Riley Goes to Colombia Day 5 – February 14, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

Valentine’s Day. One of the cool things about this hotel was the breakfasts. Every morning we had a choice of “American” or local breakfast, and I ate the local every day: empanadas, arepas, a local sausage and limes. Plus, fresh fruit juice! Good stuff. This morning we walked over to Castillo de San Felipe, which I have read is one of the largest Spanish style forts in the New World, if not the largest. Even walking over after breakfast, it was already fucking hot. (Though, as with the entire time we were in Cartagena, there was a breeze, albeit a Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 4 – February 13, 2016

Categories: 2016 and Travel.

The first two mornings at the hotel, we’d had regular food for breakfast: eggs, waffles. But today we got tamales! They were pretty good. We had a super fast ride to the airport, as it was a Saturday morning and apparently the awful traffic virtually disappears on the weekends. So we got to the Bogota airport a little early and spent time wandering around the domestic departure side. As airports go, Bogota isn’t bad. It’s certainly nicer (cleaner) than Panama. The flight was pretty quick – just over an hour, I think. My first impression of Cartagena was that the Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 3 – February 12, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we took a cab ride to Monserrate, a mountain that overlooks Bogota. For the first few minutes of the cab ride, we worried he was driving us up the mountain, as we had to go up high to get on a beltway that runs along the hills. The cabbie took us to the station where we could catch a funicular up the mountain, or a gondola. The gondola didn’t open until noon, but that was fine with us because we both wanted to take the funicular. (Jenn took pictures from it; I did not as my camera doesn’t Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 2 – February 11, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

After breakfast, we took another long cab ride to a mall, where we met Loon, our guide, for a tour of one of Bogota’s big food markets. We tried the following over the course of the morning: 1.Breakfast Sancocho de pescado  Fish soup made with plantain, yuca and potatoes. Arepa de queso – Colombian arepa filled with gooey double cream cheese [better in Bogota than Medellin] 2. Fruits Feijoa – Green, bubblegum tasting fruit Granadilla – Sweet passion fruit Pitaya – Yellow dragon fruit Mangostino – This was the final one we ate that looked like garlic cloves. 3. Fried stuff Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 1 – February 10, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

We got up sometime after 4 AM, though I was up from 1-something until 2-something, due to my usual anxiety about leaving for a big trip, and because I was anticipating the alarm going off any minute. We took the Union-Pearson Express, because it’s pretty much the only option at 5:30AM (unless you want to spend an hour+ on the night bus or spend $60 on a limo). I was pleasantly surprised by the trip – and fascinated by the route – but it is still incredible to me that a new, separate train was judged the best solution, not Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia – Prologue

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

I spent most of the last two weeks in Colombia; it was my first visit to South America. Why we went to Colombia is a long story. The short version is that I wanted to go on vacation – it’s been two years since my last trip abroad – and the GF had heard great things about Colombia. And so we went. We went despite lots of people expressing their shock that we would choose to go to Colombia, and others expressing their fears. (What we found was that, if the person had been to Colombia or knew someone who Read More

Riley Goes to Turkey (February 2014)

Categories: 2014 and Travel.

You may have noticed the lack of blog posts from me during part of February. That’s because the wife and I went to Turkey. What follows is a summary of what we did. Why Turkey? Turkey has always been on my list, but it was quite high up on Monique’s. The real reason we went, and now – in the winter, with the Syrian Civil War supposedly scaring people away – was because we got a deal. We got a groupon for a tour with Gate 1, an American company I had never heard of before. We were a little Read More

In Patagonia (1977) by Bruce Chatwin

Categories: 1977, Books, and Non-Fiction.

Part travelog, part oral history, part amateur archaeological text, part memoir. Totally unique and a far cry from Theroux’s more traditional travel writing. Theroux takes the train, Chatwin hitchhikes – and perhaps that is why their experiences are so different. Chatwin is also much more concerned with local memory / mythology as history rather than his own personal observations of cultures and peoples. It’s a completely different approach but it is just as interesting. 8/10 Read More

Himalaya with Michael Palin (2004)

Categories: 2004 and TV.

