Category Archives: Uncategorized

I think I have remembered all the planes I have flown on since I started traveling in the 1960′s. That was tough. I started traveling as a child in the Midwest, then to South America, and then, well all over.
Douglass

DC3 North central
The first plane I remember flying on was  a North Central Airlines DC- 3 My father worked for North Central so we flew non-rev, meaning free. We called these planes puddle jumpers.

There are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo aircraft. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3″. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation.” Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved. This was indeed the case when I flew on DC-3′s in Bolivia in the early sixties. The runway was not paved. More exciting was that the ceiling (maximum height the plane could fly) was below the altitude of the Andes mountains we were flying through. So, we weaved our way between the mountains, and could look out the windows at peaks far above us.

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago
For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago. It was a big deal because it had four engines!

Very few DC-4s remain in service today.  There are a couple nostalgia airlines still flying them, and I would love to take a trip on one again.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.
The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.
I flew on DC-6s all over South America on LLoyd Aereo Boliviano. I flew over the Andes and across the Amazon jungle to Brazil. I swear I remember flying over a native village in the middle of  the Amazon rain forest, looking out the window, and seeing natives angrily waving spears at the giant silver bird. Remember, this was 1964, we were flying at about 5000 feet, and I was 10.

I flew a Panagra DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an eathquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with smoke. Quite the flight!
I flew a Pan American DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an earthquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with kerosene smelling  smoke. Quite the flight!

The DC9 was cool because it was thie first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC9 was cool because it was the first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter.

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter. Although the last DC10 was delivered in 1989, some still fly.

Lockheed

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage and in cabin . Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011's commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world in promotional literature.

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage handling techniques  and in cabin service innovations, including a galley underneath the main floor. Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011′s commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world. Indeed it had almost a flawless safety record.

At this time in my life, my father worked for Lockheed. I got to go on a walk-thru of the plane before the first one was built. Then, when they went into operation I was sure to take a flight. It was a very quiet aircraft, also nicknamed the “whisperliner”.  It faced stiff competition from the DC10 and the 747, and proved to be Lockheed’s last civilian liner.

Boeing

Now, onto the Boeing line!

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper, one of America’s most mysterious outlaws. I used to fly these PSA 727′s from LAX to SFO to see the Grateful Dead. PSA had a midnight mail run flight for about US$10. The back half of the cabin was full of mail bags and front half full of hippies. We got away with things no one would dream of doing on an airliner today. The stewardesses just ignored us for the entire flight! Those were the days!

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The 747, known as a Jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being "beamed".

The 747, known as a jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being “beamed”. Instantaneous.

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, sinle aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes in a claustrophobic nightmare. It alsotakes a long time to board and deboard. not fun

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, single aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes it a claustrophobic nightmare. It also takes a long time to board and deboard. Not fun

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was the manufacturer's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everyting is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so Istood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. Itold him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied "wow, those are my favorites, step in here" So I pent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, the never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if the had to take over controld to land it and they said "nah, but we like to".

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everything is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so I stood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. I told him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied “wow, those are my favorites, step in here” So I spent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, they never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if they had to take  control to land it and they said “nah, but we like to”.

 

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The "triple 7 set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London.[Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I'll bet there some sore butts on that flight.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The “triple 7″ set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London. (Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I’ll bet there were some sore butts on that flight.)

I’ll get back to Boeing at the end of this post for obvious reasons.

 

AirBus

For now, let us look at the Airbus planes I have flown.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

Just as Boeing has stuck with the 7 theme in naming its craft, Airbus seems stuck on the 3xx theme.

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. Ihave made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. I have made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline. The carbon emissions of an A320 are less than a 737, and one of the lowest in commercial aviation.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90's and is very fuel efficient airplane. Indeed, if you pay the eco offsets when you fly, this is a good deal.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90′s and is very fuel efficient airplane.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger's point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger’s point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

Now for odds and ends.

For four long years I lived in a backwater called Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The only way in or out of Bocas (other than a chicken bus then a water taxi) was to fly. Two airlines served the airstrip (I will not call it an airport). One was Aeroperlas

Aeroperlas, or as I caled it scaryperlas flew thes Shorts 360 (or as I called them 'in your shorts") aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

Aeroperlas, or as I called it scaryperlas flew these Shorts 360 (or as I called them ‘in your shorts”) aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when yu hire teenagers to fly your planes.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when you hire teenagers to fly your planes.

