own private paradise.

Thought I'd make myself sad by showing some pictures of this fantastic place. I really miss Barbados, and do still want to move there. Hopefully I'll come into a bunch of money soon, so I can make this dream come true.

barbados1.jpg

barbados2.jpg

If you look carefully at the rainbow over Bridgetown picture, you'll see a ghost image of my camera. It was taken from inside the exec lounge at the Hilton.

It's X-mas, and there's been nothing to do today, aside from sitting on the beach and playing in the ocean. It's just starting to rain a little, but that means we're in for a downpour in the next couple of minutes; that's the way it seems to be around here, little line squalls herald a much larger rainstorm. It'll then dry up and, if there's any daylight left, the sun will come out and dry up most of it. It's 29C and windy.

We rented a car earlier this week, and got to see most of the island, mainly because we kept getting lost. Be sure to rent a very small car unless you like to be a little claustrophobic on the narrow, occasionally half-paved streets. Renting a car and getting around the island really helps you get to know the place, much more than walking around or getting a taxi to all the touristy spots.

Speaking of touristy, I would actually suggest against taking the Mount Gay rum distillery tour, and just watching the Futurama episode where they visit the Slurm factory. With only a few noticeable differences, they are about the same.

I would put in a good word for the Shasa catamaran tours. Very professional, very cool catamaran, and everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Also, free drinks, and we got to look at sea turtles up close (and maybe accidentally kick one in the face -- I'm really, really sorry about that).

  1976 inteview with Brando

From the Time Magazine archives.

The Private World of Marlon Brando - TIME

"My first impulse," Brando later admitted, "was to run like hell and disappear into the bush. My second was to turn you upside down and plant you, head first, like a coconut tree." Janos spent two days with Brando on the island and escaped without being planted. His report:

Beyond the sand bar, where we had walked the skiff over the shoals at the end of a languorous afternoon, the wind freshened suddenly ahead of a curtain of rain. The usually placid tropical lagoon hurled water into the skiff. The three of us were drenched. Willie, a local fisherman, grinned at the adventure. Our hulking captain frowned, grabbed a bucket and handed one to me. Brando read my fear. "Don't worry," he shouted. "When the rain hits, it will flatten the sea... the weight of the rain water." Our boat sped into the wall of rain; the sea flattened, and a few minutes later we beached the boat on the white sands of a small, S-shaped islandâ..Brando's bird sanctuary.

  How to pack like a man

As anachronistic as the sexist title sounds, there is actually some good advice here, including tricks such as how to prevent wrinkles in your clothes, how to pack shoes properly, and how to pack a dress jacket (something which I always have trouble with).

How to Pack a Bag for Travel | The Art of Manliness

Leave a little room for souvenirs. If youâ..re going on vacation and expect to bring back some goodies for yourself and your loves ones, donâ..t pack your bag to the brim or you wonâ..t have any room to tote the plunder back. If you plan on bringing a ton of stuff home, pack a collapsible bag inside of your bigger bag, and you can fill it with your booty.

Mix it up with your travel buddy. If youâ..re traveling with your bud or your girl, itâ..s a good idea to pack half of your clothes in her bag and half of her clothes in your bag. That way in case one of your bags gets lost while traveling, youâ..ll still have access to some of your clothes.

Steam it up. Itâ..s hard to avoid wrinkling your clothes during transit. When you arrive to your destination, itâ..s best to unpack right away so you can let your clothes relax before creases and wrinkles get a chance to set. If you still have some wrinkles in your clothes, hang them up in the bathroom while youâ..re taking a hot steamy shower. This should help reduce any wrinkling.

  Kabuki buki buki

Staying at my favourite hotel in San Francisco -- the Hotel Kabuki. Tonight, I'm on the club floor, which requires card access before the elevator will even move. Yeah, it's pretty cool, but it all costs money. I inadvertently found out I get a continental breakfast too. That's pretty good, no?

kabuki1.jpg

kabuki2.jpg

The honour bar is pretty pricey, but there's a grocery store right across the street that sells sake. And in the long run, that's what's important, no? Nearby, there's a place (Isobune) that does the sushi boat thing (but that was super busy tonight), and there's even a place (Juban) that does Wagyu beef (but that was $38 for an entree). So I ended up at the O Izakaya Lounge. To be honest, the place is better for drinking than eating. The kimchi (spelled kimchee in the menu) was slightly better than the saba sashimi (which ran about $12 for 6 pieces), but they had Sapporo on draft, and that pretty much made my dinner.

It wasn't really enough for me, but I bought some rice crackers and sat in my room, drinking sake and watching Maverick on TBS. OK, I'll admit, it was a pretty funny film. Graham Greene was the best part of the film.

  Go Sharks

Went to see the Sharks' game last night. Little bit disappointed with their loss, despite 57 shots on goal. Predators just pulled it together at the end, and maybe just wanted it more.

The ISPCON turnout was pathetic. My guess is that this convention is on its last legs, and may need to be combined with the Spring convention, or stopped completely. Blame can be placed on the lagging ISP industry, but more specifically on the lack of marketing this year, and the half-assed attempts to get vendors into the exhibition hall.

Heading out for some breakfast, and may do a little puttering around San Jose. Maybe do a little shopping before heading back into what's left of the convention.

I'm alive and in San Jose for ISPCON again. The flight down was unremarkable, except that now Air Canada doesn't even give you peanuts or any small snacks for free. And they tend to run out of everything else before they get to you, if you're seated any farther back than row 25. Luckily, soft drinks and coffee is still free.

The entertainment system was one of those touch screens, connected to a server which could stream a variety of movies, TV shows, and ads directly to your seat. I settled for The Incredible Hulk and the new X-Files movie. Both were kind of disappointing. Hulk was pretty much the exact same film as was done by Ang Lee a few years back, so I wasn't quite sure why it was even made. I mean, can we try to come up with a plot line that doesn't involve a showdown between the Hulk and some other Hulk-esque monster? The X-Files film was even more disappointing, since it was essentially the same as a really, really long X-Files episode that you'd already seen. The only thing I came away from it with was that God apparently exists, and likes to see young boys tortured with illness or molested by priests, and then rewards repentant priests with the gift of vision for finding decapitated women. Oh yeah, and Russians are into some weird Frankenstein shit.

San Jose is chilly -- about 12 degrees, and cloudy. Kind of how Kitchener was last week. Hopefully it will warm up enough to make people jealous of my trip. No, it's not snowing here, but if the temp drops enough, it just might.

The plan this week is to finish up at the conference and then head back into San Francisco for the weekend, to visit my brother's family, and my new niece. I'm at the Hotel Kabuki again. It's going to be fairly awesome being back in Japantown.

Plans include going to a tiki bar (hopefully Trader Vics), and getting some decent sushi.

  Snapshots from Antarctica

No, this isn't a Quake level screenshot. It's part of a photoessay on Antarctica. Go look now.

pics_of_antarctica.jpg

Scenes from Antarctica - The Big Picture - Boston.com

  Fantastic Caves

A neat look at the different cave structures around the world. This photo is of Fantastic Pit in Georgia's Ellison's Cave. It goes down 179 metres (586 feet).

fantastic_pit_ellisons_cave.jpg

Dark Roasted Blend: Caves: The World Beneath the World


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