Author Topic: "Holiday Road" - The Official Vacation Thread  (Read 148337 times)

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Offline Natsinpwc

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U of Alabama Huntsville has a hockey team. It's for all those old Germans and Yankees to support.
It’s not rocket science. 

Offline Count Walewski

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U of Alabama Huntsville has a hockey team. It's for all those old Germans and Yankees to support.

They literally play in the Von Braun Center!

Offline English Natsie

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  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...

Offline imref

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if you haven't seen October Sky, I highly recommend watching it.

Offline Ali the Baseball Cat

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Another reason I love flying:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2024/03/25/why-farts-gas-smell-bad/

Why do so many people pass gas on planes?
If you’ve been on a flight recently, you’ve probably noticed an increase in gas production — whether personally or because you’ve been seated next to a guilty party.

This behavior is attributable to the laws of elementary physics. With increasing altitude, air pressure — including intestinal air pressure — falls. According to the ideal gas law, the volume of your intestinal gas will expand. Since a small muscle called the ileocecal valve prevents that gas from traveling backward from your colon into your small intestine, it has little choice but to move forward and outward (it also probably doesn’t help that 50 percent of cabin air on airplanes is recirculated).

Offline varoadking

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Another reason I love flying:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2024/03/25/why-farts-gas-smell-bad/

Why do so many people pass gas on planes?
If you’ve been on a flight recently, you’ve probably noticed an increase in gas production — whether personally or because you’ve been seated next to a guilty party.

This behavior is attributable to the laws of elementary physics. With increasing altitude, air pressure — including intestinal air pressure — falls. According to the ideal gas law, the volume of your intestinal gas will expand. Since a small muscle called the ileocecal valve prevents that gas from traveling backward from your colon into your small intestine, it has little choice but to move forward and outward (it also probably doesn’t help that 50 percent of cabin air on airplanes is recirculated).

It's a shame they banned lighters in the cabin...

Offline English Natsie

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  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...
We will spend the next six days cruising the Yellowhammer State in a 5,000 pound Jeep Gladiator:


You have to admire the audacity of the Jeep marketing team - they sell you a Jeep with no roof, side panels or doors and call it 'the only open-air vehicle on the market...' :D

If only Jeep could stop trying to make their Jeeps look like baby Humvees... ;)

Offline varoadking

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U of Alabama Huntsville has a hockey team. It's for all those old Germans and Yankees to support.

Our Daughter/SIL/Grandson went to a game there a few weeks ago.  He has family that lives in Huntsville.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Tribute to the German influence. I can imagine this is popular in Huntsville among the old folks.

Offline Count Walewski

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Today while driving from Huntsville, AL to Birmingham, AL, I stopped for a few hours in the small town of Oakville, AL, the home town of Jesse Owens. I learned so much about Jesse Owens from the museum.

There was a 45 minute video about Jesse Owens there, narrated by the man himself. It is full of actual footage of the 1936 Olympics, which I had never seen before except for brief clips. In all of Jesse Owens's running events, he either wins by a huge margin or the only people who get close to him are other Americans. His 4th gold medal came in the relay. He was the first runner: by the time the 4th American runner crosses the finish line and wins, the USA is so far ahead that no other athletes are visible. We dominated those events. Only in the jump did the Germans get close to Owens.

Some Jesse Owens facts I learned:

- the silver medalist who Owens beat in the 200m was the older brother of Jackie Robinson
- during the ticker-tape parade in New York after the Olympics, a stranger handed Jesse Owens a paper bag. He thought it contained a sandwich. It turned out to contain $10,000 in cash. Owens never found out who gave him that.
- Despite the $10k in cash, Owens had to race against horses in exhibition races to raise money to pay his remaining tuition at Ohio State
- During World War II, Owens helped run a Ford factory in Detroit that was making vehicles for the war. He was the director of personnel and his duties included everything from mediating negotiations between labor and management to helping workers find housing

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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could you imagine Jesse Owens in the NIL era? Also pretty interesting that he had the personnel management role in a Ford factory during the war. Such was his stature that even with the bigotry of the time he was able to get everyone to respect and listen to him.

