View From the Plane Window

Taking off from Newark – that’s Red Bull Arena to the right

I love looking out the window of the plane, seeing the tapestry of the earth below. I take photos of the geography and promise myself that I will look it up later and figure out what I was seeing. When I flew to Phoenix in September I took a gazillion pictures AND I took pictures of the plane tracker map as well, so that I might have a clue about where I was when I took the photos. Well, now it’s January and I never did anything with any of those photos. It’s times like this that I really miss my father – he knew everything about geography and maps. I’d have been able to show him the real land and the plane tracker and he’d have been able to tell me the rivers and the mountains. Failing that, however, I give you the photos and the plane map and you can figure it out if you are so inspired! (And then tell me, please!)

Counting the cars on the NJ Turnpike, in the Swamplands of Jersey

Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ
Raritan Bay – Sandy Hook, the Outerbridge crossing
mississippi river
Looks like this must be the Mississippi River
Exactly how I imagine Kansas – flat fields
I took soooo many photos over Colorado – mountains, fields, water
Heading down to Phoenix!

Escape to Arizona

view from my room

The spring weather was rainy. It was cold. It was not at all spring-like. I may have mentioned that in prior posts. I decided that I needed an escape. My son used to live in Florida, and I used to escape down there in the winter to get some warm sunshine. Last year he moved out to Arizona, as I mentioned at the time. dining 1st classWhile AZ is very sunny and warm (actually, let’s be honest – it’s HOT), it doesn’t have an ocean. An ocean typically figures in my idea of “escape”. I decided that I would try a desert escape instead and see how it worked.

If one is escaping, one should do it with bells and whistles. I booked everything to be as self-indulgent as possible: first class seat on the plane, private car service to the resort, amazingly gorgeous upscale resort. I’m a little frustrated with paying for first class plane tickets and not loving my seat. Sure, they give you linen napkins and glass, not plastic, but it can still have drawbacks. On the way out I ended up next to a gentleman who wore WAY too much scent. I’m allergic to perfumes and aftershaves and such. I wish the folks who wear these things would not bathe in them nor wash their clothes in them. So sorry but you, sir, stink. 😦 On the way home, silly me, I thought I’d get to board among the first folks to board, thereby not having to worry about storing my carry-on bag. room at The Boulders By the time Group 1 got to board, every seat in 1st class was filled but 2. The seat next to mine was taken by a young man with headphones on, head down deliberately avoiding any eye contact with anyone. I’m short – 5’1″ on a good day. The overhead bins were not only nearly full, but folks had not put their bags in the “correct” way so they occupied more space than required. As both aisle seats were full, and neither “gentleman” (perhaps I should use the term “occupant” as a more accurate description) considered leaning away out of the aisle, I was struggling to lift MY bag, turn it properly and stow it. I thought there was a very good chance I’d end up hitting my seat-mate in the head. As I struggled from the lack of space, a true gentleman from 2 rows back came and placed the bag for me. morning cactus*smile* He also took it down for me at journey’s end. The young man did not stink, thank goodness, and was very quiet. The flight home was a red-eye, and it was delayed over an hour. I think that I am done taking the red-eye home. The last 3 times I’ve taken a red-eye, trying to not “waste” a day, the flights have had issues (2 from Arizona, 1 from Nevada). I think from now on I’ll just waste a day.

Absolutely no complaints about the car service. I took Super Shuttle. I got used to hiring them when I travel on business. I’m not interested in trying Lyft or Uber. I’ve heard too many bad stories and I’m not unhappy with Super Shuttle, so to date I’ve had no reason to change. My driver was being trained, so I had TWO drivers. They were charming, informative (my generation!) and not only drove me to the resort but gave me a running commentary on what we were passing and suggestions on what I should do/see while I was out there. I also learned about how those drivers get their passengers, and how the payment works and such. I am always interested in how other businesses operate.boulders map Although my pre-paid fare had included a tip already, these 2 were so engaging that I added to it. And I did follow 3 of their suggestions!

