Category: travel


We took our first trip to Mexico recently, staying on the coast down akumal way, picture below. Tranquil hardly begins to describe it. Managed to swim with green sea turtles, survey some Mayan ruins, indulge a little in the local cuisine and just generally relax with family/friends. A great respite, returned refreshed to H-town, but ready to go back to Mexico asap, maybe Merida next time.





Alas the wolfsburg died as it lived- painfully. Exsanguinated on I-45 by a piece of it’s own undercarriage to be precise. Apparently some debris broke off a corner of the drip pan, which proceeded to rotate into the transmission like a buzzsaw. Nice.

There’s nothing quite like finding out that your expensive DSG transmission is toast, which happened for the first time during a snowstorm in PA at ~ 50k. To have it happen a second time with ~99k on the clock meant that it was time for the knackery. Here’s hoping that the new vehicle is less of a money-pit. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to look at some expensive mods for my wrx.

vacay in WA

After a successful day or so at Collision in New Orleans, we moseyed on up to Seattle for some R&R. Stayed first night next to the Safeco field, turns out the Mariners were playing that night. Enjoyed a meal in a raucous restaurant attached the SilverCloud, set out next morning for Pike place and provisions. The markets offered up a pleasant sensory overload. We picked up smoked salmon, hand made cheese, fresh donuts among many other items. Made the obligatory stop at the original Starbucks, ate at a Bavarian place that did a very decent breakfast.

On the way out of town, stopped by Mischief distillery in Fremont, for likely the best tour and tasting we’ve ever had. Our gracious host regaled us with the recent history, the sourcing of the (sustainable) rye exclusively from WA and area farmers. One of our favorite whiskeys was aged aboard a boat featured on deadliest catch.

From Fremont we drove out to snoqualmie in order to nerd out over the twin peaks revival, shot out that way. Stayed in the great northern hotel aka salish lodge, walking as much as possible over to the falls to take it all in. Supped on the salmon and other vittles from Pike place, washed down with Rye. Locals were accommodating and warm, especially in the town cafe(s) near the train museum and when making the obligatory stop by the double R diner in north bend aka twede’s cafe. Also managed to seek out the sawmill and a couple of other iconic locations.

Saturday we bid a fond farewell to twin peaks and drove on down to St Helens and the Cascades. Day was a little overcast (surprise!), the highest roads through the park still closed, but the cascades remarkable nonetheless. Shot over to yakima in the afternoon, took in the delights of N Front street including hop nation brewery, antolin cellars and 5 north for dinner. Our host Rob at the cellars was good enough to send us to the other destinations, including carousel for brunch the next morning, for quite literally the best pancakes we’ve ever had. Again the locals were extremely kind and forthcoming, especially over at hop nation.

Sunday before jetting back to Houston we took in Fremont and it’s market one last time, with final stop at our namesake, Brouwer’s cafe for the stout fest and the world’s best (lamb) shepherd’s pie. I did my best to put a dent in their extravagant and delicious list. Bliss ūüôā Thanks WA, you’re every bit as cool if not more so than CA.


sleigh bells @ granada theater

We made the trek to Dallas last weekend in the wolfsburg with new front suspension, making the ride on 45 north out of Houston slightly less hazardous than usual. Upon arrival, checked into the beautiful Magnolia hotel, former home to the old oil company of the same name (that ultimately became Mobil), replete with exquisite tiled ceilings and décor, circa early 20C.  Our uber driver informed us on the way to the Granada Theater that lower Greenville is home to a not insignificant St Patrick’s day parade, confirmed on arrival by the swaying lime green crowds. Swell. Turned out to be quite a friendly group, we even made some new friends in the hours before the Sleigh Bells show. Euphoric is the only way to describe their performance,  one that still reverberates in the ears and gladdens the heart. So very glad we made the pilgrimage.




going dutch

After an idyllic KLM flight, we drove bleary eyed from Schipol in our microscopic rental to Oud Charlois in Rotterdam. Upon arrival we negotiated a park on the street the dimensions of a postage stamp, explored our temporary digs and crashed in the attic sleeping space. Emerged from a mild coma and set out in search of provisions several hours later.  In the evening,we reunited with dear old family at Schipol, together greeting the folks as they arrived from Brisbane via Seol.

