Category: travel

A Lonely Lighthouse

With our vacation coming to an end tomorrow, thought I’d write a little about some of the places we visited. For fun, I’ve decided to write about these places in no particular order. And I wanted to begin with a lonely lighthouse: the Presque Island Lighthouse.

The Presque Island Lighthouse, Est. 1873

One of the first thing I learned upon entering the lighthouse was that I’d been mispronouncing Presque Isle. This is what happens when your only experience with the name is through maps. I’d been pronouncing it “Press-key”. Actually, it is pronounced “presk.” The lighthouse rests along the southern shore of Lake Erie. It is amazing how much like and ocean the lake looks like from the shore.

Canada is about 26 miles across the lake, which I think is the same distance as the English Channel, but I am too lazy to check this at the moment. The light from the Presque Island Lighthouse can be seen for 13 miles. As it happens, a companion lighthouse on the Canadian shore to the north can also be seen at a distance of 13 miles. So ships in the middle of the lake can see both lighthouses as they pass by.

The first lighthouse keeper felt that it was too lonely out there by himself on Presque Isle. The longest resident lighthouse keeper lived at the lighthouse for 26 years, from 1901 to 1927. Interestingly, he retired when the island became too busy with tourists. Apparently, he enjoyed the lonely lifestyle, the mile long walk to the bay, and the canoe ride to shore when he had to reach the mainland. (Today, the island and lighthouse is reachable by road.)

Without it ever being tacitly agreed, visiting lighthouses has become a theme of our road trips. We’ve visited several lighthouses in Maine (most recently the Portland Head Lighthouse), a lighthouse in upstate New York, the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida, a lighthouse in Mystic, Connecticut. It makes for a nice little collection that we look forward to adding to on our trips, a special kind of souvenir.

We all made the 78-step climb to the top of the lighthouse to see it demonstrated. (Today it uses an LED bulb.) There was a spectacular view of Lake Erie from up there.

Lake Erie, looking north

I like visiting places like the Presque Island lighthouse. It didn’t seem that lonely to me. It seemed peaceful.

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Where In the World Is Jamie Todd Rubin?

I’m interrupting these regularly scheduled posts to drop a quick note from our road trip vacation. Today, we are here:

I’ll have more to say about our trip in the days to come but so far we are having a great time.

Now I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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Back from Pittsburgh

I have been in Pittsburgh for work since Tuesday. My days have been long (between 12-13-1/2 hours a day) and I haven’t had any time to write here. I got back home late yesterday afternoon, and was so sleep-deprived that I was completely out-of-sorts. After a good night’s sleep, however, I am feeling back to myself again. I noticed that Kelly has the new house looking completely unpacked and setup. All that’s left to unpack is the other half of my office.

I had a view of this church during my stay in Pittsburgh this week. I desperately wanted to get to a game at PNC Park. Wednesday looked like the prime night, but I ended up working late. When I got to the hotel restaurant, the Pirates were losing 7-1. But they came back and won 8-7 so that would have been quite a game to be at.

There is also a small bookstore that I meant to get to around the corner from where I was working–Desolation Books. I didn’t make it there this time, but hope to get back there the next time I am in town.

I Have Arrived in Los Angeles

It’s my first time back to L.A. since 2011, and I’m finding it to be a very interesting experience. For those who don’t know, I lived in L.A. for nearly 20 years between 1983 and 2002. I used to come back for work more frequently, but haven’t been back for a while now. Having lived back on the east coast for the last 12 years, I’m noticing all kinds of things about L.A. that I think I just didn’t see when I lived here. Enough, perhaps, for an entire blog post…?

I won’t post the “picture from my hotel room window” because in Santa Monica, it would inevitably look out onto an anonymous apartment building and pool1. Instead, here is a picture of inside my hotel room:

Hotel Room

It is not the hotel I usually stay in when I come to L.A. for work, and being the orderly creature of habit that I am, I find it slightly disconcerting and am therefore more likely to mock it. But it’s right around the corner form the other hotel, and still within a short walk to the office… which means it is also a short walk to the ocean.

Even though it is almost 10 pm EDT, I have dinner plans with a good friend from high school in about an hour. Since I was up at 6 am EDT that makes this one of those looong days. But at least I got my writing done.

Tomorrow is the beginning of two very heavily scheduled days, so if things get a little quiet around here, please cut me some slack.

