This past year has been sort of crazy to say the least. The rampid COVID-19 doesn’t want to go away. I visit https://cdc.gov on a regular basis in hopes they will see a significant dip in the amount of new cases. Nothing too exciting – yet. If you don’t know about this map yet, it is pretty handy. You can even drill down into a state and see how things are going by county and even city. The link is here COVID Cases by Jurisdiction.
I talked with a Spanish doctor I know and she is all excited. She says the USA has stood up and offered a significant amount of money and effort in creating a new drug to help fight against COVID-19. Apparently there is only so many pills that can be made. And to top it off, if the pharmaceutical corporations involved push all in, they will be making this drug only which means other pharmaceutical corporations will need to step up to help balance the pharmaceutical needs across the world. It’s exciting times, lets hope this is a bell ringing cure and that people don’t play with viruses for a very long time. That is a political debate for another time.
I love the outdoors, in temperatures near or below 80 degrees F. Any hotter and it’s a race inside. I was pretty active trying to armchair a solve about Forrest Fenn’s treasure for the last year or so. It appears that some one from the eastern US side found that.
So since it is best not to go treasure seeking, I went ahead and created a treasure site called https://treasure-seekers.org. In there I am organizing the site as best as possible and researching the web for potentially viable treasure seeking adventures. I think I have found treasure tale that is mildly interesting, and the search area doesn’t seem to be that big. Problem is, it is not in the of Virginia. There ARE a few classic treasure seeking adventures within Virginia like the Beale Cipers and The Mosby’s treasure trove. Although these are great opportunities, the one that has caught my interest is a little more detailed . You know us treasure seekers. We don’t want to volunteer too much information.
Take advantage of the time spent at home
Since travel is limited I am forcing myself to complete a few tasks a day . I am sure many people have put something off and there the project, task or job sits. This is an excellent time to knock a few jobs off your self-inflicted “Honey-Do-This” list. Start small and keep a list .
Travelling ? make some plans, and tell someone
I need to formulate a plan for my boots on the ground adventures. I will be adding a list of necessities to bring with you if your planning some sort of treasure hunting adventure. The type of treasure hunting matters. Planning is everything, but your ability to carry all of the must haves may be limited. There are tons of things to think about. Here is an off the top of my head list of things you may need to think about:
The travel destination – Know as much about the area.
Treasure seekers may need to know the local and state laws along with federal laws. what are some of the private property owners in the area?
You choice of travel – This one may limit you ability to carry what you need. You could go by plane, car, train or other means.
Adventure to include knowing the culture.
Finding great food and a good place to stay that is safe and secure.
Adventure vs. the length of stay. You should try to plan enough time to enjoy the travel and not be in a rush. The day of travel and the day returning can be counted as travel days, if you manage to get anything exciting done during those days that is great !
Safety first. Make sure your choices of clothing, boots and outside apparel is sufficient for the climate you going to. You can go to several websites to research the daily average temperatures and the amount of precipitation they receive during the time you are traveling. Higher elevations can get REALLY COLD, even in the middle of Summer.
Tech-NO gadets. I always find myself over packing when it comes to electronics. I have some awesome camera equipment and I have to seriously ask myself, am I going to use, or have time to use this gear? If that gear stays home, I take the cell phone and a few battery packs instead so there is power in places where they be none. You may encounter areas in the wild where there is limited or no cell phone reception. It may be wise to invest in a good reliable handheld GPS unit.
Give your relatives or some one you are friends list your travel plans. They don’t have to be down right specific, but it is best if they are really close.
Travelling in pairs or more is great for safety reasons. The reasons for this are almost endless.
Wilderness necessities. Pack light, but bring the necessities. If a “what if” happens, the one time you use the item you will thank yourself many times for bringing it. Try to remember what is vital and what is nice to have. At a minimum I suggest adding a lightweight Life Straw water filtering device.
I will add more to this post when time permits. It’s getting late and I am up pretty early in the morning. Take care, be safe and enjoy your travels !
Some great traveling items when you are headed on travel. Here are the top travel items I had purchased.
In this post I will try to help people who will be traveling to think about some of the pro’s and con’s of doing so. Although these travel tips may not work for everyone, they worked for me. Your experience may differ and it is up to you to make your own decisions.
One of the first things about my travel was I wanted to plan this WELL in advance. Some times circumstances arise where you cannot plan out really far. I decided in November of 2018 that I wanted to go on a trip overseas from 02 March 2018 to 18 March 2018. I wanted to go to a city that was not too large, and offered enough sightseeing to keep me busy for the length of my stay. let me try to bullet all the highlights to make it easier to read.
Tips about the Airlines and Flight Travel
Do research on the flights to and from your travel destination. Google and other sites usually will show flights that are prone to delays and the typical delay times. Add that into your calculations when thinking about connecting flights.
Purchase a ticket that has ALL the outbound and inbound flights on one itinerary ticket. This means the airlines will be responsible for getting you to your destination should something go wrong. if you have multiple itineraries, this means if something goes wrong, you may be responsible for the affected flight change/costs. So, in a nutshell, one itinerary for the outbound flights and one for the inbound flights.
If the tickets are purchased well in advance, expect the original flight plans to change as airlines condense flights to save money.
Try to plan your flight with the least amount of flights / hops as possible. This will reduce the chances of missing connecting flights due to airline/airport delays.
