The coast of Greenland from 38,000 feet

The pilot called our attention to the coast of Greenland as we passed over at 38,000 feet. Kathryn, who had the window seat, quickly grabbed the camera and took this photo.

On our flight from Philadelphia to Paris, we departed in darkness and arrived in heavy snow, so we didn’t see much other than the lights on the wingtips. On the way home, though, we had clear skies and bright sun almost the whole way. The pilot called our attention to the coast of Greenland as we passed over at 38,000 feet. Kathryn, who had the window seat, grabbed the camera and took this photo. Continue reading “The coast of Greenland from 38,000 feet”

The day we were left alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves.

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves. Here’s how it happened. Continue reading “The day we were left alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles”

Regional words and fat Frenchmen

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks.

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks. Continue reading “Regional words and fat Frenchmen”

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

I’m hardly done traveling. In fact, since the middle of last year, Kathryn and I have attended a wedding in Kauai, spent a week with family in New England, drove to all twenty-one of the Catholic missions in California, and of course made at least a couple weekend road trips to Las Vegas.

I know it’s been several months since I’ve been active on this blog, other than to respond to the occasional comment. I even received one e-mail from someone interested in buying the blog, since to him I appeared to be done with it.

Rest assured, though, I’m not done with Pilgrimito, and I’m hardly done traveling. In fact, since the middle of last year, Kathryn and I have attended a wedding in Kauai, spent a week with family in New England, drove to all twenty-one of the Catholic missions in California, and of course made at least a couple weekend road trips to Las Vegas. Continue reading “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”

Hiking along Horton Creek Trail

Kathryn and I decided to take a break from our usual summer routine of doing absolutely nothing in the sweltering Phoenix heat. Instead, we made a day trip to the slightly cooler Payson area to do some hiking along Horton Creek, just under the Mogollon Rim in Tonto National Forest.

Last weekend, Kathryn and I decided to take a break from our usual summer routine of doing absolutely nothing in the sweltering Phoenix heat. Instead, we made a day trip to the slightly cooler Payson area to do some hiking along Horton Creek, just under the Mogollon Rim in Tonto National Forest. Continue reading “Hiking along Horton Creek Trail”

Gordon Ramsay Steak, Las Vegas

Shortly before the arrival of our main course at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas, my wife Kathryn leaned over to me and said, “This has been a very weird experience.” She was right. The service had been weird. Quite weird. However, the food was more than worth the weird.

Shortly before the arrival of our main course at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas, my wife Kathryn leaned over to me and said, “This has been a very weird experience.” She was right. The service had been weird. Quite weird. However, the food was more than worth the weird. Continue reading “Gordon Ramsay Steak, Las Vegas”

Another Las Vegas road trip

Another road trip to Las Vegas gets underway in just a few hours. We’re going to try some new places to eat this weekend, and we’ll return to some old favorites too. As always, you’ll find updates and maybe even a few photos here.

Another road trip to Las Vegas gets underway in just a few hours. We’re going to try some new places to eat this weekend, and we’ll return to some old favorites too. As always, you’ll find updates and maybe even a few photos here.

Southwest go-around

I’ve never been on a commercial flight that’s had to make a go-around, so it was fun to watch a Southwest flight do one at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport a few minutes ago. I’m sure it was a lot less fun for those aboard.

I’ve never been on a commercial flight that’s had to make a go-around, so it was fun to watch a Southwest flight do one at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport a few minutes ago. I’m sure it was a lot less fun for those aboard. Continue reading “Southwest go-around”

Bucket list

For what it’s worth, I’d be okay not to see another bucket list ever. It’s probably the most tired, overused travel blogging meme out there. I mean, how many 20-somethings are really expecting to die soon enough to need a bucket list?

For what it’s worth, I’d be okay not to see another bucket list ever. It’s probably the most tired, overused travel blogging meme out there. I mean, how many 20-somethings are really expecting to die soon enough to need a bucket list? Continue reading “Bucket list”

Memorial Day travels

If you’re taking to the road on this long weekend, please stay safe. Check your tire pressure and keep one or two gallons of drinking water in your car, especially here in the hot, arid Southwest. Summer weather is here, and I’ve noticed a lot of shredded tires on the freeways the past few weeks.

