Author Topic: "Holiday Road" - The Official Vacation Thread  (Read 164376 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Natsinpwc

  • Posts: 26701
Ready to board a red eye back to Orlando.  Beautiful day in Seattle. Not a cloud in the sky and  high in the upper 70s. Great view of Ranier on the way to the airport. Now back to fhe heat, humidity and afternoon deluges.



Online JCA-CrystalCity

  • Global Moderator
  • ****
  • Posts: 42325
  • Platoon - not just a movie, a baseball obsession
Ready to board a red eye back to Orlando.  Beautiful day in Seattle. Not a cloud in the sky and  high in the upper 70s. Great view of Ranier on the way to the airport. Now back to fhe heat, humidity and afternoon deluges.



If you do manage to get a clear view south, Ranier from Seattle and going back to Sea-Tac is kind of awesome. It's like, ho-hum, I'm on this regular old highway, not like it's a valley or near a mountain range, and you look south and there's this big snow-capped mountain right in front of you, by itself.

Offline wj73

  • Posts: 819

Did a whale watching boat trip in the Bay of Fundy yesterday, north of Nova Scotia. Saw minke, fin, and a humpback. But then, a huge (literally) surprise - a blue whale!!! The boat Captain and crew were beside themselves-a blue whale has not been spotted there since 2005!


That whale was a magnificent sight to see. So huge and awe inspiring.  It was only a couple of hundred feet away from the ship, and swam alongside us for several minutes, so we got a good look.


Truly an amazing day. Blue whales are largest creature to have ever lived on this earth. Bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. I feel very very fortunate to have seen such a sight in my lifetime. They are critically endangered - it's estimated that there are only about 250 of them in the entire North Atlantic.


It was a perfect ending to an amazing trip. We head back into the US tomorrow, and should be home by Sunday. By the time we get there, we'll have driven just about 5,000 miles. Whew!

Online JCA-CrystalCity

  • Global Moderator
  • ****
  • Posts: 42325
  • Platoon - not just a movie, a baseball obsession
I've never heard of a blue whale sighting off of New England, so to see one in Bay of Fundy is extraordinary. Congratulations!

BoF has the biggest tidal range in the world. I would have thought that kind of water would not be optimal for a blue. I would have figured they were deep water only.

Online Ali the Baseball Cat

  • Posts: 17768
  • babble on
That's wild  :shock:

Offline wj73

  • Posts: 819
I've never heard of a blue whale sighting off of New England, so to see one in Bay of Fundy is extraordinary. Congratulations!

BoF has the biggest tidal range in the world. I would have thought that kind of water would not be optimal for a blue. I would have figured they were deep water only.


They told us that because of the extreme tides, nutrients from the bottom are constantly stirred up, providing food for krill and similar critters. We could actually see huge swarms of krill jumping out of the water. All of which makes an excellent buffet for baleen whales. And the water is apparently quite deep in the middle of the Bay.


The tide variations in the Bay are crazy. We saw one of the tidal bores in Moncton, where the force of the tide coming in actually reverses the flow of rivers that drain into the Bay, forcing the water back upstream in a sort of reverse rapids. You can actually watch the wave roll upstream as the water changes directions.




Online JCA-CrystalCity

  • Global Moderator
  • ****
  • Posts: 42325
  • Platoon - not just a movie, a baseball obsession
fins I think are pretty darn huge in their own right.

Offline English Natsie

  • Posts: 550
  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...
One to sing-along to, on the long drive home ( if we can 'Baby Shark'... ;) )


Offline wj73

  • Posts: 819
One to sing-along to, on the long drive home ( if we can 'Baby Shark'... ;) )




After 28 days of driving, so far Mr WJ73 and I have avoided a hatchet murder. That song just might do us in.  :mg:

Offline Count Walewski

  • Posts: 2727
I'm glad the Bay of Fundy lived up to the hype. I know I've been fascinated by that place since we learned about tides in 5th grade science but it seems so far away and exotic, even compared to places in Europe and Asia that have international airports and receive billions of tourists each year.

I saw a Sei Whale in the Azores (3rd largest species in the world) but a Blue blows that out of the water.

Offline dracnal

  • Posts: 1699
Did a whale watching boat trip in the Bay of Fundy yesterday, north of Nova Scotia. Saw minke, fin, and a humpback. But then, a huge (literally) surprise - a blue whale!!! The boat Captain and crew were beside themselves-a blue whale has not been spotted there since 2005!


That whale was a magnificent sight to see. So huge and awe inspiring.  It was only a couple of hundred feet away from the ship, and swam alongside us for several minutes, so we got a good look.


Truly an amazing day. Blue whales are largest creature to have ever lived on this earth. Bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. I feel very very fortunate to have seen such a sight in my lifetime. They are critically endangered - it's estimated that there are only about 250 of them in the entire North Atlantic.


It was a perfect ending to an amazing trip. We head back into the US tomorrow, and should be home by Sunday. By the time we get there, we'll have driven just about 5,000 miles. Whew!

That sounds unbelievably amazing! What an incredible thing to see!!

Offline Count Walewski

  • Posts: 2727
My wife and I just wrapped up 3 full days on the Isle of Man, a small island between England and Ireland. The island and its many train lines inspired the Thomas the Tank Engine cinematic universe (recall that, at least in the original UK version, it all takes place on an island). A few of these still survive today as heritage lines: a steam-powered line connects the capital to the south, a line running Victorian electric trains connects the capital to the north, and a horse-pulled line runs within the capital itself. We also saw castles (both ruined and restored) and took a boat trip to see nesting birds and seals along the island's rocky southern coast.

