I promised pictures and text. Text will come soon, but click here to see some pictures from the adventure in Iceland!
Category: travel (Page 2 of 14)
A quick update from Reykjavik:
Our trip has been a lot of fun! Upon arrival, we visited the Blue Lagoon. The water was lovely, even though we dealt with gale force winds that created mild surf conditions in the pools. We then took the bus to Reykjavik, where we checked into our hotel (the Hilton Nordica, a very nice place) and then went for a walk along the waterfront, where we saw birds, sculptures and rainbows.
Day two had us on an all-day excursion to see waterfalls, hike on a glacier, eat lobster soup in a southern fishing village, and hopefully see the Northern Lights. We were able to accomplish the first three, but persistent rain and fog made sky viewing all for naught. Instead, we experienced a thermal spring (really an “exploded” geyser) by torchlight – really cool. Our guides were great.
Yesterday, we explored more of Reykjavik: the LEGO-esque church, the shopping streets, a couple of museums (one an anthropological excavation of the original settlement in Reykjavik, the other a modern art exhibit), tried out the famous hot dog stand, and found some fun places to enjoy coffee and tea.
Today we slept in (after checking throughout the night to see if the skies had cleared to see the Northern Lights – alas…), then explored the Reykjavik Botanical Garden and Zoo (the arctic foxes were a highlight), soaked for a long time in the Laugardalslaug thermal pools, then enjoyed an evening of a lovely vegetarian dinner, storytelling of Icelandic tales read by an excellent local actor, and drinks at a perfect little cafe/bar in the main shopping district that had a great deal on local beer.
Now we’re back at the Nordica, unwinding and prepping for another day of exploration (and more relaxation). You can see my photos here, and I’m uploading them as time permits. sprite has also been posting on her blog, which also has links to her pictures from the trip.
Until later…. BLESS!
Arrived in Iceland a little over an hour ago. Flight was OK, though the seats had minimal padding and the cabin was unusually warm, so it wasn’t the most comfortable experience.
Still: we are in ICELAND!
Sitting at a cafÃ© at KeflavÃk Airport while we wait for our bus to the Blue Lagoon – best to soak away the sore butt from the aircraft’s seats!
Activity: road cycling
Location: McHenry, MD (Wisp Mountain Resort)
Distance: 125.38 miles (many steep and technical climbs and descents)
Duration: 8:25 (9:17 with stoppage time)
Weather: overcast and cool, occasional drizzle, 59-71 degrees
Avg HR: 154 (max 183)
And it still is – but this time, I was prepared.
Oh sure, in 2010 I believed I was ready, and I probably was, by and large. However, this year things simply were, well, better.
The ride organizers tweaked some of the checkpoints, adding an extra one between Westernport and Deer Park to prevent the mass dehydration spectacle that plagued the field last year.
I equipped my bike with lower gearing, taking my own advice from last year to heart.
I stayed at the base of Wisp the night before the ride, which was a big plus, as any extra sleep netted before the 7:00am start is “money” (i.e. energy) in the bank.
I ate a dinner that was balanced “comfort” food: Mexican, with plenty of protein and carbs and a little bit of fat, chased by a locally-brewed oatmeal stout and plenty of water.
And the next morning, it looked dank, misty and cloudy – possibly the best part of ride day.
In 2010, it was sunny and hot for the ride, especially after dropping down to Westernport and during the climbs back out of the river valley. It was at this point last year where I ran into a battle against dehydration.
But this year was different – very different.
Chris and I drove out to McHenry on Friday afternoon, shortly after he picked up his new bike (yes, he rode a 125 mile event on a brand new bicycle – he’s a brave man), and marveled at the undulating geography that would present itself to us first-hand the next day. After checking into the hotel and meeting up with Mark, we headed to dinner at the Santa Fe Grill to eat the aforementioned Mexican dinner, then headed to the local grocery to pick up breakfast rations (our hotel room had a fridge, so fresh juice and yogurt were nice breakfast perks). We settled down around 10:30pm.
