no fly July

July 3, 2018

Last year’s plan to cut down on travel was a resounding failure. NPS blew the target of 20 trips by just about 50%. 29 trips was too many. Not that they were not fun.
They were fun. They were just too many.

Too many trips in 2017

Several years ago, to keep sane, NPS instituted “no fly July” and “no fly Nöel” both of which remain in effect. No fly July started 3 days ago!

To give you some idea of how important taking a travel break is, consider these numbers from the United pile of travel. NPS has already qualified for 100K in 2019 and the year is not even halfway complete. Yeah, I would imagine we’ll retain our global services status.

So far we’ve been to: San Francisco twice, NY, Boston, LA, Ann Arbor, Germany twice, Austria, Sweden, Argentina, Uruguay, and London.

So yes, we will be not flying for a month. See you in August.

Though NPS does not fly in July or December, there is still stuff to be done. The solution? A working meeting at the Lorien in Old Town Alexandria. We’ve been to the Lorien a couple of times since Steph Vogel took over as GM. Sadly, Steph is in Switzerland this week. We’ll pretend that the ship runs just as well without Steph at the helm (though it’s really not true).

The Spartan balcony off 619

This visit finds us in 619, which is similar to 615 only slightly smaller and on the other side of the building. There is a very large balcony on this side too. Because it’s 100 degrees this week (with an overnight low in the upper ’70s), the balcony will be ignored due to weather. Strikes us that a remake of these balconies as a garden would make them both more inviting.

Look to the left

Look to the right

Our meeting room was cavernous and highly functional. We spent all day working.

A cocktail was in order after all that work. The bar is still very good, though barman and detail freak Phil Clark is no longer around. Phil has moved to Phoenix. You can tell. Damien is doing his damndest to keep things up.

Whey Sour
.75 cachaça (novo fogo)
.75 rye (copper fox)
1.5 whey
.75 honey
1 lemon
pinch of salt
Shake. Serve up.

Snacks at the bar took forever to arrive. That ended up making them free. Timely is better than free.

Dinner at The Warehouse was a massive disappointment. The crayfish were good. Or was that the crawdads? The wine list?
Unusable. Skip it. In other news from the evening, the bar at Restaurant Eve still holds its own, but Jackson 20 has slipped to skip it level as well. So sad that the old Alexandria Monaco is now a Marriott property.

On return from dinner around 11, we were greeted with a nice amenity. Thanks Stephani. The ice cold San Pelegrino is particularly welcome.

Sitting room 619

Sleeping room 619

The huge glass shower will do just fine.

Shower? Perfect.

Once the work was done, there were museums to see. First stop was the National Building Museum to see Hive. Well worth the visit.

Home of hive. At least for a while.

That was followed by another great lunch at Bistrot du Coin.

And a visit to the Phillips Collection. The old building is under renovation, so only half of the paintings as usual were out. But still fantastic. An NPS introduction to the stunning art of German artist Markus Lüpertz.

German artist Markus Lüpertz

The suit

Detail from Spoon

German artist Markus Lüpertz

A fantastic day. Followed almost immediately on its heels by a fantastic evening.

Roses Luxury is just as stellar as its incredible reputation. Just go. We showed up at 5:10pm and walked right in for a 180 minute dinner extravaganza.

Those poor “other people” had to wait in line

Caviar service

Yes, we took pictures of our food. We also had extensive conversations about it.

The best dish of the evening was a soft shelled crab served with Singapore-style chilli sauce (on the sweet side) over steamed buns with pickles. Delicious.

So really. Go to Roses Luxury as soon as you can.

Then there was the Columbia Room in the back booth (our usual NPS haunt), this time with the geek patrol. Excellent as usual, this time less for the drinks presentation than the company.

Columbia Room



Rum from 1857 always seems like a good idea after the tasting menu is complete.

The moral of the story is: get your work done quickly so you can spend some time being spoiled in DC!

Five showerheads and a real wish that Steph were around. We miss you Steph.

No fly July just barely ended this morning and I am still down South working on the screened in porch. Round about this time of year we usually head up to Boston and see our good friends at the Hotel Marlowe. Sadly, this year’s plans call for a different route, so we can’t say hello as usual and break our no fly July travel drought in the most perfect way possible.

The incredible staff at the Hotel Marlowe has pooled together a donation to support the Team Tartan Leukemia Cup boat two years running. (See this post from last year and this one from two years ago.) I figured since this year we are skipping Boston, we might be out of sight, out of mind. But no. Joe Capalbo and his staff made a very sizeable donation anyway.

