Archive for category Travel and Places

Eight Flights, Eight Seatmates. Adventures in the Air

Originally published on MySpace on June 24, 2009

As most of you know I went to Finland a few weeks back, and then I went to the Bay Area for a week of SQL Server bootcamp. In those two and a half weeks I flew eight flights and had eight seatmates. Some were interesting, some just slept. Here’s the rundown…

Portland to Washington DC

I usually use the first leg of any long trip to catch up on the sleep I haven’t been getting for the past five years. My seatmate had the same plan. I can’t tell you his name, because he slept the whole time. Me? I slept a bit and then watched “He’s Just Not That Into You” in Spanish, because I wanted to bone up on my Spanish since I was on my way to Finland. Oh wait, wrong country. I was bored okay!?

Washington DC to Copenhagen (that’s in Denmark people)
This was an SAS flight, and it was going to be awesome. Yeah, that’s what he said. I had an aisle seat in the middle of the plane, which is a strategic place for food and beverage consumption. We left the gate on time, got in line for takeoff, and then the dreaded announcement over the PA.

“We’re going to be on the tarmac for a while here. There’s weather over the Northeast portion of the United States and Canada, and all flights heading North have been grounded. We’ll be shutting the engines down for a while.”

This stuff always happens right after a big air diaster, and the Air France flight that broke apart in rough weather was most certainly the reason for this extreme caution. Because you know most airlines will fly you through a snowstorm with thumder and golfball size hail.

So we sat, and sat, and sat. An hour into it they finally rolled out the drink cart and the chocolate! And we started having happy hour in my area of the plane.

Next to me, Stuart, a cardiologist from Virginia, on his way to Stockholm. He went to med school in Belgium and had lots of stories.

Across the aisle from me, Hanna, from Finland, who was flying to the same little city (Turku) in Finland that I was. She was drinking whiskey because she had a sore throat. And when she found out I was on my way to Laitila she told me about a famous Laitila dialect poet named Heli Laaksonen.

In the row in front of me, Carrie Ann, the head chef of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. She was on her way to Turku as well, which happens to be a huge cruise ship building city, to check out the kitchens on the newest (world’s largest) cruise ship. She was going for ONE day! She also used to be the chef at one of my favorite restaurants in Saratoga, CA, called the Plumed Horse.

Next to Carrie Ann was Eduardo, who looked like a rock and roll guy, and was in fact traveling with his band to tour in Sweden. He taught us all how to swear in Portuguese.

We sat on the tarmac for three hours, and had multiple drinks in our makeshift happy hour in the aisle of that Airbus. The three of us who were going to Turku discussed how we would get there from Copenhagen if we missed our connection (we did miss our connection).

Copenhagen to Stockholm
SAS’s solution to our missed connection from Copenhagen to Turku was to fly us to Stokholm. An extra leg, and extra five hours. Bonus! My seatmate on that flight slept, so I can’t tell you who he was.

We arrived in Stockholm and had some time to kill so Hanna and I had a snack and did some duty free shopping. She was bringing home a bottle of whiskey for her husband.

Stockholm to Turku (Finland)

It was one of those puddle jumper prop jobs where you wonder if they’re powered by a hamster wheel.

I arrived in Turku, and my bag went to Barcelona. Lucky bag!

Turku to Copenhagen
Boring. No fancy seatmate.

Copenhagen to Chicago

My seatmate, Adam, was an unemployed 25-year old marriage and family counselor in L.A. who had been in Copenhagen visiting his brother who decided to live abroad for a year. My first question to Adam was, “So Adam, why do people get divorced?” This 25-year old with little life experience gave me a surprising answer, “Because everyone wants instant gratification. No one has the patience for marriage anymore.”

We spent the first hour debating marriage and relationships, and then we both slept the rest of the way.

Chicago to Portland
I honestly don’t remember this flight. I do believe I passed out with my mouth open, and a bit of drool hanging on. I was tired.

Portland to San Jose (CA)
My seatmate was a healer who lived and worked in Monterey and Santa Cruz, two very healer-friendly cities. He was on his way back from a healing conference in Vancouver, BC. He told me my frozen shoulder was caused by emotional trauma, which is probably true considering what I went through in the past year.

