Archive for Travel

On The Road Again

by John Weckerle

We join our readers today from not-so-sunny New Hampshire, from whence we will be returning tomorrow. We have a few short reviews for the probably small percentage of readers who find themselves traveling to this neck of the woods.

On the way out, we changed planes in th Baltimore airport. Standing in stark comparison to the Kansas City airport, whose most redeeming feature would appear to be the departing flights, the Baltimore Airport is clean, modern, and well appointed with eating establishments. We selected the Silver Diner, which purports to take classic American recipes and give them a different (and healthier) flair. Your editor chose the chipotle shrimp tacos, and Senior Fish and Chips Correspondent Lucy ordered the obvious. Neither of us was disappointed; the tacos were delightfully flavored, and the fish and chips, while very different from the traditional treatment, were very tasty.

We enjoyed breakfast twice at the DW Diner in Merrimack, where your editor enjoyed the vegetarian omelette and the Californian Benedict, and Senior Breakfast Correspondent Lucy had the hash and eggs one day and steak and eggs the other. All were very tasty, and the veggie omelette was more flavorful than most. The home fries had a great flavor, but we note that they are of the moist rather than the crispy variety, which was not to the liking of Senior Potato Consultant Trina but which – in your editor’s opinion – still outdoes the deep-fried potato cubes that all too many restaurants are calling “home fries.”

We ate dinner twice at The Lobster Boat in Merrimack, where your editor had the Medley, consisting of baked lobster, shrimp, and scallops. While the lobster was a bit overcooked, the shrimp and scallops were spot on, and the overall impression was very positive. The baked haddock was also very good.

Saturday night found our little band of travelers tired, so we had pizza delivered to the hotel. This was from Merrimack’s Pizza Roma. The pizza was very good, and arrived as hot as any pizza we have received. With six diners in attendance and three large pizzas to deal with, enthusiasm was so high that there was, tragically, no cold pizza for breakfast the following morning; this, however, was remedied by the aforementioned Californian Benedict.

On The Road Again

A pause for thought - Mandrill at the Phoenix Zoo

by John Weckerle

Last weekend the entire population of New Mexico Central headquarters took a road trip to see relatives in Apache Junction, Arizona, which is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Surprisingly, only one day of our stay was very hot, with the other two days topping out at 90 degrees or below.  Senior Travel Correspondent Wilson was very excited about the sights, sounds, and smells of the suburban setting we visited, and made plenty of new friends during his numerous walks.  Highlights of the trip included a stop at The Great Indoors, seeing the movie “Thor” (good fare for fans of the comic book movie genre), and dinner at Chevy’s Mexican restaurant.  Chevy’s makes a very good shrimp and crab enchilada, and most of their other food is above average as well.  The margaritas were very good, and the fresh guacamole (made at the table) disappeared very rapidly into our cast of appreciative diners.

The trip also included a bit of time for photography, including a stop at the Phoenix Zoo.  We were not able to tour the entire zoo, but did manage to see between a third and a half of it.  What we saw indicated that a return visit to see the rest is in order.   Most enclosures are large, and a number of them provided good opportunity for pictures – something that is not necessarily the standard at all zoos.  There is ample shade, and water fountains were available as needed.  Several options are available for food.  The Zoo’s summer hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., an obvious concession to the high temperatures typical of Phoenix at this time of year, and we wish we’d known they were open so early when we got up that day – in a classic vacation oversight, we forgot to check the night before.  Since it was part of the party’s reaction to heat that drove us off, we’d have been better off getting there earlier than our 9-ish arrival.  Still, we got the chance to see a number of animals and snap a few photos.

Goin’ To The Zoo

by John Weckerle

As we mentioned yesterday, your editor has been away on vacation of late.  The vacation provided an opportunity to visit the Bronx Zoo in New York.  This 265-acre park provides natural settings and large habitats for many of its residents.

This morning, we provide you with just a few photos of the zoo’s denizens.