I stayed at The Boulders. I did very little research on picking a place to stay. I knew that Scottsdale, AZ was known for upscale spa resorts. I knew (or thought I knew) that Scottsdale was close to Tempe, which is where my son lives. I don’t do well when I have to choice from a multitude of options. I decided to narrow my search by starting with Hilton resorts, as I am on their frequent guest plan. (I LOVE the Hilton Orlando with its lazy river!!!!) I put in my key amenities: free wi-fi, a spa, restaurant on site, pool, near Tempe. Answer: The Boulders. I never looked at the building plans. I began to be very nervous when the car service told me I was “way out there”. Apparently The Boulders is in Scottsdale but it’s in Carefree, and the northernmost part of Carefree. spa viewThat makes it closer to 45 minutes from my son, not 20-30 as I was guessing from my last trip. Not only that, but as we drove the winding road through the grounds, I realized there was no main hotel building. There were separate low one-story buildings nestled about the landscape. The resort has a zillion golf carts to pick you up and take you where you want to go should you not want to walk. The map they gave me at check-in was intimidating – it looked like I’d be hiking EVERYWHERE. I took a golf cart to my room.

The room was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The view outside was astounding. The spa was a 5 minute walk from the room. I unpacked and headed there to spend the afternoon by the spa pool. The view everywhere was spectacular. spa pool The pool was refreshing. I was too late for the lunch menu but the server brought me a muffin to tide me over until dinner. I headed back up to the room after a few hours and fell asleep waiting for my son to arrive. He came up after work. By the time he got there, my body clock was telling me it was nearly 10 and I was HUNGRY! We decided to walk to one of the restaurants. *grin* We didn’t do all that well with our map. We might have been better off calling for a golf cart. But we did get there and dinner was lovely. The best part about eating in Arizona (and Florida) is that all the restaurants have huge outdoor areas. They have fans and misters and awnings – everything to make outdoor dining pleasant. We dined looking over one of the golf courses (there are 2). We did take the shuttle back to the main building and a golf cart home, which really was an extravagance. cottontail jack rabbit (There is no charge for the golf cart service. Or rather, there is, but it’s a daily fee added on to all the other charges so you don’t have to worry about tipping each ride.)

Over the next few days we tended to take a break up at the lodge pool. Again – totally beautiful with a manufactured waterfall in the background. Children are not allowed at the spa pool but I enjoyed seeing them in the lodge pool. My favorite recollections of our family trips when I was just a young sprout were the various hotel pools on our journeys. I was definitely a fish in those days and part of me joins in with the children I see loving the water.

I didn’t take any pictures inside the room – the resort website has completely accurate representations. morning companionsEvery time I went out on our patio/balcony I took millions of photos. I sat out there every morning, drinking my coffee and enjoying the company. There were birds that are not in NJ, there were desert cottontail rabbits, there were lizards and there were quail. OMG, the quail have such cute heads. I’d gaze up at the mountain in the distance and breathe in the air and the quiet and the cactus and the rocks. It was heaven. Staring at the desert produces the same serenity as gazing at the ocean.

My “tour guides” suggested that the next time I come out I should stay at The Biltmore. That is a fantastic suggestion. But if I can’t get a room there, I’ll be delighted to go back to The Boulders.

more view

Travel Fragments

IMG_8858We saw this Arizona license plate when we were up at a mall in Scottsdale. It was too wonderful not to share.



IMG_8912I love the road art out west. I’ve seen this in Nevada and it was everywhere around Tempe as well. The highways have rock designs along the embankments. The bridges and walls have decorations. Most of the time we were moving too fast to capture any decent images. I was able to take 2 pictures from my hotel finally.


We drove through what seemed to be a sandstorm on our way to the airport for my flight home. I couldn’t catch the sign that was warning of reduced visibility due to blowing sand, but I think this picture can give you an idea of what it was like.



IMG_8926There were many things to love about Tempe: the variety in cuisine, the friendly people, the acceptance of dogs at restaurants and in stores, the road art, the wide highways and the awareness of all things ecological and green. This shot is from the airport restroom.






IMG_8952One of my all-time favorite views: Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook in the distance (top of the photo).