San Jose to Portland
My seatmate asked one question, “What kind of dog is in there?” and that was it. I had Lili the Wonder Pug stuffed into a carrier under the seat.

Sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you get stuck. Ever had an interesting seatmate? A really smelly one? One who wouldn’t shut up for the 32-hour trip to Hyderabad? do tell!

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Photo Blog, NYC: Part 5 (Election night in Times Square)

Originally published on MySpace on November 19, 2008.

One of the most incredible nights on my trip to NYC with CB was spent standing in Times Square on election night. It was totally unplanned. Impromptu. Just a random walking destination after dinner that night. We had no idea what we were walking into.

Times Square

Arriving in Times Square in my vintage Value Village coat…

In awe…


The crowd…

The ABC billboard…

The clock strikes 11pm East Coast time, and the polls are closed on the West Coast. Barack Obama is declared the winner and the crowd goes wild.

My personal favorite taken in the Dulles airport…

All photos by Cabana Boy.

Technorati Tags: Times Square, Obama, NYC, Election

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Cabana Boy and The Muse do NYC: Part 4 (the limericks)

Originally published on MySpace on November 10, 2008.

CB and I spent our last day in Manhattan exploring and being tourists. We went to Wall Street, Ground Zero, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and when we couldn’t stand any longer, a little restaurant near Central Park called Bella Cucina (E 87th Street and Lexington Avenue).

We were seated at a small table by the window in a sort of enclosed sidewalk patio area. The view to the street was blocked by a row of large white trailers, because we were sitting smack in front of the staging area for a film called “Solitary Man.” We tried to guess who would star in a movie called Solitary Man, and CB suggested Russell Crowe. I was thinking it was probably some older actor who plays angst well. Someone like Bill Murray. We finally gave in and looked the movie up on IMDB and found it stars Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer and Danny DeVito. Hmmm, could be interesting.

Back to the story… We perused the menu and were pleasantly surprised to find that the wine list contained bottles of wine that ranged from $25-$35 a bottle, which seemed to be completely unheard of in New York. We ordered a bottle of Chianti Classico, an appetizer and our entrees, and settled in for a nice dinner.

My friends will tell you that I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, especially if I’m drinking on an empty stomach. I was getting giggly before I even finished the first glass of wine. It was at that point that I noticed the table cloth was actually a sheet of butcher paper, and I whipped out my ballpoint pen to get creative.

I challenged CB to a limerick contest, and we both started writing furiously. The idea was to write fast and furiously without editing.

I finished my first limerick, and began to read it out loud to CB, barely able to finish each line because I was laughing so hard. Here’s the first limerick:

I once had a friend named Mike

Who rode around all day on a trike.

When asked if the seat

Made mince of his meat

He said, “Not anymore than I’d like.”

And here’s me cracking myself up.

I think this was CB’s first limerick for me:

There once was a girl named Kelly

Who had the most extraordinary jelly.

It swayed and it shook

And wobbled amok

And made nervous the whole of New Delhi.

By this time we were in hysterics. I then asked CB to give me a word to include in a limerick. He said, “Antidisestablishmentarianism,” to which I replied, “Uh no. How about a word I’d actually use.”

“Okay,” he said, “Makeup.” Ahh that’s better. I gave him the word “bustier” and here’s what we came up with.


As a makeup artist I know

That on diva’s you have to go slow

Some powder, some gloss

Let them be the boss

Or out the door you will go.


Her bustier was full of delights

And her knickers were feathery light

A kiss on her breast

Was always the best

Way to kick off the long summer night.

The evening went on like this until the entire table was covered with drawings and limericks, and the limericks just kept getting raunchier and raunchier as the night wore on. The couple at the table next to us (a mere four feet away) finally asked what was so funny. I told them we were being creative and writing nasty limericks. They were on a date, and were none too thrilled to be seated next to a loud silly couple like us. Too bad, so sad. As CB would say, “Get over it!”

When the meal was over and the bill was paid, we artfully rolled up our butcher paper full of memories and walked down the street to catch the subway back to the hotel.

