Archive for the ‘Travel’

Nora and Ian’s first time in the snow

January 22, 2017 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Travel, Videos

Nora and Ian's first snowIn the twelve years I have lived in this town, it has snowed once such that it stuck for a few hours. It very rarely gets down to zero degrees Celsius here at sea level. Unlike their cousin, Xander, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who needs a snow shovel to even leave his house for 5 months of the year, our kids have never really experienced snow.

In past years, we have seen photos of Nora’s classmates playing in the snow. Because we live right next to the mountains, it’s possible to drive a bit into the mountains and find snow, but we never have. Mainly because the kids never had any appropriate clothing for rolling around in frozen water. This year, we were determined to do it, so we bought the kids snow clothes. This weekend was the first weekend after a week of cold precipitation (rain here, snow in the mountains), so we decided to do it. Unfortunately we still didn’t have appropriate shoes, so on Saturday we went to the mall to buy the remaining shoes and gloves, and on Sunday morning we left for the hills.
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La Vijanera – Cantabria’s Pagan Nature Festival

January 08, 2017 By: erik Category: Partying, Spain, Travel

La Vijanera - SilióSeveral years ago, I became aware of this truly bizarre festival celebrated in Cantabria, my region of Spain, on the first Sunday of every year. Since learning of its existence, we have always been busy doing some other family thing winding down Christmas when it is held, but this year we finally made it! The festival is called La Vijanera, and it is the most pagan thing I’ve seen since I took down our Christmas tree yesterday.
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Picturesque Basque Islet – San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

December 12, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel

San Juan GaztelugatxeOn Saturday, my family and I went to a local tourist destination that I have been wanting to visit for some time now: the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It has got to be one of the most photogenic spots I’ve seen on the northern coast of Spain. Especially near the solstice, with the sun low in the southern sky, the geographic wonder was back lit to great photographic effect. It’s so photogenic, in fact, that it will be appearing in Season 7 of a little tv show called Game of Thrones. They have already done the filming.
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Gavilanes 2016

September 23, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel

Gavilanes 2016On the weekend of September 10 and 11, 2016, my wife and kids and sister-in-law drove five and a half hours south to a little mountain village called Gavilanes near Ávila. If someone told you to put a pin on a map in the dead center of the Iberian peninsula, not just Spain, you would probably skewer Gavilanes. Why did we choose this place? It is the home town of the husband, Óscar, of my wife and sister’s second cousin, Lourdes. Óscar and Lourdes attended my wedding, and the second cousins recently reconnected and released how much they liked each other recently on a sisters’ road trip to Madrid, where they live. Óscar and Lourdes brought their 11-year-old son, Daniel, who was great with our kids, and we all stayed in a house that belongs to Óscar’s mother.
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Hiking in Cantabria – Balconada del Cerreo

August 22, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel

Balconada del Cerreo, RasinesThis past Sunday, with the kids summering with their grandparents down south, my wife and I signed up for a hike organized by the local tourism board. It was advertised as: Subida a la balconada del Cerreo, 4:30 hours, 600 meter change (Medium Difficulty). We thought, “600 meters! That’s nothing!” Of course the 600 meters is really only measuring the difference from the lowest to the highest point. While it was quite as high as the Pico de las Nieves, which you can drive almost all the way up to, we did end up with a very nice view from which we could have hit our house with a laser.
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Travel Pro Tip: Don’t Lose Your Passport(s)

June 14, 2016 By: erik Category: Complaining, Family, Travel, USA

Papers PleaseOn Saturday, we made our annual family trek to the American Homeland to visit the family. The children behaved absolutely admirably, with Nora, having just finished first grade (actually we took her out two weeks early), taking the gold medal by entertaining herself completely with the in-flight entertainment and later some iPad games. Ian was a little more of a handful, raising and lowering his tray table roughly one million times in the nine hour flight. Luckily the seat in front of him was unoccupied.
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How to emigrate from the United States? Don’t.

March 15, 2016 By: erik Category: Travel, USA

Emigration from USSeveral of my American friends have asked me privately about ways or plans to emigrate from the United States should certain political powers assume control. This is an open letter to them.

The truth is that emigration is hard, and for the most part, Europe doesn’t want you, no matter how white and educated you are (and I can really only speak to Europe; maybe the Canucks will have you?). I am a highly sought after computer programmer – I literally get recruiter emails every day – and it was nearly impossible for me to find a company willing to give me a work permit in the UK. The escape chute might be a little better lubricated if you are a college student. It’s easy to live abroad temporarily as a student, and easier – though still almost impossible! – to find a permanent position once you are already temporarily abroad.
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Kindness Solves Boarding Conundrum

February 16, 2016 By: erik Category: Travel, USA


The following is a true story from my recent trip, written as soon as I boarded the plane.

At the gate in Charlotte, twenty minutes before boarding time, there was an African man slowly getting more and more agitated talking to the airline employee at the gate. He had come to the airport with his wife and kids, and the lady at the baggage check desk had told him that the flight wasn’t too full, so he could just take his large second bag to the gate and either they’d let him gate check it for free or he could carry it on, despite being larger than the carry-on guidelines. He had even brought a smaller bag to the check in counter and had his wife and kids there so that, if his larger bag was too large, he could leave some things and take the smaller bag.
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Pico de las Nieves with Kids

November 08, 2015 By: erik Category: Offspring, Spain, Travel

Nora on top of the worldOne of our favorite local hikes is the Pico de las Nieves, a mountain that we can see from our house that is only about as hard to climb as ten flights of stairs. On November 8th, we decided that it was time to take the kids there. It was a beautiful day with plenty of visibility, which made it a perfect choice. We packed a picnic lunch and hopped in the car and headed up.

Ian, unfortunately, has gotten quite sensitive to motion sickness, so we had to stop and get out of the car for 5 minutes about four times during what would normally be a 25 minute ride. Poor guy.
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Salamanca 2015 – Part 3 of 3

October 14, 2015 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Spain, Travel

SalamancaWhen we awoke on October 11th, after a full ten hours of slumber, we realized how exhausted we had been, not just from the many kilometers of tourism walking we’d done the day before, but from all the stress in our lives that made this two day vacation such a necessity. Having seen and done most of the main things on our todo list the day before, we were free to walk leisurely around the city. We did stop in at the tourism office to see about getting a guided tour, but all the guided tours were booked, except for the ones starting at 5pm, and the weather forecast was for rain at 5pm.
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