Each airlines may have their own reservation number or record locator. Make sure you call each airlines and ask for these. Carry a small note pad with this information written down. Make sure you have the phone numbers of all airlines. For example, I had the USA based phone numbers and the overseas phone numbers for the airlines, to include the record locators, and reservation numbers.
Let people know of your travel plans. Give them airline name, outbound flight as well as inbound flight information. Give them the airline phone numbers. Give your point of contact the “record locator” or reservation code that the airlines give you so your point of contact can track your flights.
Purchasing and use of “tools” that will make travel less stressful
If you are traveling overseas, make sure you understand that the use of power and types of plugs will be different. You will be the foreigner and should consider that phrase when traveling. They may speak a language that you may not know or the language may slightly differ. Below in bullet format I will try to offer as many tips as I can about travel to an overseas country.
Your cellphone coverage may NOT work overseas. I use Smart Talk monthly plan and they do not offer any connectivity overseas via mobile phone. Verizon, I think works with the overseas company called Orange, and there is a possibility that your phone may work overseas.
I researched the properties of my phone. I wanted to know the frequencies and bands it used and to see how it would work with overseas phone carriers. My phone is unlocked but I wanted to make sure it was capable of working overseas. Then I used this site for my research : https://www.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/northAmericaLinks.pdf
I purchased a Holiday Travel kit for my phone. It offered a sim chip that could be broken down to the size I needed. It was a PAIN to get the SIM in there and to operate correctly, but in the end it worked well. I used a toothpick to assist the chip and a magnifying glass to make the effort less stressful. The Holiday phone kit I bought offered 10GB of data and was good for 14 days upon first use. In 14 days, I hardly put a dent in this plan ! Provide your points of contact this new phone number and let them know your primary number may be off while you are using this new number. Here is the specifics of the Holiday kit.
Orange Holiday Europe – Prepaid SIM card – 10GB Internet Data in 4G/LTE (data tethering allowed) + 120 mn + 1000 texts in 30 countries in Europe.
MAKE SURE the country you are visiting is on the list. Otherwise, wait until you are at your travel destination and purchase a kit there. Know the international dialing codes for calling within each country and for calling back to the USA. The overseas number I had was from France ( no big deal) so I had to know how to dial between France and Spain, as well as back to the USA.
I looked at all my electronics that I would pack for the trip. I ensured the devices I had or bought for this trip were good for 100-240 volts of power.
Each power adapter or electronic device SHOULD have the power ratings on them.
I knew I would be walking alot, and I wanted a shoe that was quite comfortable. I did some research on sneakers and this pair was the one I went with. It fit my style of walking, has a super thick pad inside and fit snugly for the size I purchased: New Balance Men’s MX608v4 Training Shoe
It could offer up to SIX full charges for my cellphone in a day. Some days I had this in my backpack and I purchased a six foot phone adapter cord so I could have the power pack in the backpack and the phone in my hand or pocket and it would constantly be charging. It was one of the best purchases for this and future trips. This unit comes with two SHORT cables and three inputs on the device. The unit can charge two devices at the same time. It has 2 USB plugs and a center plug which is a standard android plug. I used the standard android plug when the unit needed charging.
I purchased a rugged backpack that would carry most of the batteries and electronic devices that are not allowed in baggage that is checked in. I used this backpack which has room for a 17-inch laptop. it also has ample pockets and well made zippers. this backpack is what I carried through the streets of Valencia, Spain with minimal items, but included 2 lenses and a Canon Rebel t3i.
Although it says “TSA” you WILL need to remove the laptop from the bag for TSA security screen checks, even though the back opens up flat.
For traveling, my checked luggage bag with all my clothing and non-electronic items went in a travel duffel bag that had sturdy wheels. The maximum size the airlines will accept as standard luggage and NOT charge you a fee for excess baggage size is 62 inches. When you purchase a bag, simply measure the HIEGHT, WIDTH and DEPTH and add these up. Make sure you do it when the bag is FULL. I went with this bag since it was an easy color to spot and I could separate the clothing from the major compartment.
High Sierra Evolution Wheeled Drop Bottom Duffel Bag, Black/Zest, 30″
Its dimensions are 30 inches by 14 inches by 14 inches, which totals 58 inches. Well under the maximum allowed 62 inches for free baggage.
One last thing I did purchase was a hand held scale. I wanted to make sure I was under the weight limit of 50 pounds for the main checked in luggage. I also used the scale to measure the weight of the other bags I was bringing as carry on bags. It worked really well.
Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale, Rubber Paint, Temperature Sensor, 110 Pounds, Silver
Android Apps that made the travel experience to Valencia, Spain a success
Google’s Maps application
This was a super useful tool when traveling the streets of Valencia, Spain for the first time solo. When combined with a working cellphone and plan for coverage, the amount of bandwidth Google maps will use is very minor. It is a GPS device in your hand. There were only a few spots where I lost signal due to a lot of metal being in the area, but each day I was in Valencia, Spain, Google maps made my day when it would serve me up directions to get to my desination, provide hours the sight was open and offer reviews as well. I could “star” each location so I could find them on Google maps with minimal effort.
Google maps is a BATTERY HOG !!! Make sure you plan accordingly.