This coming Monday is Memorial Day in the United States and, if I’m not mistaken, a bank holiday in a number of other countries. Due to prior commitments, Kathryn and I are spending the holiday weekend close to home. Continue reading “Memorial Day travels”

Travel bloggers and freebies

I’ve been noticing a proliferation of travel blog posts that are outright bought and paid for by vendors. In and of itself, I don’t have a problem with that, assuming the proper disclosure. What does bother me is the shameful extent to which bloggers are eager to deny the transaction that took place, even going so far as to disclaim their own disclosures.

I read a lot of travel blogs. There are roughly 60 in my blog reader right now, and I visit others via links from various social networks. However, I myself am not a professional travel blogger. My wife and I travel for our own enjoyment, at our own expense, and sometimes I write about it. Continue reading “Travel bloggers and freebies”

Mother’s Day recognition

My mom and dad took a Mediterranean cruise about this time last year, to honor their 40 years of marriage. After an enjoyable and most uneventful cruise, my mom fell quite sick on the last day of the trip. They had to extend their stay a week, with my mom spending most of that in a state-run hospital in Civitavecchia, Italy. Recently my mom finished up her own series of blog posts about the trip, so I invite you to let her tell you the rest of the story.

I don’t often use my blog to pimp other blogs, but today is Mother’s Day here in the U.S., and we all make exceptions for our moms, right? Continue reading “Mother’s Day recognition”

How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

I like coffee. I enjoy fast food. I live in Phoenix. You might be inclined to think I’d be a master at ordering a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s. You’d be mistaken.

I like drinking coffee. I enjoy eating fast food. I live in Phoenix. You might be inclined to think I’d be a master at ordering a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s.

You’d be mistaken. Continue reading “How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix”

Another beautiful morning in Phoenix

I managed to get out of bed this morning in time for an early hike before work. It’s one of those few beautiful weeks we see every spring in Phoenix. The sun is up early enough to start a hike at 5:30 am, but it’s not too hot outside. Today was gorgeous. There was no discernible wind, and yet the air was clear. The brown cloud that normally covers the city during the week was nowhere to be seen.

I managed to get out of bed this morning in time for an early hike before work. It’s one of those few beautiful weeks we see every spring in Phoenix. The sun is up early enough to start a hike at 5:30 am, but it’s not too hot outside. Today was gorgeous. There was no discernible wind, and yet the air was clear. The brown cloud that normally covers the city during the week was nowhere to be seen.

Montpellier: Arc de Triomphe

While the most famous Arc de Triomphe in France is undoubtedly the one at in the Etoile in Paris, the one in Montpellier impresses its visitors nonetheless. It is located on Rue Foch in a posh shopping area of Montpellier, in the historic center of the city, just a short walk from Place de la Comédie and the train station.

While the most famous Arc de Triomphe in France is undoubtedly the one at the Étoile in Paris, this one in Montpellier impresses its visitors nonetheless. Continue reading “Montpellier: Arc de Triomphe”

St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix

I took this photo of St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix several weeks ago, just before dusk. I was at the church for a meeting, and I liked the way the bell towers looked through the trees.

I took this photo of St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix several weeks ago, just before dusk. I was at the church for a meeting, and I liked the way the bell towers looked through the trees. Continue reading “St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix”

Additional tips for hiking

After not hiking for three straight weeks, I ventured out early yesterday morning and did my favorite hike at Shaw Butte in Phoenix. It’s amazing how quickly I can get out of shape. As I struggled to climb the south side of the hill, I thought of some additional tips I forgot to mention in my earlier posts.

After not hiking for three straight weeks, I ventured out early on a recent morning and did my favorite hike at Shaw Butte in Phoenix. It’s amazing how quickly one can get out of shape. Continue reading “Additional tips for hiking”

Temporarily under construction

In addition to adding new content, I’m constantly tweaking the layout of this blog. This morning, on a whim, I reset the default blog theme, essentially casting aside a year’s worth of customizations. Over the next several days, you’ll see more changes than usual. Unless you’re viewing on a mobile phone, in which case you shouldn’t notice any change at all.

Maison Carrée in Nîmes

I took this picture of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, in 2004, during my late-summer European tour. As you can see, it was a beautiful, clear day when I visited Nîmes.