Breakfast next morning was assembled from the efforts of our sleepy recon the day before. Lazy day spent walking the streets of Schiedam with mom, taking in the charm of the town lined with windmills along meandering canals. In the evening we hosted dinner for the folks and Aunt Riet back home. Sunday we reunited with Rob, Eve and their delightful boys, attending church together and catching up over lunch.

Lingered in Leiden Monday morning, before attending a singalong at a retirement home in Oegstgeest with Koos. An elderly gentleman sang us a hymn and blessing. My dear wife teared up. A coffee later at Katwijk, dipped the toes in the Noord Zee and dined at the pancake house in Liederdoorp. I made the regrettable decision to order a pancake with anchovies.

Tuesday was Nolet distillery, where we were regaled with several hundred years of history by our gracious host Pim.  Off to Delft in the afternoon for a relaxing stroll with the folks. Wonderful to see them smiling and happy. Wednesday we met gracious friend and der reiseleiter Ralf by the German border ,who took us along the Rhine from Bonn to Linz and back. We saw many quaint old towns along the  river, nestled among the foothills. Afternoon tea consisted of strudel and coffee, shortly followed by dinner back in Bonn. Thursday returned to Schiedam, for one last stroll around town. Entertained again that night in Oud Charlois, introducing our guests to Tex Mex, courtesy of Albert Hein.

Friday off to Gorinchem to visit a kindly aunt. From there a drive to Arnhem after lunch, and we launched ourselves through the old town for what felt like five minutes before meeting with Rob and Eve and the boys in Ede for dinner. A sublime meal and walk through the woods. Friday we moved to new lodgings, citizen M in Rotterdam near the equally modern looking Markthal. Our colorful shoebox was well appointed.

Saturday off to Konigshaven and La Trappe brewery for amazing beer. One of the old Monk’s asked if I was a hipster. Sunday, church and in the evening dinner with more family. We pored over and admired my uncle’s fine landscape designs, a few copies of which now proudly hang on our walls. I kicked back my last dutch pils for a while. Monday headed back out to Houston, very sorry to say goodbye to family, friends and Nederlands. A few pics here…

science cafe

Recently we stopped by the European Science Caf√© held in Montrose, for an event hosted by the Consulate General of France in Houston. We were¬†delighted to hear Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano give a truly inspirational talk on his time at the international space station. Here’s a pic with the speaker and Bec; big thanks to Paolo for the recommendation!


CA dreaming

We took several wonderful days to tour NoCal a few months ago, starting on the peninsula April 15. I made some new friends at an exciting startup in Redwood City, Bec took her first surf lesson over in Pacifica. That evening after eating down by the sea, we picked up besties and family nathe and liz from SFO, thereafter grabbing a bite down in half moon bay at the silver star grill. Next day saw us over in the valley again. Around lunch we drove on down to Carmel, for an amazing afternoon strolling through town, along the beaches and supping at the exquisite rooftop bar of Vesuvio.

That evening saw us take in Monterey Bay by way of the warf, complemented by a jaunt along 17 mile drive. Friday we moved on over to Yosemite through the fruit bowl, arriving in Mariposa around lunch. After a few hours taking in some of the valley, including the mighty bridal veil, we ended up back at our lodgings and ended up dining on gastronomic delights at Savoury’s, also in Mariposa. Saturday morning we ventured back into the valley, taking in much more of all the usual suspects, including Half Dome, Yosemite falls and several groves of majestic redwoods and sequoia.
Around lunch we ventured out and up towards Napa, dining that evening on hearty fare at the Bounty Hunter in Napa, finishing up at Oxbow market for our just desserts. On our final full day, Sunday, we drove up a little ways through the valley to Yountville and the best macaroons we’ve ever eaten, courtesy of the Bouchon Bakery. After some obligatory wine tastings, we made our way back down to the city for the final act, which included a drive over the golden gate bridge, and through some of the more memorable streets, on to our final hotel and a beautiful evening. All in all, one of the best and most kinetic vacations we’ve ever had.