Winter Storm Dumps Major Snow Load (So Far)

Sedillo Hill camera at 8:33 a.m.

by John Weckerle

Snow is falling heavily here at New Mexico Central headquarters, and has been since sometime during the night.  Depending on where we dig, we can see anything from eight inches to a foot.  Areas shoveled less than half an hour ago are under two to three inches of snow already.  Road reports are not encouraging, and neither are the roadside camera shots from  Cameras at I-40 & NM 14, and at Carnuel, are iced over, with no image available except for the ice on the camera.  The I-40 & Zamora Rd. Camera shows some snow in both lanes, and having looked at two consecutive images, we think it may be getting worse there.  The Sedillo Hill camera shows at least some snow in all lanes – and both cameras show snow still falling. According to, the following schools in our area are closed:

  • East Mountain High School

    Senior Meteorological Correspondent Wilson Taking Scientific Snow Depth Measurements

    Senior Meteorological Correspondent Wilson Taking Scientific Snow Depth Measurements

  • Edgewood Christian School
  • Mountainair Junior High
  • Albuquerque Public Schools East Mountain Schools
  • Estancia Municipal Schools
  • Moriarty-Edgewood Schools
  • Mountainair Public Schools

TCPO To Go Transportation and the Estancia and Moriarty Magistrate Courts are also closed.  If we’ve missed any schools, we’d appreciate it if our readers would let us know.

Lest the local climate change “skeptics” get too excited, let’s remember that winter storms of this nature (and the frequency with which they’ve been occurring) are typical of El Nino conditions – a warming of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean.

Much To Our Surprise…

by John Weckerle

…we join you yet again from the Northeast U.S.  – specifically, Gillette, NJ.  Our return flight scheduled for yesterday was canceled, and our rescheduled flight leaves this afternoon.

For now, we provide a few images from the  Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County, NJ.  This is a small zoo – perhaps the size of Wildlife West Nature Park overall, but with some rides, picnic areas, and a reptile house.  They had a very nice prairie dog exhibit, but we were very unimpressed with the penguin exhibit – two penguins huddled in about a square foot of shade with no other shelter apparent.  Overall, it’s a good zoo, but a little difficult from the photographic standpoint.

Within a couple of days, we will provide commentary on the aquarium in Virginia Beach, VA.

Photo - Timber Wolf »» Much To Our Surprise…

A Little More New England

by John Weckerle

Photo - Tree In Fog Along The White River in VermontWe left New England Tuesday for the second leg of our trip, taking an Amtrack train to Pennsylvania Station in New York City, and then a commuter train to Gillette, New Jersey.  Our time in New England was largely spent on graduation festivities and visiting with relatives, and the weather was, for the most part, somewhere between gloomy and rainy.  There were a few patches of sun, and at times the typically grey Vermont June weather provided an opportunity to capture a moment or two.

The natural setting of Vermont is as different from New Mexico’s as its architecture.  It is a land of forests, meadows, and pastures, and the abundant moisture make it an impressively green place.  Abundant clouds and fog bring forth a world of mist and shadow, pierced occasionally by moments of brilliant sunshine and bright reflections.  We are told that the rain and cool are normal for Vermont in June – but we did get a little sunshine the day we left. »» A Little More New England

And Now For Something Completely Different – Again

by John Weckerle

Wynona Cascade, White River Junction, VTWe join you today from White River Junction, Vermont, the first stop on our epic journey from one V to another – Vermont to Virginia.  White River Junction is the place where the White and Connecticut Rivers join forces and head seaward.  Located near the middle of Vermont’s eastern border, White River Junction has grown along with Hartford, Vermont and Lebanon, New Hampshire to form a sort of “ruratropolis;” the three towns blend into each other in such a way that one can easily move from one to the other without realizing it if one of the many little “welcome to” signs populating the roadsides.

Like much of New England, the White River Junction area is a place of winding roads and rushing water.  Tall, green meadows are found nestled among the ubiquitous forests – forests different from our own, as they are dominated by deciduous trees – oaks, poplars, and maples, maples, maples – and the understory contains ferns far more often than New Mexico’s evergreen woodlands.

Wednesday night’s dinner was at a restaurant (Authentic Italian Cuisine is all we remember of the name; it’s on Elm Street) in Manchester, NH, at which I had a very serviceable linguine with white clam sauce.  Thursday’s lunch at Yama in Lebanon was a tasty experience of sushi and other associated dishes.  A Japanese/Chinese/Korean establishment, Yama serves up an excellent sushi lunch special – six pieces of tuna roll and six assorted pieces of sushi – for well under $10.  We augmented this with their dragon roll – in this case, similar to a California Roll with unagi (cooked eel) wrapped halfway around. The other diners, who ordered various different dishes, were similarly enthusiastic about their dishes.  Dinner Thursday was courtesy of Raymunto’s, a local chain whose New York pizza rivals much of the pizza I’ve had in New York City itself.