Offline Count Walewski

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We wrapped up Alabama. In six days we saw a decent chunk of northern and central Alabama: Huntsville, Scottsboro, Decatur, Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuskegee, Tuscaloosa, and a few small towns and rural attractions inbetween.

When we told people in the DC area that we were going to Alabama, many of them asked us "why" - and when we were in Alabama and told people we are from DC, many of them also asked us "why." But there's a lot to see and do in Alabama, the people live up to positive southern stereotypes about friendliness, and people didn't really live up to the negative southern stereotypes, at least not in the big cities and interstate corridors were mostly stuck to.

Alabama has a ton of civil rights museums, all the major cities seem to have at least two. We mostly stuck to places where events actually happened rather than museums: we toured the 16th Street Baptist Church that got bombed by the KKK, we walked through the public park where Bull Connor used dogs and hoses on protestors, we visited the bus stop where Rosa Parks got on board her bus. If you can get to Tuskegee, the airfield where the Tuskegee Airmen trained is still preserved as both a museum and a working civil aviation airport and was super cool.

There's Confederate stuff but nowhere near as much as you'd expect. Overall, I spent a similar amount of time in Indiana a few years ago and saw way more Confederate flags in Indiana than in Alabama, as little sense as that makes historically and geographically. The most, ahem, "unreconstructed" place I visited was the First Confederate White House in Montgomery (which Jeff Davis lived in for 2 months before the Confederate government left for the more prestigious state of Virginia) and it was much better than the Confederate White House in Richmond in terms of artifacts and restoration. Northern Alabama (Huntsville and thereabouts) and Tuscaloosa both voted against secession and the locals are very eager to tell you that. There's actually a town in northern Alabama named Grant and it was founded during the Civil War by Alabamans who admired U.S. Grant.

Birmingham is no longer the biggest city in Alabama, but it feels the biggest. It feels like an urban area. It once produced 25% of all US iron, then completely lost that industry, and has rebounded nicely due to having a STEM-focused university in UAB. Huntsville is now the largest city but it feels, idk, like what Fauquier County will be in 20 years: mountains and defense contractors. It feels like a big suburb rather than a city. Montgomery feels the most southern of anywhere we went and was also by far the most overtly religious place.

Tuscaloosa reminds me of Norman, OK: both places have nowhere near enough tree cover for how hot they get. UA and OU are similar architecturally. I was surprised at how little the Alabamans I met talked about college sports: they're not nearly as obsessed with this as I expected them to be. If I hadn't been checking the news on my phone, I wouldn't have any clue that Alabama was making a deep March Madness run or that the football team has recently had a few big recruiting wins.

Both airports I went to (Huntsville and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth) were nice, clean, modern, and with minimal lines.

Offline wj73

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Great travelogue as usual, Count. I definitely would have been in the, “Why are you going THERE?” group. It sounds like there’s a lot more happening in Alabama that I would have thought. Thanks so much for writing it up, especially with your observations on stereotypes vs reality.

Offline Count Walewski

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Now I am in Plano, Texas, where earlier this afternoon I witnessed the total solar eclipse. The Dallas area was cloudy but Plano got some of the best weather in the region and we had zero clouds during totality. We're in town for a few days on either side of the eclipse: we did Fort Worth and its stockyards yesterday and we will do some museums in downtown Dallas tomorrow.

This is the first trip where instead of doing a regular car rental we did Turo, which is like Airbnb for cars. Our Turo pickup at DFW airport could not have been easier: we picked the car up from the airport parking lot, got the key out of a lockbox that was attached to the window, and got on our way. It's so easy in fact that DFW has banned Turo from operating there and we were among the last people in the world to ever pick a Turo car up at DFW: our reservation got grandfathered in because we made it before the ban. I assume legacy car rental companies had something to do with the ban.

I'm sure I'm years behind the rest of you on this, but this is also the first hotel stay I've done with no physical keys. I just have a digital key on my phone and use a signal on my phone to open the door. I didn't need to interact with a human to check into my Home2 Suites by Hilton. Which was good because we checked in after 8 PM and there was no human at the front desk.

