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It’s conference time at NPS, and you know what that means…conference hotel time.

The grounds of the Lillehammer Scandic are very nice

The Scandic chain seems to be one of those hotel chains that focuses lots of attention on its common areas and not so much on its rooms. This is a common hotel failure condition that older properties seem to suffer from more often than newer ones do.

That said, the staff is professional, courteous and helpful. Also the bar has Zacapa 23…so there’s that.

But you can have hamster cage 542. Good thing there is the back lawn to relax and hang out in and an excellent balcony for late night fun!

Welcome fruit and a personal note. Very nice.

Veneer abounds

The good news is that in the tiny bathroom, there is a glass shower.

The bad news is there is hardly room to turn around in the tiny bathroom.

Then again, the grounds.

Vietnamese food in Lillehammer is pretty not bad (at B&T Kafe og Mat), especially after a glass of wine by the river.

Two showerheads and a sincere wish that the rooms lived up to the rest of the property.

Exciting times here in NPS-land where the youngest progeny is setting up an apartment for his last year of college. That required a visit to Beloit.

This trip we tried out the brand new Hotel Goodwin (walking distance to campus and much of the downtown in Beloit). Excellent service and a stellar property.

We were assigned room 3008, which is very nice. About the only fly in the ointment is highway noise early in the morning (this may only be a problem for people who live in the country…city folks are unlikely to even notice).

The shower

The bathroom is a nicely appointed marble palace with a huge walk in glass shower sporting multiple shower heads. Yes please. Interestingly, design-wise the shower is also exposed to the bedroom through one of its glass walls.

View from the bedroom

The room is also a very spacious design with plenty of room to hang out comfortably.

While in Beloit, a nice Japanese dinner can be found at Zen Sushi. A great burger can be had at Lucy’s. Reasonably good mexican is available in Janesville at El Jardin. Two great breakfast dives are Jerry’s Cafe and Mr B’s Coffee.

United also performed well on this trip, even providing car service between gates for a tight ORD connection. Awesome!

Five showerheads for Hotel Goodwin. Recommended. Oh, and the bar has Fernet.

What a difference a year makes. Last year the Grande Colonial seemed a bit tired and long in the tooth. It has had a facelift.

View from 102

Though the architecture of the building has not changed, the room layout is much cleaner and more spacious. Even the long skinny bathroom (which remains long and skinny) is better.

Looking in the long skinny bathroom. Hey, the shower is not plastic!

This trend to delete bath tubs and replace them with modern shower spaces is a great trend. Much better use of space, and much more reasonable approach to morning cleanliness.

The best part of this design is that the controls are situated logically. No reason to get wet while you turn on the shower.

The rest of the room has been opened up, repainted, and re-imagined. Nice work.

102 bed

Seating area 102

Look how comfortable

Sadly, the parking lot has not been deleted. The ocean is over there somewhere.

Dinner at Catania was very good for a restaurant group property. Modern italian with a negroni to boot. Recommended.

Sadly, the bar at Nine Ten (which is a very good restaurant in the hotel) is still sub-par. Gotta hire some hipsters who know what they are doing. The current bar suits the old, monied, and boring demographic of the hotel. Nuff said.

George’s at the Cove, a La Jolla establishment of many years still deserving its reputation, still has the best cocktail program in town.

Joree Weatherly was a top notch barman who served us this cocktail. It has a name, but Joree did not write it down on the recipe I asked for. Lets just call it Trentino Tincture. Actually, it turns out to be named Shiso Piney
1.5 Amaro Junipero gin
.5 Pasubio amaro (from Trentino where I spent a year in 1993)
1 lemon
.75 shiso syrup
2 dashes of pine tincture
top with soda. serve on rocks in a collins glass.

When we returned the next night with a cast of hundreds, Joree made use these great cocktails:
Mezcal Manhattan
1.5 Mezcal
.75 montenegro
.75 Averna
2 dashes mexican spiced bitters
Stir down, serve on a large cube

Negroni Amarillo
1.5 Mezcal
1 pamplemousse
1 suze
2 dashes sage tincture
Stir down, serve up with sage leaf

United upgraded us on the way out. Lets hope that works for the way back too. Global services rock on! Um, nope. No upgrade, and we’re here to tell you, economy sucks!

NPS is impressed. Nice work updating the property! Four showerheads for the Grande Colonial.

In the mountains, there is always a remarkable difference between the seasons. Our first visit to the cabin in Skarvheimem was in the Fall. We did some great hiking. This time we visited at the tail end of winter, just before Easter. Here is a short montage about our visit.

We arrived in Bergen…well maybe it was Bergen just in time to pee.

Bergen airport bathroom

Nobody in Bergen is sure about anything

After 20 hours or so of travel, sunset was a welcome sight.

Then it was off to the cabin.

Our now familiar pass

This is where the talk about photography began in earnest. It is not where it ended.