The alarm went off at 5:00am – a painful hour, but I managed to get moving rather quickly. We wanted to be on the road to the summit of Wisp (only a 2 mile drive) by 6, as there could be a traffic jam as people arrive for the event. This year, the field was expanded to 600 riders in the various distances, with approximately 250-300 of them riding the 125 and 100-mile rides. We arrived at the summit by 6:15, prepared the bikes and decided how to approach the cool, misty morning. While Chris opted to go with short sleeves and shorts (he thrives in the cold), I opted to layer a long-sleeve tech shirt under my Connecticut College jersey, knowing that I could doff it at either of the first two checkpoints. Mark also opted for a warm layer that was a bit more substantial, made of wool.
After the usual pre-event running around (the queue for the men’s bathroom was long, though only for the toilet stalls – thank goodness I didn’t need them!), we moseyed over to the start area around 6:55, where we met up with Tim, Mike, Jeff, and John, waiting for the end of the pre-ride announcements (“this is not a raceâ€¦ be careful on the descentsâ€¦ you still need sunscreen, even on a cloudy dayâ€¦”). Of this group of Potomac Pedalers riders, I was the only one who had previously ridden the course, so I knew that the initial descent might be a bit scrappy.
So when the starting call went out at 7:11am, I made sure to work my way toward the front. Tim did the same, while the others hung back a little ways. So the descent wasn’t bad for me at all, while others, according to Chris, experienced flat tires fromâ€¦. well, who knows what. Within the first few miles, I had distanced myself from my crowd and settled into a nice pace through the first two checkpoints.
I spent very little time at the checkpoints: 5 minutes at the first one, maybe 10 at the second one. I saw Jeff again at the second stop, as he was arriving and I was departing. I dropped off my base layer at checkpoint two, and while it was a chilly start for the third leg of the ride, it was a good move as I wasn’t in any risk of overheating. I was eating and drinking well, too – things just seemed right.
The third leg of the ride is the hardest in terms of hills. While previous hills were steep, they weren’t particularly long, so it was possible to power up the slopes and recover quickly. The hills on leg three, however, were long, steep and relentless. Bowman Road and “Killer” Miller are epic climbs that, while separated by eight miles, seem to lie atop each other. Both feature sustained steep sections that, while scenic, wear on legs that have over 45 miles of other hills already under foot. I tapped into my power and made it up them without much difficulty, and wasn’t passed by many people as I climbed – in fact, I passed people on both the climbs and the descents, which served not only to build my confidence, but also put me in the position where I was riding with very few people close by.
The third checkpoint was another shorter stop, where I considered leaving my car keys for Chris – he originally stated his intent to ride only the century on his new bike, which would have put him back at Wisp at least an hour ahead of me. In hindsight, I’m glad I kept them with me. The next section included a lovely dirt road segment, where I bombed past a team of triathletes on time trial bikes. Let me state for the record: I have no idea why anybody would ride a TT bike on this course! The terrain is ill-suited for the extreme geometry of a TT bike, and even if it is equipped with better climbing gears, it’s still best suited for, well, a TT or flatter triathlon stage.
After descending into Westernport (where I did not climb “The Wall” this time, and where the temperature was in the low-70s), I pulled into the Luke P.O. checkpoint to the cheers of excited volunteers (as a side note: all of the volunteers at this event are so positive and supportive, and they make a huge difference to the riders). I spent a few minutes chatting with the women at this stop, all the while drinking (water, HEED and Coke) and eating (mixed nuts and PB&J sandwiches), knowing that the upcoming segment was my undoing in 2010.
I got back on the road (again, to much cheering from the volunteers), and started up the Route 46 climb into West Virginia. This is a longer, more “western style” climb that isn’t very steep, but is very tough after 86 miles of riding. One of the few people I saw during the ride – Tom, from Baltimore – joined me on the climb and we chatted the whole way up, all the while keeping up a brisk pace. This continued to the top, where I distanced myself on the descent (broke 50 mph on the bike for the third of five times on the ride), and he spun back up for the climb. We pulled into the new rest stop at mile 100 (Kitzmiller, MD), and I made it a very quick stop to top off the (still mostly full) bottles and drink a quick cup of Coke. Tom also made it a quick stop, and we both scaled North Hill at a nice pace: not too hard, but not slow, either.