This is yet another excellent Michael Palin travel series with the usual: great scenery, fascinating places and people, and Palin’s general affability. The only thing I can really say in criticism is that it seems a shame they were only able to get 6 hours out of 6 month trip through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I am guessing that a longer series would have involved endless shots of him walking up or down or along a mountain. Well worth seeing for any fan of travel documentaries, as is always the case with everything he has Read More

The Old Patagonian Express (1979) by Paul Theroux

Categories: 1979, Books, and Non-Fiction.

This is Theroux’s second excellent train travel book. In it he travels from Boston to Patagonia, mostly by rail (with the odd flight involved). As usual, he is astute, he is observant and, perhaps above all, honest. One of the engrossing – and I must admit frustrating – things about this book is how honest he is about his feelings. Other writers might have censored themselves when editing, but he lets us know when he dislikes a somewhere or someone. It doesn’t take away from the trip though; rather it humanizes it. We are more in his head as a Read More

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Categories: 2013 and Travel.

I have just returned from spending five nights at the Elk Country Inn in Jackson, Wyoming, where my brother and I skied (and snowboarded) at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, just outside of Jackson. We did not know this, but JHMR is widely considered one of the most difficult ski resorts in North America (we were told this after four days of marveling at how steep the mountain is). Jackson Hole is one of the larger ski resorts in the US: it has the 3rd highest vertical drop in the US (and 6th highest in North America) and it is in Read More

Pole to Pole (1992)

Categories: 1992 and TV.

This remains the definitive Michael Palin travel documentary and probably the best series of its type at least until the Long Way Round. Palin seems more honest and human here than he does in later series; less like a host and more like a traveler. It’s an incredible journey that is not without its problems; he takes some pretty incredible risks by the end. And his reflections are, though hardly philosophical, at least thought-provoking and universal. Watching this, I feel like Palin is the Theroux of TV. 9/10 Read More

Sarhara (2002, John Paul Davidson)

Categories: 2002 and TV.

This is an entertaining and fairly informative travel documentary. I do agree that sometimes he gets in the way of his own role when he is trying to be funny, and I feel like this is a little more apparent than in Pole to Pole. It’s still good to watch and it makes me pretty desperate to travel to Africa ASAP. I find Palin’s latest career to be pretty much the greatest job ever and I wish I could somehow steal it from him. 3 months traveling around a single desert. Amazing. 7/10 Read More

The US Dollar Coin

Categories: Society.

For years I spread an urban legend that the US dollar coin had been unsuccessfully introduced in about 2002. I wasn’t doing this intentionally. A friend of mine told me a story where he had gone to a store in Vermont with new US dollar coins and the clerk had refused to honour honor them. And then I swear – swear – I saw a news story on the Burlington affiliate of one of the major networks that they were discontinued. Read More

Gaspe Day 2: Saturday August 7

Categories: 2010, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

12PM? 1 PM? 3 hour hike. 1 roll of film. 282 metres? + a tower. Took the roundabout way to the tower (clockwise, most appear to go counter-clockwise). Did the full loop but it is a less extreme climb. 6.5 km I think. I need to drink more water. I am going over to the south side. I have to drive because to hike over would have taken all day and I probably wouldn’t have made it back by nightfall. From here to Cap Gaspe it is 9.2 km. So I take that back. I would make it back but Read More

Gaspe Journal: Friday August 6

Categories: 2010, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

Once again I feel like a foreigner in my own country. My inability / unwillingness to (re?) learn French makes me feel and act differently than I do in all other parts of Canada. I should just try to pass myself off as an American (which is only mostly a lie). I have forgotten a couple of key things: a water jug, a lamp, scissors [actually didn’t forget the scissors]. I couldn’t light a fire tonight to eat dinner. I am exposed as a fraud or I am very, very tired. This drive was totally insane. I should have listened Read More

What’s the worm pate story?

Categories: Food and Personal.

