The 787 Dreamliner airplane – fly one if you can!



My husband is big on taking notice of the airplanes he flies – but I tend to be oblivious, in part because I prefer not to think too much about the fact that I am flying a human-made-and-operated machine in the sky, above mountains and oceans, across continents. But I couldn’t help noticing the plane I flew last month from Albuquerque to Dallas because it was so much nicer than the planes I’m used to flying. (My connecting flight from Dallas to Des Moines was on a typically shabby, older model plane.)

In retrospect, I learned that I was flying a Boeing 787 Dreamliner – in my case one owned by American Airlines although I gather United and other airlines have them too. What stood out: comfortable, well-upholstered seats; a luggage compartment that glides open and shut and seems roomier than others: and most impressive – the screen/monitors on the back of each seat that not only offer movies and other entertainment (although I hadn’t thought to bring my ear buds, which I prefer to the ones offered by airlines) but great information on your flights. I was able to look up my connecting flight and see if it was leaving on time and from what gate. Then I could get interactive info showing me how to get from my arrival gate to my next departure gate. How great is that!? Making this information readily available especially to those of us in the sticks who more often than not have to take two flights to get somewhere (often with a tight connection) is a godsend.

Apparently the plane also offers all kind of other benefits – especially for those in business class, as this video shows.


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Check out my story in Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s magazine: the Raccoon River Valley Trail

Here it is!  Click here! (This is the photo taken by my friend Denise…that was used below. And yes, that’s me riding….)

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Latest London suspected terrorist bombing hits close to home: Parsons Green

On Hammersmith Bridge near Fulham, July 2017

Parsons Green was my tube station when I lived in London’s Fulham neighborhood in the 1980’s and remains a place I regularly visit old friends as I did again during my trip to London in July. The news of what appears to be a terrorist attack there jolted me this morning. Parsons Green is near a little park in a quiet southwest London neighborhood that has gentrified into a posh place since I lived there. It feels almost suburban although it’s not far from bustling urban areas. I’m trying to think of an equivalent neighborhood subway stop in Chicago or New York.  Maybe Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood or Chicago’s Lincoln Park? Yet again, I’ve emailed my London pal Francine to make sure everyone’s okay and she responded: Yes. But what a world we live in….

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For future reference: how to go glamping in Moab

I used to love to camp – but my bad back makes sleeping in a tent on the ground, even with a pad, out of the question. So glamping – which presumably mixes glamour and camping but most importantly, offers the promise of a firm bed inside a tent – seems like the way to go. Our friends Denise and David went glamping in Moab and report that: “It was just great! Love sleeping in a tent, AND in a bed ;)”  Denise’s photo (above) of the tent at sunrise has me in heavy daydream mode…

For future reference, here’s the appropriately-named glamping outfit they went with: Under Canvas

More information on how to glamp (including in my beloved Ithaca) is here.

The NYTimes is also on it….

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Captain Roy’s – a new spot to stop while biking on the Neal Smith Trail in Des Moines

Good thing Dirck remembered that there is a new place to stop, as we were riding our bikes on the Neal Smith Trail near Birdland Marina  on Des Moines’ East Side Sunday.  We rode right past Captain Roy’s, without noticing it, but backtracked and found a pleasant little clearing with outdoor tables and a deck overlooking the Des Moines River, as well as a food truck serving burgers and chicken and waffles and a small building with a takeout window  for beer and other drinks. We sat in the sunshine, watching the occasional boat go by on the Des Moines River, enjoying a late summer/early fall day.

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Jay Cooke state park – near Carlton, Mn.//Quang Vietnamese Restaurant- ‘Minneapolis 

Has it really been a week since we were hiking in Jay Cooke State Park, on the St. Louis River, in Carlton, MN.? Not for nothing is this park reportedly one of the top ten most visited in Minnesota. It was a logical spot to stop on our return from the North Shore to Minneapolis, because it’s about 10 miles southwest of Duluth, and we were reminded of my beloved Ithaca when we cross a suspension bridge over raging falls (although the water was an odd yellow-brown, reminiscent of root beer, which I later learned is caused by tannic acid, a natural plant compound used to tan hides – and make wine.) We hiked on a muddy but scenic trail along the falls and into the birch and pine forest on a drier trail until a rainstorm suddenly blew in. Fortunately we didn’t get totally soaked – we found a shelter on the trail and the rain soon stopped but we ended up eating our picnic of smoked fish and cheese inside a rustic park lodge, completely with roaring fire (nice touch)!

Back in Minneapolis, we took “the kids” out for a quick Vietnamese meal at Quang, on “Eat Street”/Nicollet Avenue, which was packed with customers but the servers did their best to get the food to us quickly.

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Naniboujou Lodge, Cascade River and Temperance River State Parks, North House Folk School, Dockside Fish Market, Casade River State Park – Grand Marais

So glad my friend Denise highly recommended we drop by Naniboujou Lodge, just north of Grand Marais. We didn’t eat brunch there but what a remarkable place. The massive dining room has a high ceiling boldly decorated in zigzagging stripes of red, yellow, orange, green and blue – and other Cree Indian-influenced designs, plus an enormous fireplace made of cobblestones. As resorts go, it’s not big or fancy – the rooms are reasonably priced, maybe because there aren’t a lot of amenities that I could tell other than the Lake Superior beachfront.

Grand Marais reminded me of summer resort towns in northern Michigan, with tourist shops and a wickedly good donut shop (World’s Best Donuts). These towns never quite feel like real places to me – although I’m sure they are to the townies. We wandered through the Sivertson  Gallery, full of north woods crafts and artwork, and at the North House Folk School (which offers classes in folk art and traditional northern crafts) I watched a woman working with boiled wool to make hats, shoes and puppets. We also dropped in at smoked fish shop #3 of the trip – the Dockside Fish Market, which felt very much like a summer resort hotspot with tables in the back overlooking boats docked in the harbor.

On the drive back, we stopped several times to take short hikes along waterfalls and gorges at Cascade River State Park and Temperance River State Park  with strange yellow-brown water, the color of root beer, that I learned later was caused by tannic acid – a natural plant compound used to tan hides and make dry wine. We watched daredevil kids jump off high rocky perches in the woods way down into a pool of water at the end of one series of waterfalls, near the beach. This reminded me of Ithaca, although the birch and pine forests reminded me of northern Michigan. We also stopped briefly at Betty’s Pies, which was doing a land office business at 5 p.m. Pie before dinner? Why not – we’re on vacation.

Cascade River State Park, Minnesota North Shore

Back in Duluth, we wandered around the imposing Fitgers Building – a former brewery turned into a hotel and shopping complex.  Behind the building, we sat on a walkway overlooking the water and watched the sun set, then went back into the building for a burger and beer at the Fitgers pub.  People were lined up outside the Portland Malt Shoppe, in an old lakeside building,  when we left the pub, which was a perfect thing to do on a late summer evening with slightly cool temps and a light breeze but we were too full for ice cream. Next time.


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