We recently returned from a lovely two weeks in Switzerland (with brief side trips to France, Germany, and Italy).  I hope eventually to post more pictures and stories, but here's a start.

Just over a week before our scheduled departure from the U.S., the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, threw a spanner into the works for European flights.  Porter wrestled for a while with changing our itinerary to go through airports less risky than Amsterdam's Schiphol, but with the ash cloud as unpredictable as it was, decided the best course was to hand on to what we had.  We did what we always do when there's nothing else we can do (and even when there is):  we prayed a lot.  Unlike that of our friend who needed to get to her brother's funeral (she made it), this was not a critical flight, but the primary purpose of the trip was to attend Janet's end-of-school recital, and we would have been very sad to miss it, having not yet heard any of her grad school performances. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Edit
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The Franklin Insitute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I don't remember my first visit to the Franklin Institute; I believe it must have been on some visit to Philadelphia when I was very young; all I remember was walking through the heart.  Later, however, we moved to the Philadelphia area, and were regular visitors.  For two summers I worked in the Franklin Institute Research Labs in the building next door, and even more important to me than my paycheck was the ID badge that allowed me to take the tunnel between the buildings and spend most of my lunch hours in the museum.

After he retired, my dad became a Franklin Institute volunteer, and it was natural for him to take his grandchildren there when they came to visit.  By that time, the museum had grown an addition, with new exhibits that made it look like any modern science museum, but the kids' favorite, and my own, was the old building, with its greater educational content and more detailed, written information with each exhibit.  Now Dad's grandchildren have children of their own, and on our recent visit to Philadelphia we all looked forward to watching them delight in our old favorites. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 9:18 am | Edit
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I briefly reviewed the wonderful Claude Moore Colonial Farm back in 2005.  It's time for an update, because there's a great article about the place and its people on Slate.  Don't miss the video, which I can't figure out how to imbed here since it's not YouTube or a similar site.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 11:15 am | Edit
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After all the travelling we did in the last quarter of 2008 and in January of 2009, I, the homebody, was really ready to enjoy a few months with nowhere to go. But "the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley," and in this case I'm thrilled.

Ever since we moved away from Boston, I'd been waiting for Porter to get a job assignment back there so I could stay with him while doing research at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library on Newbury Street.  He's been all over the country, but never to Boston...until now. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 9, 2009 at 8:32 am | Edit
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Many people travel on business.  It's not an easy life, and different people have different strategies for coping with the stress and boredom.  Some appreciate the opportunity to explore new cities; some enjoy the perks of nicer hotels, restaurants, and even golf courses than they would otherwise be able to afford; some accumulate airline and hotel points and use them to provide their families with otherwise unreachable opportunities.  There are also those who take advantage of the relative anonymity and distance from home and family to indulge in wanton behavior.

Some businessmen, however, wax poetic.  Don't miss this offering from our favorite thduggie.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 9:00 am | Edit
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The life of a travelling businessman is not easy, but rain brings rainbows, at least if you look from a favorable angle.  My recent trip to Phoenix was such a rainbow. You'd think that an introvert like me would not be eager to leave home so soon after having been away for a month, but this was the time that was available—and it turned out to be perfect.

Fly Southwest airlines in the middle of the week, and you can get away with forgetting to print your boarding pass until four hours after check-in opens, as I did once and still got a boarding slot in the A-30's.  Fridays, however, are filled with savvy businessmen anxious to return home; Porter still snagged an A-30's number for me, but had to check in during the first couple of minutes to do so.  Due to his many flights on Southwest, his own A-list number is guaranteed.  Southwest is currently my favorite airline, they having so far been able to resist charging for normal luggage, drinks, and snacks.  Little things, I know, but their value in generating positive feelings toward the airline is disproportionate to the cost, at least in my case.  Conversely, I feel a lot worse about USAirways than their extra charges would actually merit. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 10:57 am | Edit
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While waiting at the computer, and feeling a little nostalgic for Basel, I found this, which I post for those who wish to see a bit of where they will be in a few months.  Be sure to show Jonathan the Hammering Man.  If I don't look at the feet I can imagine the runner is Janet.  :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm | Edit
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Last Saturday we returned to the Van Fleet Trail and rode the second third, from the Bay Lake Trailhead to the Green Pond Road Trailhead, another round trip of about 20 miles.

