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I meant to blog something on the San Diego trip (week before last) before heading out again, but it didn't happen. Maybe those notes will get written up sometime, just as a personal memory entry.

Anyway, this week I'm in Albuquerque for a meeting Tuesday-Thursday, the annual get-together for the user group for the USGS groundwater database. San Diego was the meeting for the water-use user group--I'm crazy enough to try to sit on both groups. I'd first thought to come to ABQ on Saturday and have a couple of days for sightseeing, but the amount of travel I've got right now made that less attractive and I changed my flight reservation.

I flew in last night around dinner time, and met up with others from the user group at the airport (after returning my personal rental car) this afternoon at 3. Not much time in the middle, but it was lovely. With very little lead time I emailed [ profile] idiotgrrl to see if she might be available for a MiniLoisCon of sorts, or failing that, just offer some recommendations for half-day sightseeing that wouldn't stress my bum ankle. Indeed, she was available, and in the end chauffeured me around all morning.

We started out with breakfast (huevos rancheros) at the Frontier Restaurant, right across from one of the main entrances to UNM. We made a quick swing by [ profile] idiotgrrl's house for me to meet the cats, but only Spot and Shadow were At Home--I'd so wanted to meet Dufus Claudius, too. However, both Pat and I were amazed that Shadow let me actually enter the doorway of the room he was in before deciding to leave by the cat window.

We then headed off to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which turned out to be a nice little museum with two primary exhibits--one on life through geologic time with emphasis on New Mexico's geologic history (and lots of dinosaurs), and a smaller exhibit on space exploration, again making the NM connections. They had a really great exhibit/art piece/don't know what to call it in the main lobby, a backlit piece that was a desert scene. What made it unique was the collection of polarized filters in a little holder for you to grab, then view the piece through a filter while rotating it. The scene went through several shifts as the light changed: the mountain lion in the foreground appeared, then showed in fossil form. An eagle flying over with a rattlesnake in its talons appeared and disappeared. Just a really neat idea, well executed.

We didn't do the planetarium show or the nearby exploratorium, but wandered through the gift shop and then sat and chatted in the little snack bar. It was nice that the museum let us both in for free on my Fernbank Museum membership card, too. After that, Pat ran me back to my hotel by the scenic route, giving me a little more orientation to Albuquerque on the way.

After saying goodbye to Pat, I made a quick grocery store run before returning my car, then met up with 2 of the other user group members at the airport to get a ride back to the hotel. Another 3 members appeared while we chatted in the hotel lobby, and the group decided (surprise!) on Mexican/New Mexican cuisine for dinner, at Monroe's. I had a bowl of Cream of Green Chile Chicken soup with a house-made flour tortilla--good, though the flour tortilla at the Frontier had Monroe's beat by a mile.

Meeting starts tomorrow, so any additional sight-seeing will have to be in the evening after work...
nlbarber: (Default)
The Groundwater Users Group meeting started Tuesday and went through today, meeting at the local USGS office on the campus of Portland State University. The meeting was pretty productive, but I was less so than usual as Tuesday I came down with a cold. As colds go it's not too severe, but I'm coughing, sniffing, and wheezing, and my voice is threatening to go. Made it rather hard today when I was presenting a topic and the discussion went long--I ended up taking a coughing fit out in the hall towards the end. But I survived, and I hope I managed to keep my germs to myself.

I skipped dinner on Tuesday for an early evening, and skipped the excursion to Multnomah Falls yesterday to spare everyone else my germs in the 15-passenger van. As they left at about 3:30 for that trip, I took the streetcar to a Safeway for cold medicines, then on to Pioneer Square to a Moonstruck Chocolates store for truffles. This evening everyone went separate ways, so I found a good hamburger at a local chain called Stanfords--there was one three blocks from my hotel.

Tomorrow I catch a van to the airport at 9, and am armed with *real* Pseudophed for the flight courtesy of Dorrie. I discovered to my horror that Pseudophed requires a prescription in Oregon, instead of just being a 'behind the counter' medication as it is in Georgia. Funny thing about colds--everyone wants to give you their remedy for it. I took the Emergen-C (vitamin C plus some other stuff) from Eve, declined Greg's Zicam, and as I said fell on the offer of Pseudophed from Dorrie. Hopefully the ears will stay unblocked so the flight won't be to unpleasant. I'll be trying hard to keep my cold germs away from my fellow passengers.
nlbarber: (Default)
I've been in Portland, Oregon all week for the annual groundwater users group (GWUG) meeting, plus a little mini-vacation. "Mini" as in "flew out Sunday instead of Monday to allow for a day of sightseeing". It worked out wonderfully well, thanks to a friend and his wife.

the details of the sightseeing... )

From there we went further south to a beach near Salishan (a high-end development), and had a long beach walk just enjoying the pounding of the surf and the cool air. Then it was time to start back, but we did go on south to Newport to pick up US 20 to head west. Then it was over to Corvallis, where they gave me a glimpse of Oregon State (where their younger daughter is in school), and then north to Portland. A very long day, but lots of fun...
nlbarber: (Default)
Between two trips, that is. And two committee meetings, the purpose of the trips. Chicago was the water-use user group (database users, that is), and I'm en route to Portland, OR for the groundwater user group. I'm on both of these because the two disciplines share a lot of issues and a lot of database functionailty.