  1. See what I did there?

Hertz and JetBlue: 3 good customer service experiences in one day

Before it slips my mind, I should mention the series of events from Monday that led to three good customer service experiences. The family was up early on Monday and we packed the Little Man and Little Miss into the car with all of our luggage and made the drive from Newport, Rhode Island to Boston, Mass. We pulled into the Hertz at Logan airport and, as usual, one of their people came by to check out the car and give us our receipt. I was about to unload the kids from their car seats when the fellow says, “Would you like a ride to your terminal in the car so that you don’t have to unload?”

“Sure!” we said.

So he got us a driver and we piled back into the car. The driver took us right up to the curb outside the JetBlue terminal and helped us with our luggage, too. We avoided having to get all of the luggage out of the car, as well as the kids, loading it all onto the shuttle bus and then waiting for the various stops until we got to ours. It probably saved us 30-40 minutes. Way to go Hertz!

Once inside the terminal, we headed to check-in where, as it turned out, there was no line. We checked our bags and retrieved our boarding passes and then headed to security where there were lines. However, we didn’t even reach the line when one of the security people took us aside and led us up to the front so that we could zip through with the kids and our luggage. This helped save some time as well. Nice job, Boston TSA!

Finally, we got to our gate and discovered that our flight was delayed about 40 minutes. The cheerful gate agent (dressed up as a hippie for Halloween) asked if we wanted some animal crackers for the Little Man to keep him happy while we waited through the delay. When it was finally time to board, they took us right away.

The entire day was made easy because of these folks at Hertz, TSA and JetBlue going just a little above and beyond for us. This was our first trip traveling with both kids. We’ve heard some nightmarish stories, but these folks helped make our return trip painless.

And there is a postscript! Ultimately, our JetBlue flight was delayed about an hour. Late yesterday afternoon–without any prompting on our behalf–we each, Kelly, the Little Man, and I, received an email for a $25.00 credit on a future JetBlue flight. The email apologized that our flight did not go as planned. Now, $25 may not sound like much, but keep two things in mind: $25 x 3 = $75; and I think we paid $49 each way for our tickets, so it represents a 50% discount on our flight.

That’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Travel day… with 2 kids

It would seem that I didn’t post yesterday and I hope you will forgive me for that. Yesterday was a travel day. We headed up to New England for a wedding this weekend. It was also the first time traveling with both kids. The Little Man is an experienced traveller by now. Far more than I was at his age. Yesterday’s flight marked his 15th time on a airplane (by my count) and so it was old school to him. But we also had the Little Miss and lots of luggage and that added to the complications.

Confusion started the night before. We were trying to figure out what time to leave the next day and I was basing my estimate on the fact that we were leaving out of Dulles airport, about 25 minutes from our house. When I went to check the status of the flight, I noticed that the outgoing flight was out of National airport and not Dulles. I had a momentary panic: I thought perhaps I’d booked us out of one airport and returning to another. But it turns our National airport was our airport both ways. I had just completely forgotten about it. That meant we didn’t have to rush quite as much because we live only 15 minutes from National.

We took a lot of stuff with us. A garment bag, containing my suit and Kelly’s dress. A suitcase packed to the gills with the rest of our clothes and clothes for both kids. We had 2 strollers and a car seat for the Little Miss. We each had a backpack and Kelly also carried a diaper bag.1 We left the house at 9:45am and made it through security to our gate by 10:40, about an hour before our flight was scheduled to board.

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  1. In all of this, something is bound to get forgotten. And indeed, it wasn’t until we were on the airplane that I realized I hadn’t packed a tie.

Delayed a couple of hours on my way to Readercon

I woke up at 4am and discovered that my flight to Readercon had been canceled and I had been automatically rebooked on the next flight out of Dulles. I was originally supposed to depart at 12:30 and now my flight is scheduled to leave 2-1/2 hours later at 3pm. That gets me into Boston at 4:30, just in time for rush hour traffic I imagine. If all goes smoothly, I hope to be at the hotel between 5:30 and 6pm. That’s not too bad, it will allow me to check in, and grab something to eat before my first panel at 8pm.

“First panel” has a double-meaning in this case. Not only is it my the first panel I’ll attend at Readercon 22 (my third Readercon overall), it is the first panel EVER on which I am a participant. I’m excited about that.

