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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin at the Cathedral of Chartres

During our week in Paris, we were able to work in a day trip to Chartres, where we visited the famous Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, among other things. The trip produced what is probably my favorite photo of the week, so rather than waiting to do a full write-up on the visit, I’m just going to post the photo now. Altar sculpture at Chartres Cathedral

Safely home from Paris

By the way, we’re safely home from Paris and back in Phoenix, as we have been for the past six days. I just realized I forgot to update my blog with that info, although anyone who might care likely already knows. More photos and stories to follow … eventually.

The coast of Greenland from 38,000 feet

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. Greenland coast

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. Here’s how it happened. 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. More… »

Eiffel Tower twinkling at night

Without further ado, I present a few seconds of video of the Eiffel Tower while it was twinkling at the top of the hour. A twinkling Eiffel Tower at night

Eiffel Tower in the fog

Kathryn took this photo of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Montparnasse Tower. It gives you an idea of the weather we’ve been dealing with in Paris. Fog over the Eiffel Tower

Safe arrival in Paris

Kathryn and I have arrived safely in Paris. It was snowing at Charles de Gaulle Airport when we landed, and it’s still snowing in Paris as I write. More to follow later.

Latest adventure underway

Our latest adventure is now underway. The most stress-inducing part of any trip by air for me — the TSA gauntlet — is safely behind us. More… »

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

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. Too preoccupied to write

Hiking along Horton Creek Trail

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. Hiking at Horton Creek near Payson

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. Dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak, 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.

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. Go-around at Phoenix Sky Harbor

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? Bucket list meme

Memorial Day travels

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. Have a safe Memorial Day

Travel bloggers and freebies

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. Travel bloggers and freebies

Mother’s Day recognition

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? Recognizing my mom's blog

How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

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. 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.

Montpellier: Arc de Triomphe

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. Photo of the Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier

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. St. Mary's Basilica in Phoenix

Additional tips for hiking

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. Safety 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. Photo of the 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. 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. Reflections on flying

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. Statue of two cherubs in Brussels

Rental car nightmare

Yesterday may have been my worst day of travel ever, at least in terms of what went wrong. Still, it wasn’t all that bad. Car rental gone bad

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. Pithy observations from Sky Harbor

When a flight delay works in your favor

Flight delays are an inevitable part of air travel. Sometimes, though, they work out in your favor. Flight delay at Sky Harbor

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. Long weekend in Florida

Afternoon in Sète

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. Photo of 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. Riding the 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. Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest in Munich

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. Beer tent at Oktoberfest Munich

Pilgrimito at Shaw Butte

If there’s one thing this blog is lacking, it’s recent photos of me. On that note, I’m posting this photo Kathryn took of me Sunday while we were out hiking at Shaw Butte here in Phoenix. Pilgrimito at Shaw Butte

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. Notre Dame after dark

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. Photo from 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. Photo of Sun Voyager

Pont du Gard

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. Photo of Pont du Gard

Baby’s first bath

This was one of my favorite photos from our trip to Europe in 2007. It was taken at a rest area, just off the autobahn in Austria. View photo

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. Sports betting in Las Vegas

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. 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. Nora's Cuisine in Las Vegas

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. Odd start 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. Safely arrived 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 installment of my not-quite-monthly “going places” series. Going places, January 2012

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. 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. Late morning 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. I converted the photo to black-and-white to bring out the detail of the buildings. Brown cloud choking 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. 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. Leaving Las Vegas