I simply purchased a hand held power pack to have enough power so my smart phone never ran out. The battery power pack is listed above.
It can make you a master of about ANY language it supports. I loaded up Google translate and I found a feature that allowed a “conversation mode”. You set two specific geographically located languages in Google translate and go into the conversation mode. There are three buttons. One for each language and an auto detect style button. Google translate will listen to your speech – talk slowly and clearly – and it will translate that language and the phone will speak the foreign language for you. It will also show text boxes for each language as well, so the phrases can be used multiple times and multiple ways. It makes it super easy to communicate with anyone, anywhere.
Note:It is best to try to hold the conversation in a quiet area where background talk will not disrupt your conversation. Google Translate can be a bit slow to react to your speech, so be patient, and again, talk clear and slow and it will work great !
That is about all I can offer for tips and tricks of traveling overseas, and my lessons learned. Should I think of anything else, I will add it to this travel blog post. I hope these lessons learned and tips will provide you some ideas that you can use or modify to your desires. Happy travels !
Today I woke up in the city of Valencia, Spain at 0630 to some one walking in high heels in the room above me. My immediate thought was it was a tapping at the door, but once my senses were good, I realized what it was.
I got up and decided that today I will cook a healthy breakfast. It consists of Egg Omelete, Sausage, Bread and a strong cup of coffee.
I am simply amazed at the incredible potent smells of spices coming from the sausage as they are being cooked. These sausages are a bit larger than the ones from the USA, but smell more potent than a large sausage like a Braut. Cooked, these look a vibrant pink color. I was skeptical that they were done, but even after 30 sec test in the microwave, they did not change any color. These sausages would be a BIG hit in the USA, in my opinion.
With the breakfast done, I prepare myself to leave the room for some of the day. I will bring the backpack. It will have my Canon Rebel T3i and a normal lens, as well as a wide angle lens. I have charged up 5 batteries, checked the remote shutter device and the tripod, should I need it.
Weather report for the day says its 10 degrees C and it may reach 19c near 1800.
It will be partly cloudy. Right now as I look outside, it looks overcast.
I may have to adjust the camera settings prior to leaving the room.
It is best to do so, in case there is a good photograph with a small window of opportunity that I do not want to miss.
As I write this, I will attempt to add links from Google maps, so you get a general idea of my travels and what I will go see.
Nothing beats actually visiting a location, but at least you will share an experience as I navigate the streets of Valencia, Spain.
The walk to Torres de Quart, one of the oldest towers in the city of Valencia. This is free to visit, but if you wish to go up within the tower, you will need to buy a ticket. From what I hear, most historical places are free on Sundays.
Google maps made it easy and before I knew it, the massive towers were right in front of me. I went to the front office and paid my 2 Euro to enter the remains of this massive wall. Its is 1000 and the Tower was opening. I got to see the keys the keys they use to open the wooden doors throughout this historical site.
After purchasing a ticket, you can leave the office, and immediately at the bottom of the stairs, go to the right while you are still on the property. There is a set of stairs that you must climb to get up to the first level.
At this first level, you can see many things, but there are more levels to go up.
A second staircase will bring you up to a walkway. I looked up, and I see that I am only halfway up the tower.
In front of me, I see a set of stairs forks near the top. I see a small door open to the right, so I decided to see where it leads to.
From here I take a look at the passages to the left and right of me. The entry to the left is guarded by a wrought iron framed door. The door to the right is a staircase down.
Looking into the door, it is dark but I can see there is a very tight staircase. It is a winding staircase and the entrance at the top finally gets me to the top of the tower.
From the Top of Torres de Quart, I can clearly see the horizon. The sun is trying to break through the clouds.
I look at my watch and I see it is after 1200. This afternoon there is supposed to be a chance of rain so I wanted to be inside the Prehistory Museum of Valencia should the storms come.
I decided to leave Torres de Quart after a hour or so. I tried to take as many photos of the horizon as I could, but when I am home, I will have to stitch the photos together to make the photographs look good.
Valencia, Spain day two March 7th 2018. time 1300, mostly clear, temperature 62F.
Today I woke about 0630 and I took a small nap to 0730. I then did the shower. I decided today was the day in which I was to find a breakfast shop and then after this, find a decent market to shop. I went downstairs to the hotel lobby and asked the front desk about a good market. It is down the street, about a 5 to 10 minute walk. I told myself that I may need to take two trips, to concentrate on the vital items first and maybe some heavy items, but to bring back enough food for two to three days.
I ate breakfast at about 0900 when the shop across from the hotel opened. I opted for a small meal, more of two pieces of cake filled with fruit and a coffee. The price came up to less than 5 euro. After I was finished I see that they brought out fresh eggs and other items behind the counter which is meant to be like a small buffet that is served by the staff. The price was less than 5 euro as well. I decided I could use that as a fallback if I did not find items I needed at a market. Once I was done, I thanked the staff at the shop and went back to the room. I emptied my backpack, just in case and started up google maps. Google says it would take about 5 minutes to get there and the market was open 0900 to 2100.
This market was pretty easy to find. In Google its is listed as Vidal. On the street and on the receipt, the name is Kuups. I walked around the block to make sure I was not at the wrong market. I decided to go in and look around. They had a lot of fresh pre-packaged items like in the photo. all what you see cost near 20 Euro and I was happy with that. I thought it would be more. I did look at other items but I knew my initial load would be a bit heavy. I think with three bags, the total weight was close to the backpack I carried through the airports – probably 25 (12kg) or more pounds.