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Cabana Boy and The Muse do NYC: Part 3 (the punking of Carl)

Originally published on MySpace on November 8, 2008.

Punking Carl…

The scenario: Anna from St. Petersburg shares a cab with CB from the airport and then he can’t get rid of her.

We arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon, and CB called Carl to tell him he’d meet him in the lobby of the hotel at 5:30pm. When 5:30 rolled around I put on my best Russian accent (not that great but certainly passable), and headed down to the lobby with CB.

I let CB walk ahead and greet Carl, while I stayed back a bit behind a potted plant. I “Anna” then casually walked up to the pair with a sly smile and waited to be introduced.

“Oh, Carl this is Anna,” said CB with a complete poker face. I said hello to Carl and listened to the boys chit chat about where to go and what to do, until CB turned to me and asked, “What would you like to do Anna?”

“I need drink!” I replied in a thick accent. “In cab you promised buy me drink.”

“Well, there’s a couple of pubs down the street,” said Carl. “I went to one the other night that was pretty good.”

“Beer?” said CB. “Anna probably wants vodka.”

“Yes, I’m flying all day and need drink vodka,” Anna said.

Carl looked a bit confused by this point, seeing that he had no idea who Anna was or where she came from, and CB wasn’t giving any details. The three of us decided the pub would be fine and headed out of the hotel to find it.

When we got to the first street corner Carl said, “My cousin married a Russian girl. From Moscow I think”

Anna turned to CB, hit him in the shoulder and said, “See! I told you Russian girl very nice. You should marry Russian girl!”

“Where you from again Anna?” asked CB oh so innocently.

“I told you in cab. You remember nothing!” Anna said getting a little irritated.

“Oh that’s right, Leningrad,” said CB.

“No! Not called Leningrad long time. St. Petersburg now,” said Anna with authority.

And on we walked.

When we got close to the pub CB asked Anna what she normally ate in Russia, and what she’d like for dinner. “Borscht? You eat Borscht?”

“Cabbage, potatoes, borscht. I had enough Borscht for lifetime. No more borscht!”

As we approached the front door of the restaurant CB pulled Carl aside, gave him a God-help-me look and said, “I shared a cab with her from the airport and now I can’t get rid of her!”

An angsty Irish waitress greeted us as we entered the pub and showed us to a table in the corner in the back of the pub, which was a good thing because Anna was about to get “drunk” and start getting more forward.

We sat down and looked at the menu, and Anna started asking questions. “What’s dis, chicken fingers? It’s real fingers?” Carl and CB explained that they were not real chicken fingers at all, and that chicken didn’t really have fingers. Anna continued to peruse the menu and ask totally naïve questions about the various food items until the waitress came back.

“What’ll ya be having,” she asked in a lilting Irish accent. CB and Carl each ordered a pint of something, and then CB asked if there was a full bar because Anna wanted vodka. He ordered a vodka tonic for Anna and the waitress rolled her eyes as she walked away.

Anna downs her first vodka tonic…

“I’m feeling tired. I can’t go sister’s house now too late. I stay with you?” Anna said as she put her hand on CB’s thigh.

“No Anna, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said CB.

Carl was getting visibly uncomfortable at this point and starting to sweat.

“You told me in cab you have two beds in room. Yes?” said Anna, pressing CB even more. “I just sleep okay? I sleep in other bed with clothes on. I not want sex with you. You thinking I want sex with you. I don’t.”

I could see Carl’s mind spinning, wanting to find a way to get his work colleague out of this horrible predicament with Anna. “We have a meeting at 9, remember?” he piped up, hoping this would help CB’s case.

“You told me in cab you have two beds. My sister live so far away. Can’t go tonight. I sleep in your room, okay? It’s good. I go home early morning.”

“Carl’s right, we have a meeting at 9. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Anna continued to touch CB’s leg, his arm, his face, and get more “drunk” and persistent. Carl had a look of desperation on his face at this point. CB was having a hard time keeping a straight face and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I “Anna” turned to CB and said, “Daahling. I think you tell Carl what’s going on now.”