Perhaps the safest plane I have evr flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

Perhaps the safest plane I have ever flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina and Stephen Bechtel's Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina on Stephen Bechtel’s Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

And now, the end, the finale. I was planning on boarding a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the most advanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics and passenger comfort! Well, dreamliners were grounded. I will have to wait. I will fly one as soon as I can!

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the mostadvanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics passenger comfort! We will see, as yu shoul know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

Thanks for reading all this!

 

Planes I Have Flown On In My Travels

I think I have remembered all the planes I have flown on since I started traveling in the 1960’s. That was tough. I started traveling as a child in the midwest, then to South America, and then, well all over.

Douglass

DC3 North central

The first plane I remember flying on was  a North Central Airlines DC- 3 My father worked for North Central so we flew non-rev, meaning free. We called these planes puddle jumpers.

There are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo  aircraft. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3”. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation.” Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved. This was indeed the case when I flew on DC-3’s in Bolivia in the early sixties. The runway was not paved. More exciting was that the ceiling (maximum height the plane could fly) was below the altitude of the Andes mountains we were flying through. So, we weaved our way between the mountains, and could look out the windows at peaks far above us.

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago. It was a big deal because it had four engines!

Very few DC-4s remain in service today.  There are a couple nostalgia airlines still flying them, and I would love to take a trip on one again.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.

 I flew on DC-6s all over South America on LLoyd Aereo Boliviano. I flew over the Andes and across the Amazon jungle to Brazil. I swear I remember flying over a native village in the middle of  the Amazon rain forest, looking out the window, and seeing natives angrily waving spears at the giant silver bird. Remember, this was 1964, we were flying at about 5000 feet, and I was 10.

I flew a Panagra DC8 from    Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an eathquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with smoke. Quite the flight!

I flew a Pan American DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an earthquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with kerosene smelling  smoke. Quite the flight!

The DC9 was cool because it was thie first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC9 was cool because it was the first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter.

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter. Although the last DC10 was delivered in 1989, some still fly.

Lockheed

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it  also used some very modern luggage and in cabin . Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011's commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world in promotional literature.

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage handling techniques  and in cabin service innovations, including a galley underneath the main floor. Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011’s commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world. Indeed it had almost a flawless safety record.

At this time in my life, my father worked for Lockheed. I got to go on a walk-thru of the plane before the first one was built. Then, when they went into operation I was sure to take a flight. It was a very quiet aircraft, also nicknamed the “whisperliner”.  It faced stiff competition from the DC10 and the 747, and proved to be Lockheed’s last civilian liner.

Boeing

Now, onto the Boeing line!

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper, one of America’s most mysterious outlaws. I used to fly these PSA 727’s from LAX to SFO to see the Grateful Dead. PSA had a midnight mail run flight for about US$10. The back half of the cabin was full of mail bags and front half full of hippies. We got away with things no one would dream of doing on an airliner today. The stewardesses just ignored us for the entire flight! Those were the days!

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time.  The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The 747, known as a Jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being "beamed".

The 747, known as a jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being “beamed”. Instantaneous.

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004.  Being a narrow body, sinle aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes in a claustrophobic nightmare. It alsotakes a long time to board and deboard. not fun

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, single aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes it a claustrophobic nightmare. It also takes a long time to board and deboard. Not fun

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was the manufacturer's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit.  Glass cockpit? This means everyting is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so Istood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. Itold him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied "wow, those are my favorites, step in here" So I pent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view!  The whole time, the never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if the had to take over controld to land it and they said "nah, but we like to".

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everything is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so I stood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. I told him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied “wow, those are my favorites, step in here” So I spent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, they never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if they had to take  control to land it and they said “nah, but we like to”.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest  fuselage in flight. The "triple 7 set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles  eastward from Hong Kong to London.[Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I'll bet there some sore butts on that flight.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The “triple 7” set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London. (Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I’ll bet there were some sore butts on that flight.)

I’ll get back to Boeing at the end of this post for obvious reasons.