I got back to the room and took everything out. I started to put the items in the fridge, and I noticed that in about a full day, this thing was not working right. I thought I heard the cleaning ladies and I asked them to look at the fridge. They said they would call some one. In about 5 minutes, I had a lady come up. She looked like management and did not speak much English. She was frustrated but I took out the google translate app and started the conversation. She basically said, maintenance would be right up to look at the item. In about five more minutes, they arrived and looked at the fridge. Yes, it needs replacing.
As I type this, the maintenance man has come in, and he has already removed the old unit. He is in the process of bringing in the new unit. Outstanding service, if it not already obvious. I am very pleased, as the meats I have will not last more than 3 hours if not in a cold fridge.
Project done in less than an hour. Perfect.
Besides going to the market once more, I will have to decide if I want to go sight seeing anywhere. I am finding google maps, with everything turned on is a blessing in disguise. It allows me to search for places on the laptop and pass these to the phone and I can navigate to the places without much worry. I also noted that this google maps will eat a lot of battery. This is why i will bring the battery pack. When it gets low, I will find a place to sit and offer it a chance to charge. This battery pack, a RAVpower, can charge a phone up to six times. It was down to 2 out of four lights, and it was fully charged overnight, the maximum time it was plugged in was 6 hours.
When the phone is better, I will then move on. I will create a list of places that I can go to all in one circle which will not take more than 1 km each way. If I see two or three places a day, in less than a week I will be able to see everything I have written down.
Google translate conversation mode is working great ! I managed to decipher what the manager said about the fridge, the maintenance man about the issue with the fridge and asking questions in the market for items that I needed.
I am fortunate the ladies behind the counter of the hotel speak decent English. All of them are very polite and have answered all my questions. I now know how to unlock the stove and use it without question. All I need is a few more items from the market.
Talking about the market, I decided to head back to the market once more. I understand this city is quite big, and it is packed with buildings and small shop all over Valencia. These shops are typically small, I would have to guess the size of most may be twenty feet wide and no more than forty feet deep. The look like a storage locker when closed up, and when open, bigger than a 20 x 20 (10m x 10m) unit as I know them in the USA.
I seen a garage that looks like a medium sized warehouse. Its pretty active in that area, so I imagine that this is more of what the USA offers as parking garage. It is across a busy street, and I decided to hold off my curiosity and keep moving.
A bus stops near the corner as I approach it and people come out quickly. Some more traffic comes from the crosswalk as it is green and safe to cross. I stopped, letting the chaotic motion subside. I look up, and I see near the road edge trees planted. I look up and notice they are Valencia orange trees. I take a quick photo and move towards the market.
I ended up buying a half loaf of freshly made bread, 5 liters of water, instant coffee, creamers and pepper. I asked where the salt was, and the man pointed to a 1 kg package. I asked if there was a smaller package and the answer was no. I decided to skip the salt.
Back in the room, I see that is close to 1300. I see that the fridge is cooling down nicely. I put the items away went to Google Maps to look over a possible path to navigate to see two or three sights in a day. I get messaged by my friend, and we hold a conversation in Whats Up for a few hours. I tell her what I have bought. Her only concern was that I clean the mushrooms completely before cooking. I snapped a photo of the cleaning tools neatly placed out on the balcony of my room, and she simply laughed.
The conversation faded, and so did my desire to keep my eyes open. The jet lag is fading fast but, I still feel the effects of it. I decided to take a nap. It lasted about three hours. I awoke near 1900. I decided to cook some pasta tonight, and have some vegetables that I bought from the market. Tonight I will have Spinach and Ricotta cheese ravioli in a tomato sauce. I will add Mushrooms and shredded cheese to the mix at the end. I will have the end piece of the bread to soak up the tomato sauce. I show my friend what I have created and she offers me a Bon Appetit.
Dinner was good, just the right portion. I was full, but not stuffed. I decided on pasta because I want alot of energy for tomorrow. I will be doing some sight seeing in Valencia Spain, and I may be walking close to 2 miles or more when the day is done.
I clean up my mess after a meal. I do what my late grandfather used to do when the grandmother was gone. Simply use one item of each, wash it at the end of the meal and house keeping remains simple. Keep the plate, bowl and utensils on the counter which will keep you from using more.
I researched a few more sights to visit here in Valencia, Spain. Tomorrow I will end up heading out for 0900 when most of the sight seeing places in Valencia open up as well as the shops.
This is the end of the long post of day two in Valencia, Spain. Day three will show some tourist sights within the city center of Valencia.
I lost a hard drive on an old server and I am want to recreate the Valencia posts as if they were original. So now, after I have found my journals and photos, I will post all days of my travel in Valencia Spain as close to the same as possible. It is VITAL to make a journal each day. Make notes and photos in one folder for each day. This way they are memories that will last forever. You will be happy you did. I am.
Departing Newport News for Valencia
This post will end getting photographs and editing before it is truly done.
I will provide two outputs for each day in the end. One will be long, one will be short.
I will provide links to both. At first, it will be the long posts, so I do not forget anything.
The Incredible Journey to Valencia, Spain Day One – March 5th 2018.