“Carl, I’d like to introduce you to my girlfriend Kelly,” said CB. “She does a lot of improv, and she’s not really Russian.”

Carl just looked like he’d been hit with a two-by-four and looked at CB. “No shit!” he mumbled.

In the end we raised our glasses and toasted Carl for being such a good sport. I’m pretty sure he has yet to recover from being punked by CB and The Muse.

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Cabana Boy and The Muse do NYC: Part 2 (the flight)

Originally published on MySpace on November 7, 2008.

Cabana Boy (CB) and I had to rise before dawn to make our 7:49am flight to NYC on Tuesday morning. There was nary a mention of my Ford F-150 baggage that morning until we had to drag all of the baggage out to the car in the rain.

We drove to the airport in peace, and parked in the Back 40 (long-term economy parking), so named because you have to take a bus from the parking lot to the terminal.

We didn’t originally have seats together on our long flight from Portland to Washington D.C. You see CB actually has some clout with United so they put him in the Premier section, and put me in Row 16. When we arrived at the airport we informed the United desk clerk of our situation and she immediately said to me, “Would you like six more inches of legroom for $59?” WTF? That’s almost $10 an inch! Then she informed me that since I was basically considered a beggar on this flight (since I have no United clout) that I would also be charged a fee for the ONE bag I was checking. Excuse me? Then she decided to be nice and check my bag under CB’s name since he apparently can check as many bags as he damned well pleases. (CB would like to note here that his bag was small enough to be a carry-on and he had no intentions of checking anything until The Muse showed up with the bag that ate Manhattan).

“We don’t have any seats together right now, but you can check with the gate agent,” she said with a smile that said, you’ll be sitting in the back with some chatty 2-year old while your boyfriend is up front enjoying his extra six inches of legroom. Ha!

We walked to the gate, making a brief stop at the Coffee People kiosk to grab a couple of triple shot lattes before the flight. I approached the gate attendant to see if she could move me into the long-leg zone with CB, or move him back to the knee-binding zone with me. No luck getting me into the Premier section, so CB would have to sit in the back with me.

We boarded the plane and settled into 16A and 16B. I graciously gave CB my window seat since he graciously gave up his extra six inches to sit with me in the back. Unfortunately it turned out not to be such a gracious gift after all, as the woman in front of him immediately fully reclined her seat into CB’s knees as soon as the 10,000 foot ding sounded in the cabin.

Once we took off a flight attendant with a voice that could have put an ADHD 12-year old to sleep came on to announce the in-flight services. “Today we have food-for-purchase available. We have a blue box, a red box, a yellow box a green box. Coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine and cocktails for $6,” blah blah blah. We perused the in-flight magazine for the contents of the colored food boxes and settled on the “Right Bite” which contained hummus, pita chips, lemon-pepper flavored tuna (yeah it was stinky and bad), crackers, Lorna Doone shortbread cookies and a square of dark chocolate. It was basically the only box that contained any semblance of protein.

During the flight we amused ourselves by doing three things:

  1. Writing the first NYC blog by passing the laptop back and forth between us, made infinitely more challenging by the woman in front of CB who had fully reclined her seat.
  2. Doing the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine. I will admit that when I get on a flight I immediately look for a magazine that has a completely untouched crossword puzzle. There’s nothing more annoying than starting a crossword puzzle that’s half done. Having expressed this sentiment to CB, he decided to write a little note on the crossword page when we finished it. The note said, “Get over it!” pity the poor soul who gets that magazine next.
  3. And last but not least, we passed much of our light time hatching a plan to punk CB’s work colleague Carl.

Punking Carl deserves a blog unto itself (it’s coming). Suffice it to say that we spent at least an hour midflight trying to figure out how we were going to make poor Carl uncomfortable. You see, Carl has never met me, and in fact didn’t even know CB and I were dating, so I thought this a ripe opportunity for some improv of the highest order. Should I show up at a bar as CB’s long lost ex girlfriend from London? Should I be a Russian woman he shared a cab ride into the city with?

In the end we chose the scenario of the Russian woman that CB shared a cab ride in with and could now not get rid of…;^) Let the games begin!

