Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Lighting at the Mansion

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! This is the 916 sq. ft. mansion I am always talking about. Isn't it a real beauty? One can only imagine the amount of cussing that went into those outdoor lights that were hung on a blustery day. Anyway, when I was done I waited until the optimum time of day to capture this photo for all the faithful readers to enjoy. Happy Holidays to all.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Short Amtrak Journey

Seeing such scenery was in my mind when I day dreamt about my retirement. I love to travel and visit new places and people. Even with my disabilities, I thoroughly enjoy getting out and about. So, the last week of September I purchased an Amtrak ticket and went to visit a small town in Missouri that reminds me of the Rhineland. The town of Hermann has rolling hills that provide the right climate for growing grapes and this area sports seven wineries. Of course, I went to a wine tasting, but the real purpose of the post is train travel in United States.

I took this photo aboard the Amtrak's River Runner. The train departed Kansas City's Union Station at 7:30 am for the four hour trip to Hermann. The first thing I noticed was the coach car's cleanliest. I can't report that it was spotless, but it was in very good condition and that includes the toilets. My seat was wide and comfortable and the ride superior to the European trains I rode during my visits to the continent. The River Runner name is apt because the rails following the Missouri River and scenes such as the one in the first photo present themselves during the trip. Additionally, this train doesn't have a Dining car, but does have a cafe car with picture window seating and you can find some good snack foods for a reasonable price. Service aboard Amtrak might not be the quality I experienced aboard the Queen Mary II, but it was far better than what I experienced aboard British Rail.

Just so we can compare and contrast the differences, here is a British Rail car. The first impression is that the cars are much more narrow. Same for the seats. Also the ride is harsher and you should bring a pillow or your rear might be a wee bit tired from the journey. British Rail did provide a cafe service and their trains are faster; this one did 125 mph routinely. Cleanliness was about the same as Amtrak in coach, but the toilets were appalling!
I plan to support Amtrak by traveling with them as much as I can. The passenger rail service in the United States was the envy of the world in the 1920's and I for one would like to see its glory return. As I child I read stories of rail travel that made my imagination dance in delight. I am sure many feel the same way as I. Please support our nation's passenger rail service so our children can delight in train travel in the future.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The View from the Bridge...Eye, Aye, Sir!

This is the rather fetching view from Westminster Bridge, London, United Kingdom. This bridge links Palace of Westminster on the West bank of the River Thames with County Hall and the Eye of London on the East Bank.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Transatlantic crossing!

Whenever the Retired Pawn travels, he does so in style. This doesn't mean that loads of money is spent. Oh, no! I tend to get the best deals one can have. This is how I was able to make a round trip Atlantic crossing aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2. Trust me, I am a man of limited means, but there are some deals one shouldn't pass.

Interestingly, there is little chess play aboard. One day, I found a game with a bright young lady. There was a temptation to crush her, but I refrained and just let the game end as a draw. No sense destroying her like for the game for my ego's sake. The other on-board chess players should take lessons from the young lady, as she at least knew how the chessmen moved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Manila Trip

Almost two years ago, when I was in an English Composition class, the professor gave an assignment to write about a place that the student has never been, but would like to travel to. I chose prophetic! The old story is in italics with new information in standard text.

The place I would like to travel to, but never have been, is Manila, Philippines. Ever since I joined the U.S. Navy, returning sailors have told me of this beautiful and unique Pacific Paradise. Using my imagination, I picture Manila Bay as if I had navigated its waters; a picturesque volcanic island covered with lush green vegetation...
and a protected harbor along the shoreline.
Wow! It is amazing how accurate my mind's eye saw what I had not yet seen.
Coming ashore, Jeepney drivers greet me and offer transport in refurbished Willis Jeeps. I was almost correct. Actually, the Jeepney looks purpose built to resemble a jeep. My guess is that the first of these were conversions.
These taxis are rolling works of art that display bright white, green, red, and silver paint. I observe Manila is a crowded city with millions of busy people vying for a ride to their destinations, or just walking along its streets. It is at this moment I become aware of its wonderful architecture, a combination of modern and old, Spanish influences...
mixed with the neoclassical of the U.S. Government.
Again, I was very close in my short description.
Lastly, the smell of fresh bake bread (Pandesal) and strong coffee capture my attention, making Manila a truly magical place. Yes, it truly is!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Traveling the World

(Manila, Philippines) My new home for a few days while traveling. There is a nice park just down the street that has many chess hustlers...I mean players...that will challenge a chess addict to the utmost. I will update again soon on my trip.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taming the Tornado

Forbes (1698) - Tornado (1838)
01 24.2009
C45: Scotch Game
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nxd4 5.Qxd4 d6 6.Bc4 Be6 7.Bxe6 fxe6 8.Nc3 Nf6 9.f3N (this move was prophylactic...and wrong. Better 9.0–0 ) 9...e5 10.Qa4+ Qd7 11.Be3 c6 12.0–0–0 Be7 13.Qb3 a5 14.a4 0–0–0 15.Bb6 c5 16.Bxa5 Rde8 17.Nb5 Kb8 18.Bc7+ Ka8 19.Qc3 b6 20.Bxb6 Kb7 21.Qa5 Ra8 22.Na7 (I know this move was not the best, but over the board it looks playable. Better 22.Ba7)22...Rhb8 (Black returns the favor!) How did I tame this Tornado using our methods?