I woke near 0800. I had most things in order, but I attended to a few things before I had to depart.
I have not flown in quite some time. I think I should have done a few flights in the USA vice diving into a European vacation. My bags consist of a rolling bag that holds all the clothing for two weeks, and some small gifts for a friend who resides in Spain. That bag weighs close to 35 pounds, and its a bit heavy, but not overly so for a 12 day trip. The second bag is a rolling laptop bag which has an upper end laptop in it and a backpack. The laptop bag has wheels so it rolls along quite nicely. When I have to pick it up, I think it weighs close to 10 pounds. The most difficult of the three bags will be the backpack. I knew it would be best to throw in the Canon Camera, cables, all accessories like batteries, power cords. My personal laptop will be in this since I was bringing two laptops. So most of the techie things exist in the backpack. I grunted when I picked the backpack up. Full, it weighed close to 25 pounds. It doesn’t seem like alot, but in a long haul the weight may surely eat at my endurance.
My son was up and able to take me to the local airport. I arrived at the airport about one hour before my flight. The weather was mostly sunny, with temeratures hovering in the mid 50’s. There was still some breeze, the after a effects of a northeaster storm that pushed up the coast March 2nd 2018 and canceled thousands of flights along the east coast – including mine. That is why I am fliying today.
I asked my son if he could drop me off at the curb so I could at least get the luggage out, go to the check in counter, and getting that all started. He had no problem with it and parked the car and met me at the check in counter for the airlines.
I checked in the rolling clothing bag, and carried the other two towards the TSA gate. Since I have not flown in quite some time, I wasn’t absolutely sure what I could take or not take. I tried doing some research on the internet for specific items both for USA and international flights and got some answers, but not alot. I managed to get through TSA and I could look back and see my son waiting for me to give him the thumbs up. It took probably 10 minutes for me to dig everything out. Two laptops, the shoes, the belt, phone, keys, food, and everything else. Then, putting it all back and making it fit and not slide is always an event. But, everything went fine.
When we boarded, and I found my seat, I sat next to a lady from Maine. She came down to see her daughter who just had a third child. We talked about the trips and small talk. A Lady from Smithsfield Virginia named Leia I believe, who was on the flight as well, and asked some questions about a train leaving Madrid. I told her I did limited research on Madrid, and focused on my ultimate destination – Valencia Spain.
The Flight to Philadelphia was short and arrived in Philadelphia on time. The Philadelphia International airport is quite massive, but they do offer shuttle services and such. But, once I was on the ground in Philadelphia, I knew I had a long layover, close to six hours. Prior to the trip, I did some research on the places to eat within the airport. I will eventually get there. Now to spend some time walking and trying to be preoccupied six hours in the airport.
The flight into Philadelphia landed in the F termainal where most smaller commuter planes land. Looking at my flight schedule, I noticed that I was flying out of Terminal A. I groaned. I haven’t carried to much weight on my fragile back, so my immediate comment to myself was – this is going to leave some pain. I planned for some pain, I typically take Alleve 12 hour gel pills in preparation for this, but I know I will be uncomfortable at the destination of my lovely adventure, Valencia, Spain.
I opened up my notebook with some research notes and refreshed my brain as to what gates some of the wonderful food existed. I started walking in Philadelphia International airport, leaving gate F and ultimately ending in Terminal A. I kept my eyes wide open and looked at all the airport had to offer. News Stands, Burgers, Asian food, Shoe care stand, Victoria Secrets,….. wait, what? Hehehe. Yes in the Philadelphia airport is a smaller version of Victoria Secrets. I pulled out the phone and shot a photo the Victoria Secrets banner and sent it to a friend, asking her if she wanted anything from the shop. She says, OK. I ask, well, what do you want? She laughs and says she was joking. OK fine. Moving onward !
I stopped at a Fork in one the many paths I can choose, and I notice a USO sign on the wall. Oh My God. This means I can sit down in a safer environment and have some sort of rest, relaxation and maybe a small drink on the house? I decided to head that way. The USO is downstairs, below the main path of places to eat and shop. It’s close to an Irish Pub, but the name escapes me. If I can remember to come back to this post, I’ll add the info here.
Walking down the stairs, down the corridor and to the right is a USO check in area. Many people sat around and welcomed me and praised me for my years of service. Everything was explained to me about the establishment. One area holds a food area, and the other area down the hall has chairs for rest and relaxation, with board games and even a business center with the lights pretty well dimmed down. The back room has some game consoles and such. The Rest and relaxtion room (R&R room) itself has quite a selection of comfy chairs to take a burden off my feet. I stayed within the R&R room in the USO until it was about an hour and a half before my flight. As I headed out, I stoped and thanked everyone that was staff for the hospitality they offered. I then went in search my goal, a good meal from an establishment in Philadelphia International airport.
Prior to the trip, I did some research on the places to eat within the airport. I seen two places. One was a pizza establishment, Aldo Lamemberti Trattoria and the other was a sit down italian style place which was named Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar. What Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar offered was no where near what most call a typical small portioned, cold and nasty airport food. Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar food was actually really good and a decent sized portion. I highly recommend Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar located near gate C3/C6 in the Philadelphia International airport.