As we were riding on the straight, flat, paved trail in the middle of nowhere, no motor vehicles to worry about and almost no other bicyclists, I laughed a little at our habit of wearing bike helmets.  When we began the practice, wearing a helmet was awkward and several times we forgot to put them on; now it's nearly as automatic as buckling our seatbelts in the car.  But a trail like this is safer than just pedaling down our very safe, isolated, residential street.

Or so we thought. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 6, 2007 at 6:32 am | Edit
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We ventured further last weekend, driving to Clermont and the General James. A. Van Fleet State Trail.  Porter was all for doing the whole 30 miles from one end to the other, but I voted for going in stages.  This time we biked about a third of the way, 19+ miles, from the Mabel Trailhead to the Bay Lake Trailhead and back.

The Van Fleet Trail is straight and flat, and apparently popular with those who want to race and time their biking, so it is well marked in miles and tenths, much more reliably than any other trail we've been on.  Thus I was able to check the calibration of my odometer, and was pleased that it appears to be off by less than half a percent.

This is one of Florida's most rural trails, and thus a pleasant ride.  We were not there at the best time of day to see wildlife, but the sights did get better after the dead rat in the parking lot.  A rabbit bounded across the trail in front of us, we saw a few tortoises, and heard innumerable birds.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at 10:15 am | Edit
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We were exhausted after our return from Switzerland, and our trip was a lot shorter and easier than Janet's will be, so I'm sure she'll appreciate your prayers.  She has four flights, ground transportation between two airports in New York, long wait times, and about 24 hours of travel—if all goes well—to look forward to.  Good thing she's younger than we are.  :)

It sure will be good to see her!
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 25, 2007 at 7:06 am | Edit
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Yesterday we thought we'd do a few short stretches of trail to cover the northernmost portions of the Cross-Seminole Trail and the Seminole Wekiva Trail.  We thought it would be shorter than it turned out to be, and before we were done I was regretting not having been more generous with the sunblock, but we managed to avoid sunburn anyway, despite the unshaded nature of much of our ride.

We parked at St. Peter's Church, which is located adjacent to the trail and provides a convenient rest area with tables, bike parking, and potable water for weary travellers (a generous interpretation of Matthew 10:42).  We headed north briefly, soon coming to the end of the line and turning around through a cemetery. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 17, 2007 at 12:02 pm | Edit
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Tropical Storm Barry brought us a night's worth of good, soaking rain, our first significant rain in many months and much needed.  The forecast was for rain all Saturday, too, but the radar looked reasonably clear in the morning so we paid another visit to Leu Gardens.

The effect of just one night's rain was amazing.  Already the plants had lifted their hearts to heaven, puttin out new growth and blossoms.  Except for a wedding party, I think most people were kept away by the forecast, because we had our own private garden for most of the time. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 4, 2007 at 8:30 am | Edit
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Before I write about today's bike ride, I have to clear the backlog and tell you about last weekend's.

The Cross Seminole Trail is not yet complete, and voters defeated the minuscule property tax increase that would have paid to purchase environmentally sensitive lands and built recreational trails, so we're not waiting for its completion to do what we can. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 9:32 pm | Edit
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Two weeks ago, after our exhausting off-road biking adventure, we paid a visit to Fort Christmas.  We went there several times when the girls were young, on our own and for Indian Princess outings.  But that was a long time ago.  The girls have grown a lot since then, and so has the fort.

They now have a large collection of old Florida houses, and we enjoyed a trip back in time as we wandered from one to another.  Bear in mind that Florida is a young state, even if it does have our country's oldest city.  Sometimes it seems more like the Wild West than the East Coast. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 7:55 am | Edit
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Porter put the bikes on the back of the car again this morning, and we headed off to the Tosohatchee State Reserve near Christmas.  That's Christmas, Florida—we're still much nearer Memorial Day than Christmas.

We knew this would be a different kind of ride.  We knew it would be on unpaved trails through a wilderness area, and we thought we were prepared.  We had sunscreen and bug repellent, emergency bike kit (tube, CO2 cartridge for inflating same, patches, wrench, and those little thingies for helping you put the tire back on the rim), water to drink, and cell phones.  Knowing we'd be in a game preserve, we also had a monocular and a camera.  We had a change of clothes and a picnic lunch waiting in the car for our return.

"Unpaved trails."  I was expecting something like the crushed-shell-and-sand trail at our local park.  Silly me. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 7:04 am | Edit
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