My Old English Sheepdog, Benjamin, has always been a goofy fellow, and for a while after I moved to my new home he kept finding creative ways to escape the fenced back yard. I turned to Midjourney AI to imagine the adventures Ben might choose, if he could make good his escape.
JDRF is a cause that’s dear to me, and for years I participated in their Rides to Cure–more than 50 of them, in fact. After taking a break, I’m back and riding in La Crosse, WI. It’s not about the miles for me, it’s about raising money that supports critical research and advocacy that can change the lives of people with type one diabetes and their families.
You can donate to JDRF and show your support for the important work they do. I’ll appreciate it.
Saturday I headed north to Virginia, away from the worst of the thunderstorms that were developing. The weather app suggested that if I could stay clear of storms by 11 am, I’d be in the clear for the next couple of days. I brought along a change of clothes in case I roamed too far from home and wanted to turn my day trip into a two-day trip.
The ride to Fancy Gap, VA was a breeze. All highways and Interstate, no rain. When I jumped on the Blue Ridge Parkway it looked like I had mostly clear skies ahead. It wasn’t until I got to Groundhog Hill that I noticed a storm chasing me. I’d stopped to take a few photos then felt a drop. And another. And many more. I scooted away, continuing north, until I outran the rain for a while before passing under another cell that left me a little damp.
I got off the BRP at Floyd, VA, thinking I’d look for lunch. The crowds in the center of town convinced me to keep going, so I turned onto 221 N with the idea I’d continue on to Roanoke and find a place to stay. Going out town, this place caught my eye and I stopped for a biscuit and superb latte. If you’re in Floyd, visit. You won’t regret it.
The break gave me a chance to look for rooms in the Roanoke area. Dammit, it was graduation weekend. After looking at a string of overpriced hotel rooms, my mind was made up — I turned south on Hwy 8 and headed home.
That choice had its benefits. The route is lovely and I got to check on one of the few remaining covered bridges in Virginia.
All in all, not a bad day on the bike.
Four days in Florida and no plans? Sure, and very few photos as well. Because swimming in the lazy river, consuming boat drinks, and playing cribbage didn’t seem photo worthy at the time.
But there was the giant ferris wheel at Icon Park. You would think riding a giant ferris wheel would be simple. But at Icon Park, it’s not. Before boarding, you have to navigate the many people who want to document your ride so they can sell you photos or try to get you to gamify your experience. All this, when you just want to stand around on the giant wheel and watch the surroundings. It’s exhausting.
And there was Celebration. I hear the governor is going to build a state prison on top of it. Pre-prison construction, it has a nice sushi restaurant and not enough parking.
Image generation and manipulation aren’t new concepts. The various artificial intelligence tools, like Midjourney, do it faster than humans and produce sometimes-eerie, sometimes-accurate results. A lot of my experiments involve rewriting history, like the above photo that imagines Nixon dancing in the Oval Office (because who can imagine Nixon dancing?). These are a few samples.
I needed a brief vacation, and Montreal was a convenient place to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in far too many years. That’s how I ended up there for a long weekend, and while I normally would have spent the entire time wandering the streets, chasing interesting photographs, and sampling local food, very little of that happened this time. Aside from a pleasant Friday spent roaming Old Montreal, weather the rest of the weekend was cold and snowy and that made sipping bourbon on the sofa and talking into the wee hours far more appealing.
All that’s to say if you’re looking for a guide to Montreal, this is not your place. But I can offer my abbreviated greatest hits:
La Banquise, which is a classic stop for poutine, had a line out the door so we went across the street to Microbrasserie Pit Caribou (951 Rue Rachel E). They have local microbrews, including a tasty blond IPA, liquor, and charcuterie that featured ridiculously good bacon. It was packed, but the staff was friendly and we got a table quickly.
Montreal bagels are a thing. I don’t remember where we bought them, but I liked them and strongly recommend not thinking, “a bagel is a bagel,” because these are not what you’re used to eating, at least if you live in the US.
I’m a fan of Les chocolats de Chloé, where I bought citron, rhum et raisin, and banane chocolates. They were fantastic. They were even better for breakfast, or so my friend told me.
I have a Ferris wheel fetish, so we rode the La Grande Roux. The visibility was terrible and it was snowing, so our timing wasn’t great. But I was on a mission. If you’re in Montreal, pick a clear night and ride it.
One more travel note: This was my first trip with Global Entry, and bypassing the line made all the hassle associated with getting approved worth it. Step up to a kiosk, take a selfie, go straight to passport control. Easy.