My waitress was a huge help. I wanted to pay cash, so with all things chosen, I paid her in advance and waited for the meal to come. It came out pretty fast. I managed to eat 90% of it and drink something I grabbed from the USO and the bill came up to near 18 dollars. I gave the waitress $25.00 and collected my items and started heading towards my destination gate going to Madrid.
I looked at my clock. It was close to an hour before the flight and I could see the staff check in people moving around quite quickly as if they were ready to start bording. Sure enough, they actually started pretty early. I asked the staff at the gate if military could board after priority people and I was given a thank you a nod and I was entering the aircraft.
On the 4th I actually changed my seat assignment to get a wee bit close to the front of the aircraft. I seen an aisle seat, within the four seat section which put me 5 rows from the first row in the economy seats. I put my bags away, sit down, and get a bit comfy when I hear the voice of someone. I look up and its the Lady from Smithsfield Virginia named Leia I believe. When almost everyone was in their seats, I noticed the aircraft at BEST was partially full. Now I understand why they limit flights like this. They’d go broke if they had to fly with the aircraft at 25% capacity. Leia and I ended up chatting some. I also tried to explain the usage of the Google Translate app that offers text translation along with voice – it even allows you to hold a conversation and will translate everything it hears.
Soon after the conversation with Leia, I noticed the flight was ready to go. We pulled out of the gate and got ready to take off. The take off was a bit turbulent, but nothing overly horrifying. At this point, I looked at my watch. I tried avoiding calculating how long this trip was going to take, but I had all night to think about it.
I was up at 0800 on the morning of March 5th. I knew if all went well, I would be landing in Valencia, Spain on March 6th at approximately 1300. I had to account for delays with the flights leaving late or bad weather and everything included. Add in the fact that customs/immigration could take some time too. I told myself, all in all – I think arrival in my room in Valencia Spain at 1600 on March 6 is an obtainable goal. So, that’s a total of 32…… wait ! I have to recalculate a bit. The departure time was in USA time and the arrival time was in Spainish time. So I took the total hours and subtracted the 6 hours difference. WHEW, its “ONLY” 26 hours of travel.
I don’t want to point fingers or get into all the antics of people do when flying overseas or for extremely long flights. In the past I have seen my share of this. The flight was long, as expected. Total distance from Philadelphia to Madrid was nearly 3700 miles. The airlines gave us dinner near 1800 and then about 2000 they dimmed the lights way down. Leia was extremely lucky. She had no one in the row of 4 seats and decided to get some well deserved rest. I stayed in my assigned seat, and tried to get as comfortable as I could. There was a brief period where I almost fell asleep, but we ran into a slight patch of turbulence that lasted 15 minutes, and I wasn’t able to get any sleep the entire night. That is OK though, since the night before flying, I forced myself to sleep as many hours as I could stand. I felt I was rested enough to make it all the way. Believe me, I had my doubts along the way saying, you know even after I get to madrid, I still have ANOTHER five hours before I am standing in Valencia, Spain.
Morning comes and alot of drowsy people and waking up. The flight eventually lands in Madrid. I honestly believe it landed a few minutes early. I grabbed my bags and headed out the plane walking within earshot of Leia as she explained catching up to college girls who were headed in the general area she was. This is where Leia actually offered her name in this story and it was done so as we were walking towards immigration / customs with a lot of noise and announcements going on. I see a Iberia counter and I decide to stop. I thought for a second, I’d end up losing Leia by doing this, but she may read about this post on my trip to Valencia. I hope her travels within Spain are awesome and her trip back to Smithfield is fast and safe as well.
I had my questions answered about the flight from Madrid to Valencia and I started to move towards Immigration. I was honestly surprised to see over 10 immigration gates open. Each line ended up having about 25 people in them, and the process only took 10-15 minutes. I told the officer I was headed to Valencia for a 2 week vacation and I would go back to the USA. He was pleased with the answer, and smacked a passport stamp within my Passport pages.
Through Immigration and looking for the K gates. It took about 15 minutes or so to navigate around to the right area, which included another TSA style baggage screening. OK FINE. This was pretty much the same thing, no issues, repacked a little slower and eventually found the K gates.
The four hour delay in Madrid went by quite fast, I was surprised. gate information in Madrid is much different than what I am used to in the states. The gates aren’t listed until an hour before your departure. When it was down to one hour, I looked for the gate number and headed that way. It was boarding passengers for a flight to “OPORTO”, or Portugal. I tried to approach the person and ask if the next flight was going to……. She says, right now I talk of Oporto! Not of Valencia. Oporto. OK Fine, I guess she had a bad day. hehehe.
The flight shows up on the monitors and I head that way. I look at the time and its pretty close to departure time and we haven’t even boarded yet. It was amazing to see how fast the staff changed check in crews, changed the sign and started checking in passengers for the flight to Valencia. It moved so quickly, I didnt even see the plane taxi up to the gate. Once I was on my way to board, instead of a boarding area directly into the plane, we had to go down some stairs and walked across the street onto the tarmac and boarded a plane that might have held about 30 or so people.
They noticed me with two bags, and they wanted to check the bag, until I ended showing them all, the laptop bag actually has a laptop in it. Once i boarded the aircraft headed to Valencia, I immediately noticed the over head bins were really small compared to most others I have flown. In the end, the seat was found, and baggage stored and we were on our way.