As I passed the Deer Park water spigot at mile 103, I remembered spending a lot of time there last year, trying to cool down and re-hydrate. But not this year.
Pulling into checkpoint six in the town of Deer Park, Tom got a spot of cramp (he’d never ridden more than 87-or-so miles in one day before the DD), and after a quick stop, I left him behind and forged on toward Wisp.
13 of the final 15 miles are mostly mild rollers, with one steep climb up to US 219. The road passes farms and hugs the shore of Deep Creek Lake, passing vacation houses large and small, new and old, most available for rental (something to consider next ski season or, indeed, at next year’s DD). This is ideal time to enjoy the scenery and spin any lactic acid out of the legs (if possible), becauseâ€¦.
â€¦.the final two miles up to the top of Wisp are a killer climb. Actually, only the first 3/4 mile is tough: a 13-15% grind to the ridgeline that is the summit of Wisp. Fortunately, Tri Team Z had established a wonderful cheering station for riders. I passed many riders who were cramping terribly on this pitch, and I cheered them on as I spun past, legs feeling remarkably fresh. As I rounded the final turn toward the finish, I upped my speed, and I finished the ride in a standing sprint, with many cheering me on.
I heard the finish timer say “4:28â€¦.” as I passed.
Wait a minute: nine hours and seventeen minutes?!?!?
Hot damn! I had eclipsed the previous year’s time by over two hours!
Needless to say, I was elated! I let out a cheer, pumped my fist, then proceeded to the scorer’s table to get my finisher’s shirt. I was 23rd over the line for the day amongst the long-haul riders (125 and 100-mile riders), which made me even more amazed.
It was a perfect ride: perfect preparation and execution.
I cheered on many others who finished after me. Mike, John, Chris and Mark all made it across a while after I did. Tim crossed at some point, as I never saw him again after the morning. Jon and Elizabeth arrived back, as well. And we all celebrated a great day of riding with beer and pizza at a local brewery that evening.
Another diabolical day, somehow made anything but. I’ll take it!
(Note: the ride is also a fundraiser for the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, and I’m still raising money for this worthy cause. Click here to donate – thank you!)
Activity: road cycling
Location: McHenry, MD (Wisp Mountain Resort)
Distance: 125.88 miles (many steep and technical climbs and descents)
Duration: 9:21 (11:23 with stoppage time)
Weather: cool start, warm-to-hot from there, 59-92 degrees
Avg HR: 158 (max 189)
This ride proves that there is always something more difficult to do on a bicycle.
Since it’s unlikely that I’ll be riding the Great River Ride this year, I decided to add another longer challenge ride to my 2010 schedule. That came in the form of the Garrett County Gran Fondo, specifically the “Diabolical Double” route: a 126-mile route that climbs and descends river-cut ridges through the Maryland panhandle and parts of northern West Virginia. It’s a route that few have ever completed, and this year the organizers of the Savageman Triathlon decided to stage an organized ride on this route to test the mettle of local endurance cyclists.
I didn’t enter into this ride lightly. Friends familiar with the area said that the terrain was extreme, and that every climb would have a sinister element to it: steepness, exposure, road surfaces conspiring against progress. Naturally, this meant some breakneck descents, tempered only by the prospect of gravel washed over the pavement due to recent torrential rains. There was also the factor of distance between checkpoints/aid stations, which meant the possibility of running out of water or food at later points in the ride.
But this ride still proved inviting. The prospect of beautiful terrain (including the “Westernport Wall,” a 31% climb that’s featured in the Savageman race) and riding with good friends, Mariette and Rick, in an area that I hadn’t explored outside of winter months was too much to pass up. And I’ve been climbing really well on local sinister roads like Massanutten, Coxey Brown, Francis Hollow and Park Central, so I felt ready to give this ride a go.