Team Tartan sails the Leukemia Cup in Kilts!

Team Tartan sails the Leukemia Cup in Kilts!

Just wow. You guys are the best. Thank you for helping us fight blood cancer!

When we hit our goal (a formidable $42,000 this year), we sail in kilts. We’re well on our way to that again thanks to Hotel Marlowe and Kimpton Karma.

You’re welcome to donate too, dear reader. Every penny counts.


Special thanks to Hotel Marlowe from Team Tartan

Special thanks to Hotel Marlowe from Team Tartan

No Fly July 2016

July 4, 2016

No fly July means no airplanes, no hotels, and a bunch of actual thinking. Maybe a dip or two in the river for good measure.

See you in August.

It’s true that NPS has been here countless bajillions of times. And it is true that like in all relationships we’ve had our ups and downs. But the Hotel Marlowe staff (ably led by GM Joe Capalbo) outdid themselves this time. Best amenity ever. Wait for it…

Team Tartan sailing in the 2013 Leukemia Cup.

Team Tartan sailing in the 2013 Leukemia Cup.

The staff made a sizeable donation to my Leukemia Cup sailing team. Holy cow you guys absolutely rock. (You, dear reader can join em here.) We’re trying to raise $22,000 this year, and every penny counts. Just wow.

Thanks Amanda and Ryan and everyone else involved.

Thanks Amanda and Ryan and everyone else involved.

I am in 621 which seems to be my default room these days (though I do fondly recall the Presidential Suite…yes I do…love that prosthetic blog memory unit!). Things are very nice here with plenty of room to relax and get some work done before the work starts…or something.

Bedroom 621 at Hotel Marlowe.

Bedroom 621 at Hotel Marlowe.

Living room with really TALL furniture in 621 at Hotel Marlowe

Living room with really TALL furniture in 621 at Hotel Marlowe

I do really like the bathroom part of this room, though I still have never been in that huge tub. One of these years, I swear.

What is that in the mirror?

What is that in the mirror?

The shower is definitely not plastic. NPS approved.

No plastic to be seen near the shower in 621 at Hotel Marlowe

No plastic to be seen near the shower in 621 at Hotel Marlowe

Though I am missing my rock in the middle of the Shenandoah River now that no fly July has come to an end, Hotel Marlowe and their killer staff are a home away from home. Five showerheads plus two.

The evening started with a delicious cocktail at Brick and Mortar. Great space. Great vibe. Great cocktails. Good place for a business chat. After a Greenpoint, we tried a house invented More Than Classic:
1 oz wild turkey 101
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Braulio
.25 oz demarara syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
A roller coaster of a drink that starts bitter and is a bit too sweet in the end. Not much in the middle. But a decent experiment.

Dinner at Bondir was nice, but they are trying too hard. The first three courses (bread included) were a veritable confusion of great tastes. Too much going on. But some sublime ideas in there. Main course and desert were much better. All in all, Bondir seems overpriced to me. The atmosphere is nice and homey though.

All this and a telescope to boot.

All this and a telescope to boot.

Don’t tell anybody, but I have only been on 2 airplanes since June, and one was today! You see, air travel is no longer something I look forward to since it devolved to “bus service in the air” a couple of years ago. It was a long slow death spiral, but consistent and very much depressing.

As long time readers of NPS know, I am no longer a fan of United airlines. After 10 years of being a 100K member and 1,560,787 miles, United finally used up ALL of my remaining loyalty. That’s right. Every drop. I’m stuck with United since I live near a major hub of theirs, but I plan to do what I can to avoid flying with United.

So, for the first trip back from the famed “no fly July” we’re giving Jet Blue a shot. Lets compare and contrast, from the sublime to the stupid.

Why Jet Blue is Better than United (a one trip comparison)
1. flies modern equipment (new embrear regional jet vs United prop (?!) jet)
2. has a better commuter terminal for East coast travel at IAD (Terminal A, the “walmart” terminal sucks)
3. costs less (by $200 to get to Boston and back)
4. people at Jet Blue seem to like their jobs (at United they all know Jeff Smisek sucks and they hate working for him…really)
5. whole cans of soda water by default even in cattle class
6. United loves to talk about what they are “gonna” do, but they never get it done –> WIFI = not that hard
7. Jeff Smisek sucks and he is the CEO of United

Not that Jet Blue is perfect mind you. I don’t like paying $50 for an extra bag as a newb, but I have to have my bag of electronics for this trip. I also don’t like paying $30 more so I can get on first and stow my instruments, but I am sure as heck never checking my precious violin. So that all sucks. This trip will cost me $160 more than planned. Maybe #3 up there is wrong.