AirBus

For now, let us look at the Airbus planes I have flown.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

Just as Boeing has stuck with the 7 theme in naming its craft, Airbus seems stuck on the 3xx theme.

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. Ihave made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. I have made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline. The carbon emissions of an A320 are less than a 737, and one of the lowest in commercial aviation.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90's and is very fuel efficient airplane. Indeed, if you pay the eco offsets when you fly, this is a good deal.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90’s and is very fuel efficient airplane.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger's point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but  it IS huge.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger’s point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

Now for odds and ends.

For four long years I lived in a backwater called Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The only way in or out of Bocas (other than a chicken bus then a water taxi) was to fly. Two airlines served the airstrip (I will not call it an airport). One was Aeroperlas

Aeroperlas, or as I caled it scaryperlas flew thes Shorts 360 (or as I called them 'in your shorts") aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got  this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

Aeroperlas, or as I called it scaryperlas flew these Shorts 360 (or as I called them ‘in your shorts”) aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when yu hire teenagers to fly your planes.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when you hire teenagers to fly your planes.

Perhaps the safest plane I have evr flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing  lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

Perhaps the safest plane I have ever flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina and Stephen Bechtel's Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by  kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina on Stephen Bechtel’s Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

And now, the end, the final, the future…

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the mostadvanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics passenger comfort! We will see, as yu shoul know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the most advanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics and passenger comfort! We will see. As you should know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

Thanks for reading. Sorry this was so long but after all I have been flying for fifty + years! Please share with a friend, and make a comment!

2012 in Review

WordPress does an interesting job of compiling mundane facts about blogs on their service. I thought I would share this with my readers just so you know you are not alone!

I also feel like maybe you would want to see a re-post of some of my favorite photos of the year, so here goes. They are not in any particular order, and if you want to know more about our trips, you can always navigate to them on the top of the page.

1295

My wife in front of the worlds largest beer mug. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Royal Selangor is a pewter shop. They make jewelry, picture frames, well just about everything from pewter. A great place to visit in KL

Sri Lanka

A restaurant in Sri Lanka that I just did not want to eat at!

20120425_325

On a tour in a medieval town in Italy, the mayor took my wife, the librarian, on a tour of their library which had thousands of volumes from medieval times. They actually let me hold one! They do not make books like this anymore. The art is hand painted. Amazing.

Uganda, equator

I have crossed the equator many times in my travels, but this was the most fun. This was taken in Uganda on a tour with Intrepid travels.

albino turtle

In Sri Lanka I visited a turtle hatchery and saw an albino turtle. Very unique!

assisi alley

In what was my favorite city in Italy. A street scene in Assisi.

berninis fave

We spent a few days in Rome, which everyone should do. I became a fan of the sculptor Bernini. His work is all over Rome, and all of it is exceptional. This was reported to be his favorite.

bocci

I tried my hand at Bocci. A game even an old guy like me can pick up. The old Italian gentlemen were quite patient with me and I had a great day.

emperors seats in the roman coliseum

When in Rome, be sure to pay for a good tour of the coliseum. We did, and we saw many things you will not see if you just walk in. This is a view from the emperors seat!

This is the original "senate floor" in the senate building in Rome.

This is the original “senate floor” in the senate building in Rome.

hitchiker

On my safari to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, this monkey jumped into the vehicle to ride along. Africa is wonderful!

We also visited the beautiful island of Mauritius. A bit out of the way, but a paradise.

We also visited the beautiful island of Mauritius. A bit out of the way, but a paradise.

Every year we make a trip to NYC. I think I am starting to like the place.

Every year we make a trip to NYC. I think I am starting to like the place.

While in Burma, or Myanmar if you wish, we went to Inle Lake. Besides these fisherman who row with their feet, there are dozens of other unique things to see there, and the rest of Burma.

While in Burma, or Myanmar if you wish, we went to Inle Lake. Besides these fisherman who row with their feet, there are dozens of other unique things to see there, and the rest of Burma.

An extreme bucket list item for the year was visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan, the happiest country on earth.

An extreme bucket list item for the year was visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan, the happiest country on earth.

miss Rwanda

My favorite shot of 2012! I call her Miss Rwanda. A mountain Gorilla posing for me with a welcoming bouquet!