On that train line that runs in the north of the island, several stops serve nothing except trailheads for nature trails. So you can walk 2 hours in woods that look like fairies, wizards, and hobbits live in them, not see a single person, and then at the end there's a little train station where you can catch a train back to the city. These "stations" are just little cottages at the side of the rails with room for 2, maybe 3 people to sit.

Offline English Natsie

  • Posts: 550
  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...
There's also the mountain railway up to the top of Snaefell (highest point on the island). Did you get to the Laxey Wheel (iconic landmark, which has just reopened after extensive renovation work)?

Offline Count Walewski

  • Posts: 2727
Yep, we took the Snaefell Mountain Railway to the very top of Snaefell. On a good day they say you can see Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England from the top but when we were there it was so foggy that we could barely see the Isle of Man. We also took the Great Laxey Wheel Railway which was once used to carry carts of ore from the mine to where it was washed/separated but today carries people - it runs miniature trains, like the kind Walt Disney had at his house.

Currently at the Isle of Man's airport awaiting a 45 minute flight to Dublin. This airport is really nice - big comfortable upholstered leather chairs at the gates. Really appropriate for a small tax haven island. All of the ads in the airport are for offshore financial services or legal advice. I can't access the sole lounge here but it must be even more luxurious. All for three gates.

One last thing: the Isle of Man is aggressively on the hunt for skilled immigrants. The luggage carts in the airport have a QR code you can scan to learn more about moving here, and there are ads all over the country on billboards encouraging tourists to stay permanently. As soon as any of the Manx people we talked to learned that my wife is a nurse, they started selling her on the island: there is a shortage of healthcare workers (both for people and for animals) and the islanders all know that each doctor, nurse, or vet they get to move here means shorter lines and faster appointments for them.

I don't think a cardiologist who visits the Isle of Man would be allowed to leave: we were told that due to a lack of cardiologists on the island, anyone who suffers a heart attack must be airlifted to Liverpool. With a population of 84,000 and lots of elderly people, I can't imagine how expensive that gets.

Online Natsinpwc

  • Posts: 26701
In Dublin, get the Fish and Chips at Leo Burdock. It’s take out only. We got it from the one by Christchurch but there’s also another one in the City Centre.

Offline English Natsie

  • Posts: 550
  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...

One last thing: the Isle of Man is aggressively on the hunt for skilled immigrants. The luggage carts in the airport have a QR code you can scan to learn more about moving here, and there are ads all over the country on billboards encouraging tourists to stay permanently.

Of course, 'permanently', in Manx terms, means 'whilst in paid employment'. Once the job ends, so does your right to remain - unless you have a few million in the bank...

Offline wj73

  • Posts: 819
Thanks so much for the write up. I’ve heard of the Isle of Man, but knew very little about it, except that the tailless Manx cats originated there. The little railway to the trailheads sounds wonderful!

Online imref

  • Posts: 44531
  • Re-contending in 202...5?
thanks for sharing Count!

Online Ali the Baseball Cat

  • Posts: 17768
  • babble on
Mark Cavendish, the "Manx Missile"  :D


Offline English Natsie

  • Posts: 550
  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...
Ta'n çhengey oc hene neesht - Gaelg Manninagh

(they also have their own language - Manx Gaelic).

Offline blue911

  • Posts: 18501
Isle of Man TT

Online Ali the Baseball Cat

  • Posts: 17768
  • babble on
A boon for organ banks  :D
Isle of Man TT

Offline English Natsie

  • Posts: 550
  • It's baseball, Jim, but not as we know it...
Not a great place for clothes shopping, though - all those three-legged pairs of trousers... ;)

Offline Count Walewski

  • Posts: 2727
Yeah the Isle of Man is the motorcycling racing capital of the world. Fully 20% of the tourists who visit the Isle of Man in a given year come for the TT, the big motorcycle race held for two weeks every summer. We made sure to book our trip for after the TT ended, but what we didn't realize is there are other motorcycle races throughout the year and there was a smaller one while we were there. Motorcycles were everywhere and motorcyclists are out and about all over the place, often treated like heroes wherever they go. Some are there for the race (including one who was checking into our hotel the same time we were), others are just making a pilgrimage and hoping to ride on the same roads as the racers. All over the Isle of Man you can find bleachers and grandstands along the side of the road, those are for TT. Squares and such are named for TT drivers who were killed nearby - the little post office I bought my postcard stamps in was named for a TT driver who died on the road nearby during the race.

Now I am in the Republic of Ireland. Whereas the Isle of Man is a fairly obscure place that receives fewer tourists each year than North Korea (overwhelmingly from the English Midlands), the ROI is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially for Americans. Dublin's airport felt like a little exclave of America, there's even TSA security checkpoints there! American accents are all over Dublin, which reminds me a lot of Portland, OR in terms of city layout, architecture, weather, and street scenes. This is my first time in Ireland so we are seeing utterly conventional things: yesterday was the Cliffs of Moher, today we will be visiting a sheep farm to watch a sheep dog demonstration, the day after tomorrow will be Northern Ireland, Newgrange and the Boyne Valley the day after that.

Offline Count Walewski

  • Posts: 2727
After 6 days in Ireland, we have landed in Iceland. So far, I am not particularly impressed with Iceland. Despite it being July, it is cold here (48 degrees right now, today's high will be 52), windy, rainy, and the food is shockingly expensive. At restaurants, the appetizers are often about $24 and the actual meals go up from there.

All we've done so far is land, check into our hotel, and walk around downtown Reykjavik. I still have some tours scheduled, including a Golden Circle tour and a puffin boat tour, and maybe they'll impress me, even though there is a significant chance of rain for both of them. But Iceland is starting out in a huge hole for me.