09 Aug 2016

Bicycle Casino and Hotel, Bell Gardens, California


Our summer pattern has been that as soon as the World Series of Poker is over we have headed for Europe. I mean Las Vegas weather is less than pleasant this time of year – unless you like being in a pizza oven.

This summer has been special because we are finishing construction of our new home, which means staying relatively close to town for frequent visits.

My friend Mo Fathipour, Tournament Director at Bicycle Casino, suggested I visit them for their major annual August tournament, Legends of Poker Tournament, which allows us to visit their brand new hotel and just be an hour from home. Plus we can get in some serious poker.

So here we are.




When most folks think of L.A. they think of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Pacific Ocean and other areas west of downtown. They have many great hotels and the best ones charge in the $700 range for a room.

Here, we are just 10 miles east of downtown and it is a different world. Those of us who play poker appreciate having a beautiful new hotel here.

What a pleasure it is to be able to stay at the venue and not have to suffer the horrendous traffic in order to have a nice room. And the room rates are only 25 – 30% of comparable quality west of downtown. Everything here is modern, clean, neat and tidy - the rooms, reception, gym, spa, and  fitness center. When you call down to valet to bring your car, it is there when you get downstairs. Oh, and the employees are all exceptionally nice.

They've done a terrific job with The Bike Hotel. It is a pleasure to be staying here.




02 May 2016

Ketchikan, Alaska 2016



Ketchikan is fun, cute, loaded with totem poles and bars, and is very rainy.





We tend to eat lunch off the ship in Alaska because the seafood is so fresh and delicious. 





At Annabelle's Famous Keg and Chowderhouse, I ordered Allyn a 6-ounce beer sampler. Who knew it was 6 ounces per glass?




No place has more totem poles than here.

Coming from Seattle I constantly hear about our rain. Here are some facts about average annual rainfall. Mobile, Alabama has the most rain of any city in the Continental U.S., 30% more than Seattle.

However Ketchikan, Alaska has almost triple the rainfall of Mobile. That is a bunch.

29 Apr 2016

Skagway, Alaska and the Klondike Gold Rush







Cute sign in jewelry store window.





Skagway was beautiful today, but it was a rough, tough city during the Klondike Gold Rush. 

Gold was discovered in the Klondike region of the Yukon in NW Canada on August 16, 1896.


It was "just far enough away to be romantic and just close enough to be accessible".






From July, 1897 for about a year, over 100,000 dreamers traveled mainly from Seattle to Skagway hoping to get rich.





Canadian authorities required each person to bring a year's supply of food. Each hauled close to a ton of equipment, which for most had to be carried in stages by themselves.


Even though they only had to hike a route of about 40 miles over the pass they walked single-file and needed about 30 round trips to get all their belongings moved. The result was about 2,500 miles trekking over a 90 day period.


It is estimated that maybe 1% came back with more than they left with.


When gold was discovered in Nome in 1899, that was the end of the Klondike Gold Rush.




27 Apr 2016

Seward, AK 2016



Seward is all about nature. There are not too many places where in a couple hours you can enjoy the mountains, bald eagles, hundreds of seagulls, dozens of sea lions and a several whales.

Many humpback whales split their time between Maui and here. Frankly if that were the choice for me, I would just stay in Maui for another couple months.











26 Apr 2016

Kodiak, Alaska 2016







Today we had a very cool (literally and figuratively) small tour learning about the fishing industry. Instead of a normal guide we toured with visited several commercial fishermen.




Although there are only about 6,000 people who live here, they have the third largest fishing port catch (by value) in the U.S. They put up with 78 inches of rain a year, 68 inches of snow, terrible winds, and severe seas. It's a tough life.




Besides actually seeing how they fish, we learned about fish processing.




We learned about safety where in one generation it has transformed from one of the deadliest occupations to one of the safest.




As a side benefit we saw some sea lions enjoying themselves very near our ship.