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21 Jun 2020

Allyn and Barry's 2020 Summer Travel, our RV, and Zion National Park

Welcome to the Allyn and Barry 2020 Summer Road trip. Since we have been together, we have played The World Series of Poker every summer and then to escape the Las Vegas heat, we have been fortunate to explore Europe by both ship and land.
Choosing to stay relatively close to home, we decided to rent a townhouse in Seattle for July and August in order to visit friends and family. We can and will hunker down as much as is prudent. Not wanting to fly or even drive and then stay in hotels, we decided on an 11 day road trip going north - might as well see some sights. We rented a large RV (45 feet) with a driver so that we have our own safe cocoon heading to Seattle.
If a cruise ship is a floating hotel, this RV is a mobile hotel. Even though it sleeps 5 comfortably, the driver stays in a hotel at night in order to give us total privacy. 
We have a nice living room, and of course there is an area to drive. The king size bed is comfy.The kitchen and dinette area are more than adequate.
Outside sets up both to provide cover and has a one of our 5 TVs. We are looking forward to roughing it for a while. :)
Zion National Park was day 1. Although much is closed, the popular Canyon Overlook Trail is open and spectacular. It is rated easy to moderate. Although not quite a mile it has much uneven terrain and is quite steep in places. Believe me it was plenty of exercise for a rookie hiker like me and a lady with a broken toe like Allyn.
The view is spectacular both along the way up as well as the very top.
While we did a photo stop at Checkerboard Mesa on the way out of the park.
We also stopped when we spotted a heard pf buffalo. Great day.
 








18 May 2020

Hunkered Down in Las Vegas

Here is some proof that COVID-19 has turned the world upside down for every one of us. Nobody who knows Allyn Shulman can imagine her ever before allowing a photo of herself without makeup. :)
Wow. It has been 10 weeks since I have blogged. But, it is difficult to write a proper travel blog while staying at home.  
Like most folks, we have been hunkered down at home. We are one of the extremely lucky couples who have been able to treat this as a staycation. Still we miss the in-person interaction with friends and family. 
Normally I am anxiously preparing for the World Series of Poker about now with an eye towards the European beaches afterwards when the weather here in Las Vegas is stifling.  Not this year though. Hopefully next year.
Allyn and I have a fun, safe summer scheduled which will generate lots of stories and photos. We have rented a townhouse in Seattle overlooking Lake Union for July and August. We will be taking road trips to Seattle and back for three weeks total in an RV so that we can have as little interaction with others as is appropriate.
Hopefully Seattle will be safe enough to interact with family and friends even if it is with just two people at a time.








09 Mar 2020

Honolulu 2020

I've been to Waikiki over 50 times and never even heard of the Oahu Festival. Yet here it is. One night; tonight. They even close down Kalakaua Avenue for six hours. Nice treat for us. Had we known we would have eaten street food which looks tasty. Speaking of eating. Let me tell you about five dinner experiences here in Waikiki. Four super duper, and one not so much.
Roy's Waikiki -  Do not confuse Roy's in Hawaii with the ones on the Mainland. Those have gone so far downhill since they were acquired.
Roy's Waikiki is known for outstanding Hawaii inspired Euro-Asian Cuisine. We tend to go there for both great raw and cooked fish. We love their rolls and the poke is the best. Even their edamame is better than others. We were too stuffed to even order entrees.
This time they wanted to prove that they cook internationally - with Japanese fusion of course. We had their signature baby back pork ribs, tacos, and escargot pizza. Yummie.
Wolfgang's Steakhouse - You won't find a better steakhouse. The service is as good as the food. We asked them to add some avocado and an extra portion their famous bacon to their salad and it was their pleasure.
You can't go wrong with any of the meat.
You absolutely must include the German potatoes.
It didn't hurt a bit to be waited on by Skeie. You will not find a better server - anywhere.
Chart House Waikiki - The chart House is always fun and friendly as well as terrific food. If you like sushi you must try the unique Kimmi's Firecracker Unroll. Imagine a bowl of sushi without the roll.
We like other unique items there also like Joey's Famous Garlic Steak and the Grass-fed Bison Tenderloin. This is the one restaurant where I order rare seared Ahi as a main course.
Noi Thai Cuisine Honolulu - This is the spot for high end Thai food in Honolulu.  We particularly liked the Spicy Green Beans and the Ginger Garlic Chicken.
Perhaps the most unique item was Allyn's Diamond Head Mango Drop. We are talking spicy. They keep a Thai Chili pepper in the vodka bottle. Zing plus.
There is no need to review The Cheesecake Factory where often we split nice lunches. Today I caught them cleaning each and every menu. I like that.
Top of Hawaii Revolving Restaurant - Now I remember why I have been coming to Honolulu for 50 years and never ate at the Top of Hawaii Revolving Restaurant. It is not very good. But the view is certainly nice. Sunset is definitely the time to come. 
I hate to waste the space, but this is classic - I ordered a nice bottle of wine and they wouldn't let me taste it unless I agreed to let them take away my cocktail!? 
 








04 Mar 2020

Sydney, Australia 2020

Sydney is still right up there as one of the best cities in the world. If we left the United States this would be one of the top two or three cities we would move to. It's just that it is a bit far. Maybe that is a good thing these days. 
The first order of business in Sydney after the ship clears is our usual fun meal with a large group at Doyle's Watson Bay location. Beside having fine food and terrific ambiance, we take the ferry for 25 minutes to remind ourselves of the Sydney beauty. 
In between eating is always shopping at the elegant Queen Victoria Building. It was completed in 1898, when Sydney was in a severe recession. Elaborate Romanesque architecture was specially planned for the grand building in order for the government to employ many out-of-work craftsmen - stonemasons, plasterers, and stained window artists.
One of Allyn's favorite stores , Via Condotti, is located here. She says you just can't get this kind of stuff at home. Why go to Italy for Italian shoes when you can get them here?
Two of my pals opted for the evening climb of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Their wives joined Allyn and me for dinner.
Dinner was at Sydney Cove Oyster Bar. The food was as incredible as the ambiance. it may have been the best meal we ever had here.
The final evening of this year's aborted world cruise was spent with my beautiful grand niece, Allegra Long, who is spending a semester abroad at the Boston University campus located here.
She is twenty years old and previously had never eaten an oyster. She loved them. I think I may have to alert child protective services about potentially abusive parents.








26 Feb 2020

Dunedin, New Zealand - Royal Albatross Colony

 

 

Normal folks take a car or a bus, but Allyn convinced me that it would be fun to take a long bike ride to see the world-famous Royal Albatross colony.

 

 

 

Albatross are the world’s largest seabirds. They normally breed on remote islands and spend at least 85 percent of their lives at sea. The only land time is for breeding.

 

Here at Dunedin is the only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony in the world.

 

They have 10-foot wingspans which allows them major gliding. They don’t like to work hard, yet they travel very far.

 

In fact, when they leave their nests, they travel a third of the way around the world to hang out in South America.

 

Then they return and take the long route home, circumnavigating the globe, just so they can glide with the prevailing winds.

 

 

 

 

They only lay one egg per pair every two years. The breeders arrive back in September.

Incubation duty lasts a period of 80 days and is split between the parents.

 

The parents keep an eye on the newborns for 35 days and then they are on their own for protection, but the parents still feed them for a while.

 

They fly out the next September.  They return in five years, and the cycle starts again.