Our trip thus far has been dominated by travel time, graduation festivities, and the associated activities, and that will continue today.  Tomorrow will bring more leisurely pursuits, and perhaps the opportunity for some scenic photography; for today, we will leave our readers with photos typical of the area: Wynona Cascade (above) and the White River (below).

White River, White River Junction, VT

Edgewood Kite Festival and Green Energy Fair

by John Weckerle

Kite Festival PhotoThe Town of Edgewood will hold its annual Green Energy and Kite Festival at Wildlife West Nature Park this Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The event includes kite flying contests; stunt kite demonstrations; and remote control gliders.  Green energy and sustainable living demonstrations will be given including solar electricity; renewable energy; water harvesting (tours of Wildlife West’s water harvesting features); wind energy; biodiesel, hybrid; electric, and fuel cell vehicles; a solar oven; and solar-powered car kits.  Workshops will be conducted on the T. Boone Pickens plan for restructuring the nation’s energy system, permaculture, and more.  The Albuquerque Astronomical Society will be providing stunning views of the Moon and Sun, and there will be music from Trombone Troubadours and the Messangers Choir.  The event also marks the debut of Wildlife West’s new Disc Golf Course.  All the aforementioned events are free to the public and vendors.

In addition, inside the Park’s enhanced zoo (see the Park web site  for admissions information), Artists for Wildlife West will hold their Pre-Mother’s Day Artistfaire.  For more information, see the event flyer and the Wildlife West site, or contact Roger Holden, Edgewood Parks and Recreation Director, at (505) 286-4518 (e-mail:

There’s Nothing Like A Martin

Photo - Martin Guitar Museumby John Weckerle

As we return from last week’s hiatus in New Jersey, one last experience worthy of note remains: a trip to the C.F. Martin guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  We won’t go into extensive detail, here, as there is a substantial amount of information on the Martin Guitar site.  However, we did grab a few photos and learn a few interesting things about guitar making that might be worth passing on. Visiting the factory, and taking the tour, was a great experience and highly recommended to those who want to know how these great instruments are made.

The factory includes a museum that traces the history of Martin guitars from the youth of Christian Frederick Martin (the first, of course; C.F. Martin IV currently runs the company), his emigration to the United States, early years in business in New York, and the move to Pennsylvania.  This is separate from the factory tour, which lasts about an hour.  Because of the noise in the factory, the tour guide speaks through radio headsets, which was very helpful.  Each stage of creating a guitar, from selecting materials to the finishing touches, is covered, although not exactly in a step-by-step manner. »» There’s Nothing Like A Martin

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

by John Weckerle

We join you today “from the road.” Well, trains, planes and automobiles are, in fact, something we spent some time with yesterday, at the Northlandz, Home of the Great American Railway in Flemington, New Jersey.  Billed as the largest model train layout in the world, Northlandz may be just that.  With about a 1-mile tour and 8 miles of track, the museum boasts hills of up to 30 feet.  The level of detail is, in some cases, truly impressive, and there is both a sense of history and a sense of humor embodied in the presentation.  We recommend stopping by if you are in the neighborhood.

Photo - Northlandz Train Museum »» Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

And Now For Something That, While Similar, Is Completely Different

by John Weckerle

We join you again today from Myrtle Beach, SC.  Yesterday we visited the Sculpture Gardens at Brookgreen Gardens – and found that Brookgreen is certainly a multi-day attraction.  After a “lazy day” today, we will be returning to Brookgreen tomorro to visit the Low Country Zoo.  In the meantime, here are some photos taken at the sculpture gardens – although they’re not all sculpture.  I’m also providing a shot of the moon as seen from our balcony Tuesday night.  Hand-held at 1/40th of a second! »» And Now For Something That, While Similar, Is Completely Different

And Now For Something Completely Different

by John Weckerle

We join you today from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, deep in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hannah.  In this case, the “aftermath” is sunshine with occasional clouds, a light breeze, and a glass of chardonnay. Â

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach

Having spent much of last week wondering whether our only “real” vacation of the year was going to be battered to pieces by tropical weather, we arrived yesterday more or less without incident (a minor delay affected the final leg of our travel, and there was some of the bumpiest weather I’ve ever encountered between Atlanta and Florence, SC).  We landed in Florence – a little 3-gate airport – and drove to Myrtle Beach, checked in (we’re at a time-share right on the beach), sat around for a bit, visited the Tiki Bar by the pool, and then went to the Giant Crab seafood buffet.  The food was good, but I felt that it was a bit overpriced given the selection and the fact that it was, in fact, a buffet.  »» And Now For Something Completely Different