The Captain said it would have 45 minutes to get to Valenica from Madrid, but honestly, it felt like I was shot out of a cannon. Whatever time was lost when the madrid flight shared the gate, was easily made up. I landed in Valencia with some sort of expectation to go through a customs style service where they ask if I had anything to declare or were going to open up bags on a whim, but there was none of that. I simply departed the smaller plan on the tarmac, climbed down the really really skinny staircase, got on the tarmac and waled inside Valencia airport. I followed signs to the baggage claim which wasn’t difficult at all.
My first thought was – I’d be quite impressed IF my only checked bag was with me on that flight. I looked and seen my bag coming, and all I could do is shake my head. After a long adventure, my feet and all my luggage are with me.
I had booked a taxi though the hotel and I did not see anyone holding a sign with my name on it near the luggage claim area or immediately outside the area. I stood around for a bit but there was nobody but passengers and people greeting them. I followed the signs to where the taxi’s were stationed and I decided to go for it. I knew there would be a slight language barrier, but the man driving the taxi knew where I was headed. He packed up the bags and allowed me to sit in front with him, and He was playing some United States home grown jazz and blues. He spoke very broken English at best, and the ride was enjoyable. I turned on Google Maps to see the route he was taken, and it was a pretty direct route. He handed me a map for free which was English and Spanish, about the Festivals that are happening in Valencia and in General, all through Spain. We found the hotel, pulled my bags. The fare was 21 Euro, but he enlightened me on some areas of the city as we drove, that I ended up giving him 30 Euro for his hospitality. He helped take the bags to the check in counter, and I shook his hand and thanked him.
Check in at the hotel was fast and easy. I went upstairs to my room, hauling the three bags full for the last time at least until the end of the vacation. It was close to 1530, and all I wanted to do was check the electronics for any damage, unpack some of the clothing to get some wrinkles out and get some sleep.
So thats’s part one of the Incredible adventures to Valencia Spain. This post will probably by far be the longest, but time will tell. Stand by for more posts and photos as I navigate my way though Valencia Spain.
The Spring of 2019, I managed to complete a new picket fence around my property. The project was a push all in so I could enjoy my favorite kind of fence and upgrade the gate I use to get a trailer into the property on the side of the house.
The original gate was only ten feet wide and I always cringed when I was trying to navigate the truck and trailer into the backyard and then park in near the side of the house. Upgrading the fence gate was a pain, I have to admit. I had to crack the cement to get the old posts out and then dig pretty deep to get some 6×6 inch posts in. I decided on 16 feet wide since I typically approach the gate at a slight angle. This allows me to take a tighter turn and reduce the amount of risk of me sliding and clipping the corner of the house. Now, its easier and its almost a direct shot to the side of the house where the trailer is parked.
So, I went out to look over the fence line to see how it was holding up. Looking at the eastern side, where the gate is located, I noticed and remembered that the guy-wire on one side was down, and the other side, although the guy-wire was still up, it was loose. I wanted to experiment with the guy-wires to see if it would work on two eight foot sections of gate, and honestly, it did not. So over the past few weeks I decided to look for something to get that gate off the ground in a permanent kinda way.
A few days before Christmas, I was out and about looking for last minute gifts. Driving down a familiar road in the city, I seen that Northern Tool had a unadvertised special going on. Select items were at 50% off. I decided to go inside and see what they had.
I was looking for a trailer jack. The ones I was looking for had to have a wheel on the bottom and offer some type of support for me to mount them onto the fence gate, whether I use U-bolts or other type framing. I go inside and loom around. I see these…
I noticed the pink stickers, and that told me they were on sale. I was kicking the can. I was on the edge of purchasing these. Looking at the side of the package, I had no idea how tall the device would be with the wheels on, and whether or not it would mount well on the fence gate. I decided to pass on them for the moment, and I went to the truck to look these up and see the ratings. I sat in the truck and pondered for about 10 minutes. I decided, what the heck, worse case I just return them.
I go back inside and go to grab the remaining two and one of them is gone. UGH. I look around and I don’t see a sales rep anywhere. There is one at the counter checking people out, but there is a long line, probably 10 people deep. I wasn’t going to bother her…. Wait, a lady with a walkie talkie and a head piece in her ear wisks by. I asked if she worked here and whether they had another of these in stock. She gets on the radio passes the info to another person in the back. About 5 minutes later, out comes a guy with a box of three more. Cool. I grab two, pay and head out the door.
Fast forwarding to today, It is a wonderfully warm and soggy day outside. The last two days it rained, but the sun has broken through and it is 74 degrees. Perfect weather for me to mount these trailer jacks to the fence gate.
The first thing I had to do was take one of the jacks out of the box and bring it to the gate. I needed to see if I had to add more wood to support the trailer jack, and if so, how much and in which direction. I decided that the best approach would be horizontal, so that the top bolts would be supported by adding on a small section of 2×4 and then the bottom screws would go right into the bottom 2×6 board.
I used eight screws per 2×4 for added support, and then I added the trailer jacks. I used lag bolts from Lowe’s to secure the trailer jacks to the gate.
I took my time, and it took me about 2 hours for get the fence gate hardware mounted. I leveled the gate once I had everything done. I noticed that it was really wet and soggy, and the wheels sunk into the dirt a little bit. In the spring, I will add a thick concrete landing area for the wheels. It will have to be pretty thick and wide to keep it stable as the truck and trailer run it over, but that is an easy task.