Odd training, and other stuff )

So I'm on the way to Portland--I used a chunk of the 5 hour flight time for working on my part of the upcoming meeting, but of course found I need an Internet connection to do it all. Tonight and tomorrow I'll be getting together with a friend who retired last year and his wife. Dinner tonight, and tomorrow they offered to take me on an excursion to the Oregon coast. Tuesday the groundwater user group meeting starts, and Tuesday night I'll have a mini-Pifflefest with Kay/oregon_katy. Wednesday evening the GW group will compress our work day and take off in mid-afternoon to drive to Multnomah Falls on the Columbia River gorge. Thursday evening is open--I will probably try to include a visit to Moonstruck Chocolates as part of my evening. Should be a nice combination of work and fun.
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Last day of the meeting went well--the sticky issue of earlier in the week has been put aside for brainstorming on later, so we prioritized lists of things, looked at a demo or two, and had some general discussion on how the group has been functioning. After leaving the office, most everyone assembled at the hotel bar for a happy hour, and Bill A., head of the program office that sponsors this committee, joined us--he'd been in the meeting off and on, as he's based here in SD.

Eventually a group of 7 of us set off for dinner, and ended up at Bali Hai, a Polynesian restaurant on Shelter Island, close to the hotel. Despite tourist-trap decor, the food was quite good, though neither my entree (grilled pork loin with an orange-hoisin sauce) nor dessert (macadamia nut brownie with coffee gelato) was exceptional. Maybe 'perfectly acceptable' is better for the food descriptor. The view was again wonderful--another angle on the SD harbor, as dusk settled in and the downtown lights came on across the water.

We dropped Chuck at the airport, as he's taking a red-eye flight out tonight. The rest of us dribble out over tomorrow morning--I have a 9:15 flight, and will catch the hotel shuttle to the airport around 7:30.
nlbarber: (Default)
Let's's still beautiful. Meeting is going smoothly--we almost stopped at 3:30 today when we got through the afternoon's agenda, but went back to revisit a snarled issue from yesterday instead. That remains snarled, though.

Then it was off to the harbor cruise after a quick stop at the hotel. We got the 5:30, 1-hour tour of the south harbor. (Snippets of "a three-hour tour" were sung as we walked...and we wondered if any boat tour operator dares offer a three hour tour anyway.) That was nice--mostly views of Navy ships and installations, this being a huge Navy port. Coronado was pointed out as the very upscale place to live--"the admirals' island"--and the restaurant where Linda and I ate Sunday was pointed out for its interesting split roof. We hadn't noticed that at the time...

After the tour we all headed to The Fish Market restaurant, which had also been pointed out on the tour. (Yes, I imagine there was financial compensation for the advertising.) There we split into two groups, one at "Top of the Market", the upstairs section, and the other at the main level Fish Market. "Top" turned out to be the more upscale, and that's where I ended up in a group of 8. Lovely views of the harbor, and lovely food. I had grilled scallops on garlicky broccoli rabe with grilled tomatoes and roasted potatoes, the scallops and tomatoes sprinkled with a tapenade. Really, really good.

We had a nice stroll back along the water to the cars, as we had misjudged and parked some distance from the boat tour location. That took us by the USS Midway, now a museum, and the Star of India, the HMS Surprise, and more of the SD Maritime Museum's collection. Oh, I could spend a long time being a tourist in SD!
nlbarber: (Default)
And it's been another lovely day in San Diego, though with unusual (I gather) clouds in the morning and evening. Temps are in the mid-70's, cooling to the 60's after sundown. My supervisor called today (wanted permission to give my personal cell number to a co-worker who flew in for the meeting today) and said Atlanta was in the 90's with thunderstorms to keep the humidity high. I'll take SD even with clouds.

Meeting went smoothly today, Visiting with Gail )

Post-prandial activity: in search of beach )

Anyway, it was very pleasant, and much better timing for dinner and exercise for my preferences than last night. Tomorrow we are having sandwiches brought in for lunch to have a round-table discussion with any of the local office staff who are interested, and after work most of us are going on a harbor cruise/tour. Only an hour--my predilection for sea-sickness should hold off that long in protected waters. I hope.
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I'm back from the San Diego Zoo visit, and it was wonderful! Write-up will have to be later though, as I joined my work compatriots for a dinner excursion that went a lot later than I wanted to be out and I need to go to bed.

The dinner excursion involved a caravan of 3 vehicles to Pacific Beach, struggles to find parking during which one car got separated and we never met back up with them, a longish walk on the beach to satisfy those who wanted exercise (I'd had plenty at the Zoo, but...), then a longer search for a place to eat that met mixed requirements. Lynn needed either a patio seating so he could keep his dog nearby, or would take her back to his car. Linda wanted "grab and go". Chuck and Ron weren't sure they wanted to eat at all for the sake of their waistlines, but as it got late, they got hungry. Nobody wanted fancy, but nobody wanted fast food. John wants cheap (he'd have accepted the fast food options.) We eventually found a Pizzeria Uno with a patio, made a few remarks about coming to San Diego to a) eat in a chain restaurant and b) eat Chicago-style pizza, and had dinner about 8:30 PM. Add in a rather circuitously navigated route back to the hotel, and we didn't get back until almost 10. If tomorrow's dinner plan is similar, I'll opt out and walk to something near the hotel.
nlbarber: (Default)
And it's time for the other national committee I'm on to meet, and the chosen location is San Diego. The official meeting starts Tuesday (a subcommittee I've been careful to stay away from is meeting Monday), but I came out today because I've never been to San Diego, and I want to go to the zoo.

Starts smooth, then there was that turn for Albuquerque... )

Long wait for a car )

Met up with a friend, and we wander to Coronado )

Tomorrow it's off to the zoo.


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