I had previously only been to Dallas for work and never really explored the area outside of downtown Dallas. I had no idea there were so many big lakes here. It's a lake region. We did some nature trails by the lakeshore and saw tons of wildlife and we could have easily gone boating or fishing if the weather had been a bit better or we had been here longer.

One last thing: I went to Buc-ees for the first time yesterday. It is absolutely amazing, a temple to the plenty we enjoy as American consumers. I am having trouble articulating with mere words what a transcendent experience Buc-ees is, I urge you to go to one and see for yourself.

Offline RobDibblesGhost

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Watched the eclipse from near Hot Springs, Arkansas today. It was freaking awesome. We booked a room nearly a year in advance and got a good rate - many hotels were charging $400 or more a night. Went into the town and National Park area yesterday. Tons of people but traffic wasn’t horrible (coming from someone who commutes in NOVA). The weather was beautiful after initial forecasts last week didn’t look great (though we’re now getting 2-3” + of rain overnight which sucks for folks camping out). Viewed the eclipse from a really scenic overlook about 30 miles west of town, the last four on gravel roads, on National Forest land. Lots of people but not as packed as the major cities were. The overlook had 360-degree views from top of a ridge overlooking a large lake to the north so the 360-degree sunset was amazing and the temperature drop was really noticeable. Hard to believe a year of planning was over in a matter of minutes but it was so worth it.

Recommend 10/10 if you ever get the opportunity.

Offline Natsinpwc

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Glad you guys had fun.  Also fun that Dallas finally got a ring today.

Offline imref

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Watched the eclipse from near Hot Springs, Arkansas today. It was freaking awesome. We booked a room nearly a year in advance and got a good rate - many hotels were charging $400 or more a night. Went into the town and National Park area yesterday. Tons of people but traffic wasn’t horrible (coming from someone who commutes in NOVA). The weather was beautiful after initial forecasts last week didn’t look great (though we’re now getting 2-3” + of rain overnight which sucks for folks camping out). Viewed the eclipse from a really scenic overlook about 30 miles west of town, the last four on gravel roads, on National Forest land. Lots of people but not as packed as the major cities were. The overlook had 360-degree views from top of a ridge overlooking a large lake to the north so the 360-degree sunset was amazing and the temperature drop was really noticeable. Hard to believe a year of planning was over in a matter of minutes but it was so worth it.

Recommend 10/10 if you ever get the opportunity.
the next one is in Florida from what I heard.

Offline Dave in Fairfax

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If you are making vacation plans, here's where to go on August 12, 2026:


Offline Natsinpwc

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Spain might be fun although I assume it would be stinking hot and no air conditioning in most places.  It also passes over Iceland. 

Offline imref

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Spain might be fun although I assume it would be stinking hot and no air conditioning in most places.  It also passes over Iceland. 
we visited Spain in July of 2023. It was brutally hot (high temps in the 110s in several places) , but it's still Spain.

Offline Count Walewski

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There's also a total solar eclipse over Egypt, North Africa, and the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia in August 2027. The temple of the sun god Amun-Ra at Karnak in Luxor is smack in the middle of the totality zone and is only 30 miles or so away from the point with the longest totality. I'm very tempted to go to Egypt for that.

My wife wants to donate our eclipse glasses to charity and I joked that, no problem, I'm sure some Egyptian guy will have "special price for you, my friend" on new eclipse glasses in 2027 for us.

Offline 1995hoo

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The 2027 eclipse will also be visible from Gibraltar, which seems like it might be a very cool place to see it but for one problem—because of the border crossing, getting to someplace else on short notice if weather is an issue would be a problem. The other place the 2027 eclipse will be visible from that would be very interesting to see is, unfortunately, off-limits: Mecca. I’d love to get a picture of a total eclipse over the Grand Mosque.

The July 2028 eclipse will pass directly over central Sydney. It will be six days before our anniversary, so my wife and I are thinking about making it an anniversary trip.

Offline Dave in Fairfax

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The only eclipse I can remember directly experiencing was in Bratislava, Slovakia, of all places.

Offline Ali the Baseball Cat

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Could have been the slivovica?

Offline Ali the Baseball Cat

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Right over Ibiza
If you are making vacation plans, here's where to go on August 12, 2026:

(Image removed from quote.)