The “path” to the cabin was a little snowy

Home for Easter week.

The living room and bar area

Heat turned out to be kind of important

Outdoor fire

This is us lazing around doing nothing. Note that we were not relaxing (right Gøran?)

Panorama by Anne

The cross country ski area

Way down there is the entire crew

Did I mention there was some talk of photography?

Picture by Amy Barley

The two most important things at the cabin are both liquids.

First, there is water.

Then there is rum

Downhill day

My downhill morning companions

Moon over ice (by Anne)

The view at dinner

Music was a thing again even though the violin was left in Virginia.

Fernet anyone?

More skiing

Pretending to fly the planet

Boo!

Another fire

Two fisted Anne

Somebody is very happy

The visitor

Pancakes and ice cream

Some biathalon

Spring in Norway

Another magical visit to Norway with great friends.

Of course the shower itself was not plastic, since it was nonexistent.

The moonlit view

After a weekend of staying with friends (paul, jim and chloe), we spent one night at the Kabuki before heading out of town early in the morning.

1602 is as nice a room as ever. We have been here before.

1602 bedroom in the upper corner

There was just enough time to dash down a craft cocktail before dinner.

The Daffodil-Narcissus
1 oz Sipsmith gin
1 oz Bols Genever
1 oz honey/water 1:1
.5 oz lillet blanc
.5 oz lime juice
spoon of greek yogurt
egg white
dry shake. shake on ice. serve in a collins with a big cube and dill garnish.

Dinner at Mourad was very good indeed. Expensive as all get out, but great food and an excellent quirky wine list.

And we now have a new driver in SF.

Four showerheads for the Kabuki and thanks for putting us up in our favorite room.

First of all you have to go north, over the Golden Gate Bridge and up the coast. Guerneville is situated on the Russian River.

Up the 101 in a convertible

But before you go to the cabin, a picnic at Preston winery is in order. There is some stocking up to do in the alcohol department.

Picnic on a perfect Spring day (preston winery)

After bread, cheese, some more cheese, salami, and different salami, olives, and hummus, and a couple of bottles of wine, and those wee little pills, it is off to see some big trees at the Armstrong Redwood State Natural Preserve. Make sure to see the amphitheater, but do not dilly dally.

Amy dwarfed by a giant redwood

The band at the crest

We did make it to the cabin after an espresso in town at Big Bottom. No really, that’s what they called it.

The cabin has modern sensibilities

Drama and moss is a thing

The a pit stop by the cabin to change clothes and it is off for dinner in Healdsburg. Chalkboard is worth driving way up to the sticks for. Excellent food. Fun, friendly service. Very good indeed. (We were slightly late the whole time, mostly due to amphitheater…LOL.)

One of the many superb dishes at Chalkboard

These doughnut things were out of this world

Sadly, we ended up being on time to see the show at the Raven. Eileen Ivers played a pre-compiled show of world music (many mixed genres). The show was solid, but also phoned in and somehow cloyingly fake. Still, it was fun singing along, and the support band was filled with excellent session musicians.

Everyone joins Eileen

The show was opened by JigJam who, other than desperately needing a new name, played an opener that topped the main event. The young fiddle player was far better than Eileen will ever be.

Then it was back home in the volkswagon and to bed by 1am.

A stint in the hot tub in the morning happened first thing, followed by some delicious eggy concoction with expert-level toast. Next, we attempted to cram 20 square feet of stuff into a 10 square foot space in the car. The stuff was consolidated, and the trunk was very slowly shut over the lil tiny bass through the use of random quantum properties, black magic, and the power of wishful thinking.

A call by the Pacific was next. The Russian River pours its brown self into the ocean at Jenner.

Then a short hike (maybe 3.5 or 4 miles) through the vernal wonderland (read “muddy”) of the California coastal hills. Sonoma is gorgeous and green for at least a week in the Spring, and we got to witness it.

Uncle Jim leads the way

Also Pacific ocean.

The Pacific at shell beach

By this time we were late again, but who cares? A drive down 1 took us directly to Rocker Oysterfeller’s where we partook of Negronis and oysters. Jim found out that oysters can be cooked and smothered in various things and still be delicious.

What an adventure! We’ll do it again as soon as we make up for lost time.

Paul’s house is situated on a dead end in the city that abuts a park. Pretty much picture perfect. Also, Paul’s house has a beautiful little apartment in it. Yes please.

Why are we in SF? Maybe for something to do with hair.

Or maybe we’re trying to cross the Global Services finish line as quickly as possible.

Probably both.

A visit to Kippu in Japantown seems to be the way we do it now on landing

This aesop thing is Jacob’s fault regardless of continent

Kitchen opens on to the back garden

Glass cube. NPS approved.

For some reason, the chairs have socks

We went to see a Cal concert featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen. The Bartok was particularly good.

Cal concert at 11:30pm EST (yawn)

Cafe du Soleil is a delicious place for a quick breakfast.