So, I was on this hike on a tour of southwest Australia. We canoed up the Margaret River (that of the famous wine region) and we stopped for lunch. They provided lunch, and part of it was “bush tucker,” i.e. a supposedly authentic recreation of what southwest Australian aboriginals would have had as a diet back in the day. With one exception: worm pate. The reason the worms were in pate form is because they tried to serve them to people in the past in their dead, unprocessed form and supposedly nobody would ever try them. So someone came up Read More

The Ocean

Categories: Personal and Travel.

I have a strong and deep desire to go to the ocean. I haven’t been in over two years. I need the sea. I need it. I can’t explain why. Something about the expanse. Something about feeling like I’m at the end of the world. I need to go to the ocean. Maybe I need to live next to one. Maybe I should seriously consider that once I actually can pick where I want to live based on things beyond economy. Read More

What was the worst place you’ve traveled to?

Categories: Personal and Travel.

Ooh, that’s a toughy. There aren’t too many bad places. Even if the place appears lame in some way shape or form it is still new. But I think the worst one would probably be Atikokan. View Larger Map Only because I was there at lunch time, on a weekday no less, and nothing was open. And there were tons of people out on the street corners staring at me because I was a stranger. Read More

Best Books of the 20th Century – Non-Fiction

Categories: Books and Non-Fiction.

I find it a lot harder to pick non-fiction. That’s why this list is shorter. I’ve also read lots of silly non-fiction over the years, that really isn’t very good. Hannah Arendt: The Human Condition; The Origins of Totalitarianism Albert Camus: The Rebel Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel Victor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning Leszek Kolakowski: Main Currents of Marxism Runners-up: Hannah Arendt: On Revolution William Barrett: Irrational Man Bruce Chatwin: The Songlines Northrop Frye: The Educated Imagination Tony Horwitz: Confederates in the Attic Stanley Karnow: Vietnam Leszek Kolakowski: Modernity on Endless Trial Raymond B. Lech: All the Drowned Read More

Football

Categories: 2009, Football, Playoffs, and Sports.

Last Saturday I was 1-1 and this Saturday I was 1-1 (and today I got the spread right for it too, I’m so awesome). But I’ve learned my lesson. I will now no longer underestimate the Cardinals. I will stop predicting they’re going to lose every weekend. But what reason do you have to believe me? I forgot to post my predictions. So I will now for tomorrow: Giants by 1 and the Chargers by 3. You heard it here first. Read More

ESPN

Categories: 2008, Basketball, Hockey, Journalism, Sports, and TV.

Two segments of NCAA analysis within twenty minutes, during a highlight and they don’t even get to show the games… This morning, I learned Trevor Linden perhaps played his last game as a Canuck. They showed him skating on the ice. They showed and mentioned Jarome Iginla and the Flames shaking his hand. Then they forgot to mention the score… The Score, TSN, and Sportsnet are hardly the last word in highlight shows (though I really enjoy the Score Tonight), but they are so far and away better than ESPN that it’s not even funny (and TSN has the same Read More

On Listicles

Categories: Music and Travel.

The past few days I’ve seen a few nutty lists on msn / simpatico or simpatico / msn or whatever the hell that site is called. One was “Top 10 Greatest Summer Songs” or something. Another was “The Best Albums of 1967” 40 years after the fact, or something. And another was “Canada’s Best Beaches” or something. You may ask, why? Why was I on this site? Well, when I exit hotmail: tada!  And, I love my lists, as you know. These lists are examples of three things that drive many people nuts about the “popularization” of “knowledge” via the internet, if we can Read More

The Mussel Mystery

Categories: 2007, Personal, and Travel.

So, my limited research about the freshwater mussel has led me to find that indeed there are “small freshwater mussels” in the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin regions. But the thing is, the mussels I found were not in any way “small,” (for example, they were probably 15-20 times the size of the zebra mussels I have seen), they were completely gutted out as if they had been eaten and filled with sand as if they had sat there for ever, and further the lake appeared devoid of large life. It’s still a mystery to me. Read More