I took this picture of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, in 2004, during my late-summer European tour. As you can see, it was a beautiful, clear day when I visited Nîmes. Continue reading “Maison Carrée in Nîmes”

Reflections from the friendly skies

Although I usually bring a computer with me when I travel, I generally don’t use it when I’m on an airplane. I value my privacy. I prefer to pull out a paper notebook and a pen and write in cursive. Even someone sitting next to me would have to strain to decipher that.

Although I usually bring a computer with me when I travel, I generally don’t use it when I’m on an airplane. Since I can read what’s on everyone else’s laptop, I know they can read whatever’s on mine. I value my privacy. I prefer to pull out a paper notebook and a pen and write in cursive. Even someone sitting next to me would have to strain to decipher that. Continue reading “Reflections from the friendly skies”

Two cherubs in Brussels

I took this photo of a statue of two cherubs in Brussels in 2004. I wasn’t in Brussels but for roughly a day, and I don’t remember anymore where I took this picture or what the statue was called. It’s definitely not Mannequin Pis.

I took this photo of a statue of two cherubs in Brussels in 2004. I wasn’t in Brussels but for roughly a day, and I don’t remember anymore where I took this picture or what the statue was called. Continue reading “Two cherubs in Brussels”

Observations from Sky Harbor

I recently uninstalled all the social networking apps from my mobile phone, so I’ll make my pithy observations here on the blog. The following are a few of my thoughts from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix.

I recently uninstalled all the social networking apps from my mobile phone, so I’ll make my pithy observations here on the blog. The following are a few of my thoughts from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. Continue reading “Observations from Sky Harbor”

When a flight delay works in your favor

Shortly after passing through the security checkpoint at Sky Harbor, just before 5:00 am, we saw the departure monitor showing our flight to Charlotte would be delayed by 45 minutes. It turns out the first officer for the flight hadn’t shown up for work for some reason, so 45 minutes was just an estimate. In any event, we’d definitely miss our connection in Charlotte.

Flight delays are an inevitable part of air travel. Sometimes, though, they work out in your favor. Continue reading “When a flight delay works in your favor”

Florida bound later this week

Kathryn and I are bound for Florida later this week. We’ll be spending four nights with Kathryn’s aunt in a beachside condo about halfway between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce. I’m hoping to spend the time relaxing, although it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Kathryn and I are bound for Florida later this week. We’ll be spending four nights with Kathryn’s aunt in a beachside condo about halfway between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce. I’m hoping to spend the time relaxing, although it remains to be seen whether that will happen. Continue reading “Florida bound later this week”

Afternoon in Sète

Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore.

Sète is a coastal city in southern France, located a short drive or train ride from Montpellier, where I used to live. Sète has the vibe of a busy fishing village, making it a fun place to visit for an afternoon. I’d occasionally come for a seafood lunch at one of the tourist restaurants along the canals, then stroll to the harbor and along the shore. Continue reading “Afternoon in Sète”

Metro in Rome

When Kathryn and I were in Rome last winter, we used the public transit network extensively. The buses were most convenient for many of our trips, but we also used the Metro trains when we wanted to cover ground more quickly.

When Kathryn and I were in Rome last winter, we used the public transit network extensively. The buses were most convenient for many of our trips, but we also used the Metro trains when we wanted to cover ground more quickly. Continue reading “Metro in Rome”

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris

This photo, taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, was one of only a handful of couple photos Kathryn and I have from our travels in Europe in 2007. It was a mostly cloudy day in September, but the colors of the flowers seem to pop out.

This photo, taken in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, was one of only a handful of couple photos Kathryn and I have from our travels in Europe in 2007. Continue reading “Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris”

Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest in Munich

Kathryn and I were fortunate to spend an afternoon at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2007. Everyone has a favorite from among the major beer tents at Oktoberfest. Mine was the Hacker-Pschorr tent. The theme is charming and simple: Bavarian heaven.

Kathryn and I were able to spend part of a day at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2007. It seems everyone who has been to Oktoberfest has a favorite from among the major beer tents. My favorite is the Hacker-Pschorr tent. The theme is charming and simple: Bavarian heaven. Continue reading “Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest in Munich”

Notre Dame de Paris at night

After a long, romantic stroll along the Left Bank of the Seine late one evening in September 2007, Kathryn and I walked across Petit Pont to have a look at Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris. Kathryn snapped a few photos, including this one.