To be continued…

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Cabana Boy and The Muse do NYC: Part 1

Originally published on MySpace on November 4, 2008.

Cabana Boy: Travels with The Muse

(This is a collaborative effort. The first paragraph is written by Cabana Boy, and the second is written by me, etc…)

“Who else is coming with us?” I asked as The Muse wheeled in the largest suitcase I’d seen in years – the expandable gusset already deployed. “You know we’re only going to be in New York for four days, the other day and a half we’re on an airplane.”

“I’m a girl!” I said, “I need shoes and bags and coats. What if the weather changes?” It was true. My bag was the size of Ford F-150 packed for a 6-month road trip with a family of five. I had packed 2-week’s (okay, well, maybe three) week’s worth of clothing for a 4-day jaunt to New York.

When I travel for business I like traveling light. No checked bags, get in, do the work, get out. The Muse looked a little sheepish and I quickly realized that her mobile Macy’s wasn’t worth picking a fight over. Besides, we had a king sized bed waiting at the Roosevelt Hotel and who knew what secrets this vault of hers would yield up?

Macy’s? Hmph! Nothing but Nordstrom and Sak’s Fifth Avenue in my bag! Well, except for the vintage black wool swing coat I bought at Value Village for $9.99. Hey! This coat once graced the racks of I. Magnin. It says so right on the tag. Anyway, back to the subject at hand: the size of my bag. Size matters when you’re going to NYC.

At The Muse’s recent Sex and the City movie party I was invited to come as Mr. Big – but that’s another story. Guys, just so we’re clear, the I. Magnin wool swing coat wasn’t in the bag, but worn on The Muse’s rather fetching shoulders. Note no mention has been made of the computer or the handbag. We weren’t traveling light; we were prepared for an all out assault.

You can’t wear black shoes with brown pants! I had to bring the black shoes, the brown shoes, the running shoes, the four dresses, seven tops, three hats, three purses (because you can’t carry a brown leather bag when you’re wearing a black and white dress), the red patent leather flats (because I just might not be able to wear the stilettos for more than a New York block). “Honey, do you have a problem with the size of my bag?”

“No, dear, of course not.” I replied. To be continued…

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So, I Was Rafting Down the Truckee River…

I spent the past week at my family cabin in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. The kids and I spent the first half of the week with my two sisters and my niece, and the second half of the week with a friend and her two kids.

One activity I haven’t done in many years is go “rafting” down the Truckee river. I use the term rafting loosely because it’s less like rafting and more like a slow float down a river with 50 of your drunken friends. I went once with my sisters early in the week, and then again with my friend and her two kids at the end of the week.

We arrived at the Truckee River Rafting check-in in Tahoe City at 2:15pm with a carload of people ready to raft the might Truckee River. We pulled into the parking lot and greeted the parking attendant who looked at me and said, “Weren’t you just here the other day,” to which I answered, “Yes, and I brought a new group with me this time.”

I sat there perplexed wondering why the guy remembered me. Was I obnoxious last time? Did I have toilet paper stuck to my shoe? Why would the guy remember me out of the hundreds of people that come through that parking lot every day?

We parked the car, grabbed some life vests and piled into the boat to drift down the river.

About halfway through the float a group of 20-something rafters came up alongside our boat and started a conversation. One of the drunken shirtless men in the boat looked at me and asked, “Are you Annika Sorenstam?”

For those of you who don’t know, Annika Sorenstam is a very well-known professional golfer. I knew who she was, but I had no idea how much I actually look like her.

Is this uncanny or what!?

I wore that Titleist hat on both rafting trips. I wore no makeup, which made me look even more like Annika.

When I told my sister Tracy, a big golf fan, what happened, she said, “They obviously aren’t big golf fans, because if they were they’d know that Annika is sponsored by Callaway not Titleist.”

So, now I know why the guys at the rafting drop off remembered me. They thought I was Annika Sorenstam!

Note: Annika actually has a place in Tahoe. I am also now the proud owner of a Callaway visor thanks to my friend Janet.

Technorati Tags: Annika Sorenstam, Rafting, Tahoe

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