And it was truly diabolical.
To quote (and second) Mariette:
“[The DD] is is the hardest thing I have EVER done on a bike, and I have done some hilly doubles and some hilly centuries. This thing is like doing Naked Mountain, then Massanutten, then Vesuvius and then doing them all over and over and over until you get 126 miles. But the scenery was kicker.”
She was right. And Rick added the following in a message to Kyle Yost, the course designer:
“I’ve done the Mountains of Misery Double Metric Century five times, and your ride is consistently harder… Same amount of climbing, but the Diabolical Double takes an additional two hours of a serious suffer fest. I really enjoyed the flat section at the end am only too thankful you didn’t chart a final climb any more vicious than you did… I assume you simply couldn’t find one.”
Again, spot on.
A quick summary of the course: starting from the top of Wisp Ski Area, the ride begins with a fast descent (I hit 57.1 mph on this first stretch – some nearly hit 60), then gives you a taste of the climbs to come about 10 miles in: a 1/2 mile stretch at 15-16%. From there, the hills became more and more extreme, adding fuel to the fire. It got to the point where 10% seemed like a mild climb and not something that, on a normal club ride, would be groused at. We hit 20-21% at least 6 times on this ride. There was also a 1.5 mile long dirt stretch, the last 3/10 of a mile being a 13-14% incline – more a job for a mountain or cross bike than a road steed, but we made it up, all the same.
And then there was the Westernport Wall. It was an optional climb, not officially part of the course, but as Kyle said in the pre-ride briefing: you’re there anyway, so you might as well climb it. It’s a one-block-long stretch of poorly-paved road that is 31% for all but the last 10 feet of its length. Other than the residents who live on the road, nobody is allowed to drive it in either direction. In the Savageman Triathlon, any competitor who scales it without falling or dismounting gets their name on a brick at the climb’s summit.
And so I did – and I killed it! And truth be told, it was one of the easiest climbs on the ride, given the parameters are known (e.g. distance from bottom to top).
In Westernport was the fourth of five checkpoints on the route. The organizers required riders to check in at every checkpoint, such was the brutal nature of the ride. At certain checkpoints, it was possible to choose a shorter route, though checkpoint three is the “make or break” if you wanted to shortcut down to the 102-mile route. The checkpoints were well-staffed and equipped with plentiful food, water, HEED and ice (that last one was important as the elevation dropped and the temperatures rose – in Westernport it was 92 degrees, the hottest point of the ride).
The other challenge was that, after Westernport (mile 84), the next checkpoint wasn’t until mile 110, and there were three long, difficult, mostly-exposed climbs through West Virginia before said stop. Furthermore, this course is remote, and there are precious few convenience stores or vending machines along the way.
So when I started running out of energy around mile 92, I became a bit concerned. I slowed down my pace, which helped, but my bottles (even the slurry one) were dangerously low as the heat and sun exposure took their toll on me. Luckily, the town of Deer Park installed a spring water spigot at mile 103, and I made it there shortly after my bottles had run dry. I spent about 15 minutes at that spigot, dousing myself with the icy-cold water, refilling my bottles and eating some granola bar and energy gel. I felt renewed and carried on, Mariette and Rick ahead of me now due to my flagging energy.
The remainder of the stretch to mile 110, and indeed to the finish at mile 126.88, went well: I rode strongly (and solo) for the remainder, and climbed the final hill up to the summit of Wisp (the lower half of which is a 14% grade) with strong legs, sprinting through the finish.
Rolling time: 9h 21m
Elapsed time: 11h 23m
Yup – almost two hours of stoppage time. Some of that was to take pictures, some was waiting for Mariette and Rick at the checkpoints, some was necessary recovery time. But it was necessary, as this wasn’t a ride to take lightly.
- Despite running out of water and getting into a slight energy slump, I didn’t cramp at all on the ride.