And while I am disappointed that I’m not going to get up the convention hotel as early as I’d planned, I’m trying to take it in stride. I plan on leaving for Dulles around noon, heading into the Red Carpet Club once I’m through security, having a beer (in honor of #marygoround–one drink each time Mary Robinette Kowal is delayed) and getting some more writing done.

ETA: I’ve been rebooked on a 1:30 US Airways flight out of Reagan. So I” only an hour behind schedule.

Homeward bound

I’m inboard my flight back home just waiting for everyone to finish boarding before we depart. My seat was changed to an even roomier emergency exit row.

Still not a great night’s sleep last night but I’m happy to be heading home and seeing Kelly and the Little Man. I’ll probably be spending most of the flight reading the August 1940 Astounding which is good since I didn’t have much time to read during the week.


Travel day

I head to Los Angeles this morning and by the time this post goes out I’ll be more than 40 minutes in the air. This was a last minute, work-related trip. I’m taking the early flight out because it gets me to LAX around 9am and I can get into the office by about 10 giving me a nearly-full day. That is above and beyond the work I have to do on the plane.

I hated saying goodbye to the Little Man last night. He just got back from a trip of his own on Thursday and now I’m heading off for 4 days. It’s getting harder and harder to leave him behind, to say nothing of Kelly.

The flight is less than half full and that means a quick boarding and maybe a little extra room.

Back with you on the west soon…

Coming to L.A. (again)

I had thought that my trip to L.A. at the beginning of March was the last trip I’d take to L.A. for about a year. But it turns out I’ll be back there again–and in less than two weeks. I have to be in Santa Monica for 2 days of work meetings, Thursday and Friday April 28-29. Not an ideal time with Kelly well into her second trimester and leaving her to take care of Zach for a few days all on her own again. But I’m making the trip as short as possible. I’m flying out on Wednesday and flying home early Saturday.

That means two endless flights across the country.

On the positive side, however, I may get the chance to see friends that I don’t see very often.

Santa Monica, then and now

Santa Monica.jpeg

I started working in Santa Monica nearly 17 years ago. I worked there for nearly 8 years, making the 20 miles commute from Studio City each morning and backtracking each evening. Then I transferred to our Washington, D.C. office, which is actually in Arlington, VA. At first, I returned to Santa Monica frequently but as time passed, those 5 or 6 trips/year evolved into one trip per year. As the intervals grew longer, Santa Monica changed more and more each time I visited.

Used to be that I worked in a building built in the 1950s. My office, on the 4th floor faced the West Side. I could see the Getty Museum atop Sepulveda pass, and the building of Culver City, and all of Brentwood and various neighborhoods sprawled out before me. If I leaned back in my Aeron chair and looked across the hallway, I could see the Pacific ocean, always there, so much so that I never really thought about it. That office building was old and dusty and looked its age but its guts were a wonderful collegiate atmosphere that reminded me of the buildings of my university. I recall fondly my morning walks to the McDonald’s  on Colorado and 2nd when it was still dark and the wind blew though the palm trees.

Now that old building is gone, replaced by something much more corporate and not quite as close to the ocean. Next door, the empty lot that housed the old building still remains, fenced off, desolate, a memory cast in dirt and weeds. When I walk by it, however, I can see the ghost of the building still standing, as if shrouded in some coastal mist.

The McDonald’s is long gone, the original structure torn down and rebuilt into something more modern, an avante garde Micky Dee’s. The Philly Cheesestake place next door is gone, too, replaced by a health shake establishment. The pier looks the same. The pier never changes. But the courthouse and the seat of city government is all new. Modern structures flashing with neon replace flat parking lots. The big mall across Colorado was torn down and then rebuilt into something utterly different. Gone are the places a dozen of us would go for our daily lunches, the lot of us together, talking about work and life. Gone are the big group lunches, too. They seemed to die out with the old building.

It’s strange to think of a city aging, but 17 years is a long time for things to stay the same. In many respects, Santa Monica is an old friend that has aged before my eyes.

And I imagine that when I arrive on my annual visits, she thinks the same thing of me.

I am on a plane to L.A.

Assuming everything is on time this morning (as I am writing this last night), I am on a plane to L.A. as you read this. Since I’m flying United and United doesn’t have Internet access the way AirTran does, I am in an Internet blackout until about 10am Pacific time. In my absence, let me ask you:

Did your movie/actor/actress win an Oscar last night?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

(Or better yet, go read the lastest episode in my vacation in the Golden Age.)