In the end it is clear that I need an airplane.

p.s. Here is a comparison between United and Delta FWIW.

Getting back up in the saddle can be a challenge sometimes, especially after no fly July. Michal Penek and her crack staff at the Hotel Marlowe are doing what they can to make things easier. (United airlines, on the other hand, flew me up here with no upgrade as per usual. United sucks.)

Before you threaten to get out your tiny violin and play me a sad sad song, note that there has been lots of music lately too during the July hiatus. No time for that in airplane mode! The last hurrah on the music front was this weekend’s 20th anniversary Oopstock in the far reaches of the New Hampshire’s darkest jungles.

Drive in at 11pm? No problem. Everybody said hi. Super friendly and nice welcome, even to a zombie cruising on 3 hours of sleep. Thanks you guys.

San Pellegrino and cheese puffs, what more could you want?

San Pellegrino and cheese puffs, what more could you want?

Day came on early and bright in room 621.

Instrument pile in the corner.

Instrument pile in the corner.

The telescope, blinded by the light.

The telescope, blinded by the light.

In Kimpton scuttlebutt news, Joe Capalbo is coming back to run the Marlowe after his stint at the Onyx, and Michal is headed to the Onyx to take his place. Musical chairs! Of course we selfishly like to see good management promoted, because it means more great service from Kimptons in the future.

Nothing but blue skies.

Nothing but blue skies.

Five showerheads and a wary look at the upcoming travel schedule for the Hotel Marlowe.

In other Boston news, the usual visit to The Blue Room followed by a late night at drink took place on schedule and slightly over budget.

Palmer concocted a Fancy Free as follows:
2.25 oz Eagle rare (wheated bourbon)
.75 oz Luxardo
2 dashes Angostura Orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Express orange peel over drink (shaken and strained)

No Fly July 2013

June 30, 2013

It’s that time again. Time to take a break from travel, slow down, do some thinking, and move all of my meetings to the rock in the river.

The 4 o’clock rock.

No flying means no United (yay!), and no hotels, and thus no showers to write about. See you in August!

No Fly Noel 2012

December 2, 2012

It’s December, and that’s a good thing. No fly noel begins on December 1st. A break from relentless travel is just what the doctor ordered. Well kinda. I am flying to New Orleans next weekend for a leukemia cup event since Team Tartan won the cup this year. It’s not work though, so it doesn’t count!

Travel was up one notch from last year, and that’s bad. I’m looking for another 10% reduction somehow. The Coal Stove Sink hack seems to have played up to its max (17 guests again this year) and no fly July and no fly Noel hold firm.

2012 Tripometer.  The data show that trips are up.  That is bad.

2012 Tripometer. The data show that trips are up. That is bad.

During 2012, I flew 100,323 miles (so far…one trip still to go, and two segments not yet recorded by United whose computer system is blazingly slow). Speaking of United, did I mention that UNITED AIRLINES SUCKS?! I meant to say that. 2012 was even worse that 2011. Astoundingly awful. Lets review:

  1. United off to a Pedantic 2012
  2. United Express Random Number Generation
  3. No Upgrade for You -or- United Sucks in 2012 Too
  4. United: Small Patch of Light Replaced by Darkness
  5. United Express: Mesa vs Shuttle America, Mesa Loses
  6. United Airlines Sucks in Advance
  7. How Does United Suck? Let us Count the Ways
  8. Frequent Travel is for the Birds: United Still Sucks
  9. United International Travel Not What it Used to Be
  10. A, O, Way to Go United
  11. United Sucks: One Third the Airline for the Same Full Price -or- All Your Regional Upgrade Certs Are Belong to Us
  12. United Regional Travel Woes
  13. How United Airlines Deals with Sandy
  14. United Airlines Still Sucks: Global Premiere Upgrade Useless Again
  15. United Airlines New Low: 2012 Service Sucks

Holy cow, 15 entries about why United blows chunks?! I guess 2012 was worse than I remembered. I really need to fly a different airline.

It should be very clear why no fly Noel is important. Must retain sanity and rest my weary bones beside the fire. Then I can do it all over again in 2013.

No fly July 2012

July 16, 2012

After a two week delay (including a trip to Athens on United), no fly July has finally arrived.

No flying means no hotels. No hotels equals no strange showers at all (plastic or otherwise). See you after August 20th.