- My low gear of 36/25 was a tad too tall, though I never had to resort to tacking or walking. 34/27 would be the ideal bailout gear for this ride – possibly even 34/29 or 34/30. Rick’s low gear was 39/28 and it was tough for him.
- Having a positive attitude helped a ton.
- The event staff were top-notch all the way around.
- For the brave souls who want to try this ride on their own: be prepared with good brakes and a lot of food and other supplies, because some of the stretches between available supplies are very, very long. Checkpoints 2 and 5 only had supplies because of the event.
- Also: if you don’t start and finish at the summit of Wisp, it’s not the real ride (there is a variation of the cue that starts and ends at the base of Wisp Mountain Resort, starting off the ride with a climb.
You can see a set of the pictures I snapped on the ride by clicking here.
Must be the heart of cycling season, because the insanity is stepping up a notch.
This weekend I’m taking on the “Diabolical Double” at the Garrett County Gran Fondo. It’s a tough course: 125 miles with almost 16,000 feet of climbing, most of it in short burts of 12-16% grade. It’s insane, and should be a great challenge.
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This hot and sweltering weather is not a lot of fun for me, but I’m making do. Our garden is flourishing, and we’re trying a new crop this year: peanuts! We may have a crop come fall – yum!
– – – – –
The DC political season is in full swing, and a PAC that I helped found, DC for Democracy, just held its endorsement vote for various offices’ primary elections. The meeting to vote was orderly and had great discussion – totally impressive, and the results of the vote showed a measured and thought-filled process of voting. Kudos, DC4D, you’ve grown up nicely.
– – – – –
I’m loving the FIFA World Cup! The competition has been compelling and a lot of fun to watch. It’s great to see Team USA perform beyond expectations, and the same goes for Japan. Personally, I’m rooting for Germany, and have a soft spot for The Netherlands, my fatherland.
And how can you not like the drone of the vuvuzelas? My friend, David, isn’t fond of them (at least when it comes to his podcast, The FredCast), but I think he’s missing out on a goldmine. Listen to the possibility! (This is an AAC file that works in iTunes, FYI.)
Activity: road cycling
Location: Newport, VA
Distance: 102.7 (rolling with two long, steep climbs)
Duration: 6:21 (6:43 with stoppage time)
Weather: warm and humid, foggy/misty in the morning, 70-86 degrees
Avg HR: 149 (max 187)
It’s been a while since I’ve written up a ride, so I figure writing this epic ride up is a fine place to catch up on things.
This season of cycling started slowly, due in no small part to the fact that DC had a lot of snow, both in December and February, with a colder-than-usual January. So the weather was great for skiing, and I managed to enjoy some of the plentiful snow up at Blue Knob, Pennsylvania, between some of the February storms.
This meant less time on the bike – at least less time that I’d use to build up to a ride like Mountains of Misery. I’ve trained a lot of hilly miles, working intervals, honing my cadence and spin, and shedding some winter weight to prepare for the climbs outside of Blacksburg, VA.
It was a lot of pain, but did it pay off? Would I beat my time from 2009?
First off, the day dawned humid and foggy. The temperature was rather mild (a t-shirt and shorts were fine just before dawn), and when Jonathan and I arrived at the Newport Rec Center, the foggy mist had just lifted from the town.
Our group of friends started in the fourth wave of riders: the ride organizers start waves of 40-50 riders every two minutes. They do this to keep the roads from getting too crowded, as this is not a closed course and they wish to keep riders safe and locals happy.
As we ride away, I’m feeling awake and ready. But my drivetrain isn’t. In fact, shifting is off: sluggish, imprecise, and markedly different from how things were the day prior. I assess things as we roll to find that my rear derailleur cable’s housing is on the verge of snapping at the frame boss: it’s bent almost perpendicular to the boss, the cable straining past the angle.