IMG_8961The sun rising over Port Newark.

Sailing in the Air

I love to sail. I haven’t done much lately (well, actually Bamboo and I went sailing early one morning last week) but I do enjoy it. So when a friend invited me to sail in his new ship, I was delighted. Except…. *grin* …. his new ship is an AIR ship, and the invite was to sail in the skies above the water. And above the land.

I got to Grace O’clock the other night, which is always a dual pleasure. The joy of hearing Grace sing combined with seeing so many friends makes for a wonderful time. One of the attendees was my friend Lalo Telling. Lalo has a great blog, where he chronicles SecondLife history as well as adventures in building in SL and InWorldz. He and his partner Alisa Falconvale have great buildings for sale at Falconvale Fine Prefabs in InWorldz. Recently he got a wonderful new steampunk airship. Steampunk is another fave of mine (oh let’s be real – who DOESN’T like steampunk, right???) so I wheedled and whined for a ride, which Lalo offered graciously.

The airship is the Aer Viator, a steampunk airship. It’s made by the Bondar-Foehammer Aerosteam Company in SL. It has fun sound effects, neat dials and is VERY good-looking. It also handles sim crossings like a champ. I felt a bit of a shimmer but that was it. (When I think how I crashed and crashed on my motorcycle for Chestnut’s birthday motorcycle rally….) The ship is only 30 prims, which I think is reasonable and holds 2 passengers in addition to the pilot (pffft. Lalo insisted on being the pilot. I don’t LIKE being in the back seat. Pout. ) It was a great deal of fun. Even better – the Aer Viator is still on an introductory special, so if you hurry, you too can be an Aer Viator Pilot!

Look! Up in the Sky!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane!! It’s….. OMG – take cover – it’s Ahuva. And friends! *grin* A friend of mine gave me a folder of sky bikes back when I was going crazy on the landscaping in November. I did rez one of the bikes then and there and take it for a spin. I LOVED it. I zoomed above ground, through the water, all about. I had a blast. Sometimes sim boundaries are tough. *grin* But I learned that flying Dark Air.

I love my sky bikes (especially the RED one). *grin* I love fast cars. I took our wedding money and bought a sports car. We didn’t have a bed, but we had a sports car. Even before that, as a kid, I loved racing cars. I always drove too fast – would run the cars off the curves. One year my husband bought me TWO sets. We set them up on the floor, so when I’d run them off the curve they wouldn’t drop and crash, they’d just crash. LOL. The cats and the dog went crazy with the cars, and ultimately I needed to clean, so finally I re-boxed them. I think they are still stashed in the basement. sigh. And I make do with a 6 cylinder luxury car, but it’s not the same as my 5-on-the-floor Z.

But in SL – I don’t smash my cars (well, not too often *grin*). My back doesn’t hurt from sitting low to the ground. There aren’t any law enforcement officers lurking about the corners (pffft on speeding tickets). I really should fly my skybikes more. Maybe instead of morning sails I should go for morning zooms.

So after Honour and I had rezzed our Grifters (our wonderful motorcycles from the MM board at Black-Kat Choppers), we weren’t done playing. I remembered my sky bikes. I shared them with Honour and Dz, who came around about that time. We all rezzed the red sky bike – soooooooo COOL!!! We played tag and follow the leader all around Taylor Bay. Then Honour got out her attack helicopter. *grin* We all love toys. I switched to a purple 2-seater and Dz hopped on for a ride. We had a great time, swooping and soaring.

The truth is – girls just wanna have fun. On bikes – both ground and sky!

Dark Air II

maintenance-done-ready-to-taxiI was supposed to be scripting. I owe Hell 2 assignments (a swinging door and a sliding door) and I owe a friend a revised dance floor. I was supposed to be building. I have an assignment for work that involves building hair. I visited a friend’s house and steep-ascentsaw their tp system for moving about the house and I NEED one of those for my house. That would be a scripting assignment for me. A friend of mine offered me an underwater cave for terraforming. I need to learn Photoshop so that I can create textures for the hair that I am supposed to be learning to build. No problem. I had all of this vacation time stretching ahead of id-feel-better-if-i-had-a-seat-belt1me. Over a week of time when I could script and build and learn and be productive.