It looks a lot better and level, and off the ground ! The jacks costs about $27.00 USD each and it will make the gate last a long time. Another do it yourself (DIY) mission complete !
Waffle House offers good food, fast. But it comes with a price
it’s a stressful environment at times. Waffle House Waitresses and Waiter jobs are stressful and fast paced.
On a typical weekend, I arrive at a local Waffle House about 10 am in the morning. It is always hit or miss on how busy the location is. I quickly scan the parking lot to see how many cars are there as I pull in. I park, get inside and look for my favorite waitress. I spot her, as she drops off a load of dishes near the dishwasher, tells the staff that those are her dishes.
She then washes her hands, she goes around to the silverware area and grabs napkins, silverware and prepares a booth for another party. She smiles, introduces herself, and takes their drink order. She takes a deep breath, and is off to the races again. Take a moment to see what a Waffle House Waitress and Waiter does to make you happy.
If you have been to a Waffle House, one day make it a point to see at what length the waitresses and waiters have to go through during your short stay. Most arrive close to 7 am and their scheduled departure is near 2 pm, but they are typically out the door closer to or past 3 pm. Near the end of the scheduled shift they have to clean the place up and tally up their ticket books which is a tedious project in itself. But that is not all they do…..
Typically they clean off the tables for the next guest, they each are responsible for their own dishes. They have to wait in line and call their orders in to the cooks. They bring you your drinks and take your order. They have to refill the orange juice containers when needed, refill ice, scrub pre-wash and then run the dishes through a dishwasher.
They have to wash any plates that the cooks use, including the egg pans. The trash cans don’t empty themselves out, so that is one more task that is done. They have to take orders over the phone and have time to check people out and offer a smile and ask how their visit was.
As the day grinds on at the Waffle House, hopefully the tips they earn are sufficient for the day. As additional people enter and leave, the chaotic cycle happens over and over again. In some of the Waffle Houses I have eaten at, they have this down to a fine science. Other locations, it seems they have less enthusiasm as the tips aren’t the greatest and the potential thought process is that why hurry when the reward for stellar performance is not going to be there in the end.
The waitresses and waiters won’t mention a thing about how much they get paid per hour. Its against the Waffle House policy. But if you are like me, you can find out anything by typing about it in your favorite search engine.
My Point is….. Tip the hard working Waitresses and Waiters at Waffle House !
In MY opinion, the ladies that I know that work at different Waffle Houses as Waitresses are underpaid, over worked and not tipped well. Like I said above, take that moment to pay attention how much activity these waitresses and waiters do in order to get a few extra dollars in tips. Tips are the livelihood of their job. Show the Waffle House waitresses and waiters some love and offer them a decent tip once in a while.
A few years ago, I decided to take a trip into the North center of pennsylvania to Cherry Springs State park. Its a dark park, meaning it is an ideal location where man made light is a a minimum.
My son, his girlfriend and I decided to take a 3 day trip to Cherry Springs and have a look at the stars in epic form. I brought a telescope, a lot of camera gear and clothing. We went to Cherry Springs over the 4th of July weekend. The days were in the mid 80’s and it was comfortable. The nights dipped down to the mid 40’s and it was a bit chilly.
I ended up staying up all night and took over 750 photographs. A lot of them I managed to thread together and put up a video on youtube showing the amazing photographs shot through a thin layer of clouds. For most of the night, it was partly cloudy, but a few hours before daylight, it turned clear and I could focus on some wide lens photography.
A FREE version of Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell. This is a log book or a journey through time where Osborne Russell allows some insight into his travels within the Rocky Mountains as a trapper. It is a very good book to read if you want to understand the hardships people had to endure when they were first to travel to the western United States.
I have found a good link to download a copy of the “Journal of a Trapper” by Osborne Russell.
Its a live link from Google. It is the PDF version. Journal of a Trapper Nine years in the Rocky Mountains 1834 -1843 by Osborne Russell.
Forrest Fenn read Journal of a Trapper many times.
The Journal of a Trapper had to be important. In The Thrill of the Chase under the Looking for Lewis and Clark Chapter, Forrest Fenn said:
A few years later, when I was sixteen, I read a book titled /Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell, who travelled along the Madison River in 1835, just outside of west Yellowstone where Hebgen Lake is now. Russell, along with a few of Jim Bridger’s trappers, was attacked by eighty Blackfeet Indians near where Hebgen Dam would be built nearly a century later. After a brief flght, Russell escaped west toward Stinking Creek.
When closing the Looking for Lewis and Clark chapter Forrest Fenn wrote:
Over the years I’ve read Journal of a Trapper a dozen times, and always with a deeper appreciation for who Osborne Russell was and what he did. The mountains continue to beckon to me. They always will.
Although Journal of a Trapper may be a bit hard to read at times, you can find locations on a modern day map that pinpoints where Osborne Russell actually visited. As a matter of fact, on Forrest Fenn’s own website, he posts ” google Osborne Russell, google Hebgen Lake. That entry can be found HERE. Note that on July of 2019, the pages located on the resource site have changed dramatically.
BUT WAIT ! If the chapter name is “Looking for Lewis and Clark” why are we centering our attention around Osborne Russell and Hebgen Lake ? Make me wonder…