After a long, romantic stroll along the Left Bank of the Seine late one evening in September 2007, Kathryn and I walked across Petit Pont to have a look at Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris. Kathryn snapped a few photos, including this one. Continue reading “Notre Dame de Paris at night”

Cannes Film Festival

Back in the spring of 2003, I took a day trip to Cannes during its famous annual film festival. It was the last day of the festival, and most of the Hollywood celebrities had already come and gone. However, watching the European celebrities arrive for the final screening was no less glamorous.

Back in the spring of 2003, I took a day trip to Cannes during its famous annual film festival. It was the last day of the festival, and most of the Hollywood celebrities had already come and gone. However, watching the European celebrities arrive for the final screening was no less glamorous. Continue reading “Cannes Film Festival”

Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik

My digital camera died the first week of my six-week trip to Europe in 2006. Before it stopped working, I managed to get a few decent photos in Iceland, including this one of the Sun Voyager sculpture along the shore in Reykjavik.

My digital camera died the first week of my six-week trip to Europe in 2006. Before it stopped working, I managed to get a few decent photos in Iceland, including this one of the Sun Voyager sculpture along the shore in Reykjavik. Continue reading “Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik”

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard is an impressive, well preserved Roman aqueduct bridge. It was built in the first century A.D. to supply fresh water to nearby Nîmes. It continued to be used as a toll bridge for many centuries after the aqueduct fell into disrepair.

Between being rather busy at work this week — and also suffering a bout of writer’s block — I’m going to let another photo do the talking today. This one was taken in 2003 at Pont du Gard in the south of France. Continue reading “Pont du Gard”

My first sports wager

I placed my first-ever sports wager while I was in Las Vegas last Sunday. I was getting ready to watch the AFC Championship Game in a casino bar, conveniently located about a hundred feet from the sports book. It seemed like the thing to do.

I placed my first-ever sports wager while I was in Las Vegas last Sunday. I was getting ready to watch the AFC Championship Game in a casino bar, conveniently located about a hundred feet from the sports book. It seemed like the thing to do. Continue reading “My first sports wager”

Nora’s Cuisine

When Kathryn and I make our regular road trips to Las Vegas, we typically leave Phoenix after work Friday, in the middle of the afternoon. If all goes well, we arrive in Las Vegas in the early evening. Usually we arrive without any specific plans, and we just sort of wing it. There’s no shortage of things to do there, but we often feel like we could have used our arrival evening more wisely. So last week, before leaving Phoenix, I decided to make a dinner reservation for 8:30.

When Kathryn and I make our regular road trips to Las Vegas, we typically leave Phoenix after work Friday, in the middle of the afternoon. If all goes well, we arrive in Las Vegas in the early evening. Usually we arrive without any specific plans, and we just sort of wing it. There’s no shortage of things to do there, but we often feel like we could have used our arrival evening more wisely. So last week, before leaving Phoenix, I decided to make a dinner reservation for 8:30. This would leave us plenty of time to check in at our hotel and freshen up, and it would also give us something to look forward to along the way. Continue reading “Nora’s Cuisine”

Odd start to the day in Las Vegas

Our room has a view of the mountains to the west of Las Vegas. We arrived after dark last night, so we couldn’t see them then. When we woke up this morning, we still couldn’t see them. There had been some rain overnight, and the mountains were obscured by clouds. The ground was wet, and the wind was howling. It suddenly seemed like not such a great day to go hiking. So we ditched the plan and decided to see a morning movie instead.

Our room has a view of the mountains to the west of Las Vegas. We arrived after dark last night, so we couldn’t see them then. Continue reading “Odd start to the day in Las Vegas”

Safe arrival in Las Vegas

It turns out people use this blog to check in on us when we travel. Kathryn and I hadn’t yet made it to Kingman when she received a text message from a concerned friend wondering if we were okay. Yes, the road from Phoenix to Las Vegas is not the safest of journeys, but to set minds at ease, we arrived in one piece and checked into our room a few minutes ago.

It turns out people use this blog to check in on us when we travel. Kathryn and I hadn’t yet made it to Kingman when she received a text message from a concerned friend wondering if we were okay. Continue reading “Safe arrival in Las Vegas”

Going places: January edition

Well, folks, I’ve had a good, long two-week rest from my blog. It’s time to sit down and catch you up on where I’m going and what I’m doing. For your reading pleasure, here’s the latest edition of my not-quite-monthly “going places” series.