So what have I accomplished? I straightened out my inventory and I bought more stuff. What am I doing that I am not accomplishing above-the-cloudsanything productive? I am socializing and playing and shopping. I spent nearly 3 days staking out a lucky chair in order to get a dress. Now mind you – I could have BOUGHT the dress. But I didn’t like it enough to buy it. I wanted to WIN it. There were 5 outfits being given away on 3 chairs. I had 4 of the 5 outfits. I’d been staking out that chair for 2.5 hours faster-than-the-land-can-rezwhen the “A” finally appeared with the dress. But I was just a tad slow on the clicker (I was deep in a serious IM with a friend) and some $^#Q$$% other Av, who came to wait MUCH later than I had arrived, beat me to it. That is really rude, bad form and down-right inconsiderate. It took me 2 more days to finally bag that dress.buzzing-the-neighbors

And, as you can see from the pictures, I went flying again with Dark. He’d been tweaking the Spitfire and was going to take it for a test flight. It was my good fortune to be logged in at the time so I got to go along. My son was home and watching over my shoulder as we tp’d to join Dark and hop aboard. We tookperfect-day-for-flying off and headed into the wild blue yonder. We buzzed the neighbors and soared into the sky. We turned and dove and climbed. My son really wasn’t too sure that he was enjoying it (too real for him when we started spinning). But I was! We soared past the bridge and the tower and went faster than the land could rez. I don’t remember where or why we flew into a particle stream, but since it was red and green,nothing-but-water-and-sky I’m sure it had something to do with Santa. We finally hit an area that blew us out of the air and ended our flight. But we had another perfect day for flying – clear skies and good wind.

We ended the day ice skating at Shengri La. Another sublime SL experience, even though we were soaring on earthheading-for-home instead of through the skies. And so I played and played and played, and the work sits there, untouched, accusing. Hmmmm. Tomorrow is another day.

Dark Air

dark-air-11I meet the most interesting people in SL. I meet the most incredibly generous and helpful people also, but that will be covered in a different post. Today I’m talking interesting. I was hanging about one night at the Crown and Pearl (how unusual, right?). The crowd had thinned to just a few of us intrepid souls. I back-seat-flyer1ended up dancing (swing) with Dark. I’d not really had any conversation with Dark, just talking together in group chat. We began chatting as we danced. What a wonderful surprise! Not only is Dark witty and very quick with a riposte, but he is extremely intelligent. Our conversation ranged from Fermi,ready-for-takeoff Heisenberg and Shrodinger to quaternions and gimbal lock to gamelans to how you can tell if an elephant has been in your refrigerator. And then it got even better. 🙂 Dark builds and scripts planes. WWII British planes, to be taxid-to-runwaymore precise. Well. I LOVE fast cars, planes, boats, space craft, motorcycles and fast vehicles of all kinds. Of course I immediately badgered Dark to take me for a ride. So he did! I had a bit of difficulty getting into the plane because I seemed to want to be the pilot, but once we solved THAT issue we were ready for take-off.

up-up-upAnd take-off we did. We soared high up into the sky, through the clouds, above the clouds. We soared and swoped and dove and spun. It was fantastic! We soared across sim boundaries and back again. Flew over the land and the water. It was high-above-sl as freeing and amazing an experience as the time I finally got the courage to go sky-diving in SL. I could feel the wind in my hair. SO MUCH FUN!!!!

Thank you again, Dark. It was a fantastic evening. The dancing, the dark-air-1-supermarinespitfireconversation, the flying, the start of a new friendship. Dark has already taken me flying again. For those who can’t wait for me to post (because I have gotten incredibly remiss about things like scripting, building and blogging over this wheee-sidewaysholiday break), the latest batch of photos are already up on Flickr. Or maybe you should contact Dark and buy one of his planes for yourself. Yep, he will even sell you a plane if you are so inclined. The ducks and I have been discussing where to build the hangar…..the-view-from-the-back-seat