I soon learn to compensate for the shifting – adjusting the cable tension, learning to over-shift here and under-shift there – but harbor a sneaking suspicion that my rear derailleur cable could snap at any point along the course. I soldiered on, regardless, and our group made great time over the first 61 miles to the top of Johns Creek Mountain, the first major climb on the ride (and our first rest stop). I’d fallen behind the group on the climb, though not by more than 30-40 seconds from the next-slowest person.
As I pull into the stop, I get a tiny cramp adjacent to my left hamstring, but quickly stretch it out, refill my bottles, eat some food and take some electrolyte supplements. The rest of the group does the same, and we descend quickly back to the New River Valley.
Once in the valley, Joyce and Geoff ramp up the pace. This proves too much for my legs, and after two attempts to shepherd me back into the group, I wave them off. So I ride mostly solo for the remainder of the ride. Sure, I see friends along the way: Tim and Mariette, who are both having personal bests on the ride. But I knew that I had to ride my own ride, so to speak. Tim rode ahead, while Mariette wasn’t far behind me.
I had a lot of time to think along this stretch, which was good: in allowing myself to think about things other than keeping up with the paceline, I was able to allow myself to relax and save energy for the big climb of the day: the steep incline to Mountain Lake.
Two quick stops – one at mile 84 to top off on fluids, pop at Tums (for the calcium) and eat some fruit, the other at mile 94 to top off the bidons with ice – translated into increasing energy, and by the time I hit the bottom of the last, 4-mile-long climb, I felt great! I spun the pedals with a decent cadence and quite a bit of efficiency, passing many riders who had lower gearing than me (my granny gear was a 36/26, while many others were using a 34/27 or 34/28) and keeping up my pace even as the grade steepened.
By the rest stop 1.5 miles from the finish, my cadence fell a bit (the road pitches up to 16% at this point) but I was still in good shape. Just prior to this stop, the fastest double-metric rider, Scotty Weiss, passed me with a lot of speed and shouted words of encouragement (he was the only person who passed me on the entire climb). I asked the staff at the rest stop to dump two cups of ice water down my back, which brought instant cooling and a burst of energy (as did the playful pat on my butt from the very cute Virginia Tech student who applied the water).
I powered to the finish, finishing 25 minutes slower than last year, yet shaving 9 minutes off my time for the final climb – not bad, all things being equal. My derailleur cable held up (as I later learned, on two intact strands out of 16), I didn’t cramp (most of my paceline mates did on the final climb), and I still had something left in the tank. After a wonderful 30-minute massage and a recovery drink, I watched and cheered as friends crossed the line.
And after Chris finished his long, weary ride (he’d driven down from Princeton, NJ, the night before and was very tired), I hopped the van back down to Newport to claim my bike, hop in the car with Jonathan, and return to DC.
Next year, Misery – I’m aiming for a personal record.
Back in Utah this week, partly for a visit to my mom, partly for a reunion-cum-retirement-party for my ski coach and mentor, Olle Larsson. This weekend will be the fun time – skiing, hanging out with old friends, getting to spend some time in Park City – but right now it’s the tug-of-war that is “mom time.” It’s trying on the senses, to say the least.
So for the most part, this is not a vacation, not a restful break from the day-to-day. It’s stressful. It’s frustrating. There are times of happiness and humor, too, but the rules are different when it’s time spent with a parent.
For those who like reading about my cycling, there’s a post coming on that, too. But my internet connections are fleeting (mom has no internet access – there’s a general fear of tech in her house), but it’ll be worth the wait (I hope).