Well, folks, I’ve had a good, long two-week rest from my blog. It’s time to sit down and catch you up on where I’m going and what I’m doing. For your reading pleasure, here’s the latest installment of my not-quite-monthly “going places” series. Continue reading “Going places: January edition”

Two easy ways to see the Pope in Rome

There are two easy ways to see the Pope when you’re in Rome. Kathryn and I were able to see him both ways during our visit to Rome earlier this year. As long as the Pope isn’t away from the city for his vacation or for an apostolic visit, you should be able to see him too.

There are two easy ways to see the Pope when you’re in Rome. Kathryn and I were able to see him both ways during our visit to Rome earlier this year. As long as the Pope isn’t away from the city for his vacation or for an apostolic visit, you should be able to see him too. Continue reading “Two easy ways to see the Pope in Rome”

More photos from Shaw Butte

Not a lot of words in this blog post. Just some photos from a recent hike at Shaw Butte. The hike was later in the morning than usual. The sun was bright, which put me in a black-and-white mood.

Not a lot of words in this blog post. Just some photos from a recent hike at Shaw Butte. The hike was later in the morning than usual. The sun was bright, which put me in a black-and-white mood. Continue reading “More photos from Shaw Butte”

Smog cloud over Phoenix

During a hike last weekend at Shaw Butte, I pointed my camera south and took a picture of downtown Phoenix under a thick layer of smog.

During a hike last weekend at Shaw Butte, I pointed my camera south and took a picture of downtown Phoenix under a thick layer of smog. I converted the photo to black-and-white to bring out the detail of the buildings. Continue reading “Smog cloud over Phoenix”

Last day in Las Vegas

It turns out I didn’t get the sunrise photos I wanted on our last day in Las Vegas. It was raining when the sun came up and still raining when we left the hotel, although the rain let up early in the morning. We did find a decent donut shop, found a beautiful Sunday Mass, and had lunch with our friend Kerrie, with whom we couldn’t connect Friday evening.

It turns out I didn’t get the sunrise photos I wanted on our last day in Las Vegas. It was raining when the sun came up and still raining when we left the hotel, although the rain let up early in the morning. However, we did find a decent donut shop, found a beautiful Sunday Mass, and had lunch with our friend Kerrie, with whom we couldn’t seem to connect Friday evening. Continue reading “Last day in Las Vegas”

Eating and relaxing in Las Vegas

Our weekend trips to Las Vegas tend to be busy. We usually cram everything we possibly can into the less-than-48 hours we’ll be here. Sleep comes only out of necessity. So it’s a little weird that I’m starting a new post at 6:20 am, after getting a full night’s sleep and then some. I think we were in bed by 9 pm. That’s pretty lame.

Our weekend trips to Las Vegas tend to be busy. We usually cram everything we possibly can into the less-than-48 hours we’ll be here. Sleep comes only out of necessity. So it’s a little weird that I’m starting a new post at 6:20 am, after getting a full night’s sleep and then some. I think we were in bed by 9 pm. That’s pretty lame. Continue reading “Eating and relaxing in Las Vegas”

New day in Las Vegas

It’s just after dawn here in Las Vegas. I’ve been awake for an hour or so, and I’m working on my second cup of shitty in-room coffee. Our room at the Orleans has a view of the Strip. Since we’re west of the Strip, I’ve been watching the sun rise over Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and the McCarran airport.

It’s just after dawn here in Las Vegas. I’ve been awake for an hour or so, and I’m working on my second cup of shitty in-room coffee. Our room at the Orleans has a view of the Strip. Since we’re west of the Strip, I’ve been watching the sun rise over Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and the McCarran airport. Continue reading “New day in Las Vegas”

Halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas: Wikieup, Arizona

On previous trips, we’ve often stopped at the Wikieup Trading Post. They make a pretty mean patty melt. The problem is that it became played out for us, stopping the same place every time. That, and the fact their bathrooms are beyond disgusting. This time, we stopped at Dazzo’s Chicago Style Eatery. I can’t speak from experience to the authenticity of the place, but the food was pretty good.

Roughly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas is a place — I hesitate to call it a town — called Wikieup. It’s a perfect spot to stop for a bathroom break and a bite to eat. Continue reading “Halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas: Wikieup, Arizona”