A quick list of airports I’ve been to (in an airplane – departing, arriving or connecting):
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah
- South Valley Regional Airport, West Valley City, Utah
- Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson, Wyoming
- Missoula International Airport (MSO), Missoula, Montana
- Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), Kalispell, Montana
- Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), Gypsum, Colorado
- Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, Colorado
- Stapleton International Airport (DEN – closed), Denver, Colorado
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), SeaTac, Washington
- Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland, Oregon
- Oakland International Airport (OAK), Oakland, California
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles, California
- Bob Hope Airport (BUR), Burbank, California
- John Wayne Airport (SNA), Santa Ana, California
- McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, Nevada
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Irving, Texas
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Houston, Texas
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Minneapolis, Minnesota
- O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, Illinois
- Des Moines International Airport (DSM), Des Moines, Iowa
- Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL), St. Louis, Missouri
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), Covington, Kentucky
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), Kenner, Louisiana
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami, Florida
- Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando, Florida
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Atlanta, Georgia
- Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Dulles, Virginia
- Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington, DC
- Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Linthicum, Maryland
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, NJ
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York, New York
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, New York
- Tweed New Haven Regional Airport (HVN), East Haven, Connecticut
- Bradley International Airport (BDL), Windsor Locks, Connecticut
- T.F. Green Airport (PVD), Warwick, Rhode Island
- Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, Massachusetts
- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), Manchester, New Hampshire
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DET), Romulus, MI
- Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charlotte, NC
- Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Richmond, British Columbia
- MontrÃ©al-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), MontrÃ©al, Quebec
Europe & the UK
- London Heathrow Airport (LHR), London, England
- London Gatwick Airport (LGW), Crawley, West Sussex, England
- Bristol International Airport (BRS), Lulsgate Bottom, North Somerset, England
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), Roissy, Paris, France
- Munich-Riem Airport (MUC – closed), Munich, Germany
- Munich Airport (MUC), Freising, Germany
- W. A. Mozart Airport (SZG), Salzburg, Austria
- ZÃ¼rich Airport (ZRH), ZÃ¼rich, Switzerland
- Geneva International Airport (GVA), Geneva, Switzerland
Happy Boxing Day to one and all!
Christmas was a wonderful day. I’m in Connecticut, with sprite’s family as usual. We slept in, which isn’t too surprising, given that we arrived early on Christmas Eve day – 6:00 am, to be precise.
Yup, we drove through the night, taking shifts on mostly empty roads, listening to XPN‘s “The Night Before”: a 24-hour marathon hosted by DJ Robert Drake. We listened to the first six hours of the broadcast, some of it over the air, most of it via the iPhone (worked like a charm on 3G connections).
After a few hours of shut-eye, I finished up my holiday shopping, which had been postponed by SNOWPOCALYPSE 2009!!!! Even though I’d been in a bit of a funk over what to get folks, it all came together in a combination of lack of sleep and time deadlines.
Anyhow, the holiday went well: presents were well received, dinner was tasty, and family visits were lovely and mellow. I’m stoked that my mom and sprite teamed up to get me The Beatles In Mono, the limited-edition box set of all the monoaural Beatles albums. sprite is stoked that she has lots of lovely new yarn to play with. And we’re both elated to have new cooking and food things to enjoy, DVDs to watch and books to read – and some precious time off from work.
Hopefully, Sarah has made it to Rome on her re-routed trip to Egypt. She’s running about 12 hours behind her original schedule, which can’t be fun. Problems with baggage and aircraft in DC caused re-routing of her flights, as well as other hassles. Good luck, Sarah!
And now I hear that, due to an attempted “pants bombing” of a Delta Air Lines flight yesterday, airport security and overall travel paranoia is back to an unreasonable high. We’re still seeing the after-effects of the failed shoe bombing attempt over five years ago, having to doff our shoes at TSA checkpoints here in the United States. Does this latest bombing attempt mean that we’ll see mandatory pants-dropping at security checks? Whatever the case, the dog-and-pony show that is the TSA security check will become even more comically absurd, still doing precious little to actually make things more secure, making travelers more grumpy, and not really removing the root causes of attacks.
And I’ve already heard that the TSA has imposed in-flight lockdowns of arriving aircraft. Air Canada is already advising passengers heading to the U.S. that, during the final hour of flight, passengers are to remain seated with carry-ons fully stowed and are not allowed to “have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”
Is this overreaction? Yes, it is. As David Bernstein (of The FredCast Cycling Podcast) reminds us, Ben Franklin put it best:
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
The TSA is instilling paranoia in order to try and control the situation. In doing so, they fail to achieve any level of security and only make themselves look absurd.