There were more trips in 2012, and thanks to you readers for reading about them. You can go back and read them again if you so desire.

Please share this with FB friends! Please make a comment.

I am changing my entire look and feel in 2013, but I will still get to you somehow.

*****************************

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 30,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Diplomas I have Earned While Traveling

I travel because I  love to travel. I love planes and trains. I even love airports.

I am a travel blogger because I love to write. Hopefully you love to read what I write. That is the only reason I have a blog at all, because I really like the idea that someone, somewhere is reading what I write. I do not sell ads on my blog and never will. If you want commercials, go watch TV.

In the course of my travels, some of the adventures I have been on were so unusual, or so adventurous, that I actually earned a “diploma” for taking the trip. I was cleaning up my office for the first time since the invention of the internet and I ran across these four diplomas. I want to share them with my faithful readers, and of course tell you a short story about each one. So grab a beer and read on, please.

I earned this diploma the first time I crossed the Arctic circle. I had just been assigned to work in Prudhoe Bay, ALaska

I earned this diploma the first time I crossed the Arctic Circle. I had just been assigned to work in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Prudhoe Bay is 250 miles above the Arctic Circle. I spent 13 wildly prosperous months there. Yes, I was working for an oil company. I was young, I was greedy and I needed to make money to pay for my University education. It was a place of extremes. Not only an extreme salary, but depending on the season, either 24 hours of complete darkness or complete sunlight. I worked  84 hour weeks, 40 at my normally high wage, 40 at time and a half and 4 at double time. I lived in a construction camp where every thing was provided and I had no expenses. The money in my savings account piled up like the snow drifts in January. In the summer, after work, I fished the Sagavanirtok river and caught very large Arctic Char. In the winter I saw wild polar bears. In the spring I watched a three day migration of caribou. The tundra was alive with birds and flowers, or dead with ice and snow. And the Aurora Borealis, wow. When you are 250 miles inside the arctic, the northern lights do not appear on the horizon oh no. They are right above your head and they fill the sky. They make special patterns and the colors seem to chase each other across the your complete field of vision.

But the most amazing thing I saw there was TWO SUNS. One spring morning I was driving between sites when the sun rose about 10:30. I was pleased to see it, because there had been no sun for months that winter. Then, slightly to the west, rose a second sun. I was flabbergasted enough to come to a quick stop and stare. Just to be sure I was not completely losing my mind, I got on the radio and asked “ahh, does anyone else see two suns right now?” The answer I got was “Get off the radio Cheechako, that is a sundog” A cheechako is not nice term for a tenderfoot in the arctic, and a sundog is an atmospheric phenomenon that reflects the sunlight. But for a brief moment, I thought the world had changed forever.

In short it was a great choice I made to go there.

nazca

It took 30 years before I earned my next diploma, this one for a flight over the Nasca Lines in Peru.

The Nasca lines are, as far as I am concerned, proof that ancient civilizations were visited by extra-terrestrials. These lines cannot be seen from ground level. They are very large. The only way ancients could have made them is if they were guided from the air. The only reason to make them is to guide or welcome ETs upon arrival.

If you are skeptical about what I said, then explain to me why the ancients would carve what is obviously an astronaut, in a helmet, wearing a life support system, and waving hello. (This photo taken from alaudan.blogspot.com, which does a great job of explaining the Nasca lines

If you are skeptical about what I said, then explain to me why the ancients would carve what is obviously an astronaut, in a helmet, wearing a life support system, and waving hello. (This photo taken from discover-peru.org. The astronaut can be seen on the bottom  of my diploma, second from the right. Nasca has many depictions of  “earthly” animals, most of which are of a fantasy variety. There is even a whale, something just not found in the Andes.

At the time I was working in Peru. I went on a tour of places like Machu Pichu and  the fortress of Sacsayhuaman which is right outside of Cusco.

Sacsayhuaman is a very large complex put together with stones which are huge and weigh tons. On top of that they are cut from extremely hard rock, whch today we would have to use diamond saws to carve from the quarry. The ancients did not have diamond saws. Plus, they did not have the machinery to move them. On top of that they are articulated  to match the adjoining stones with extreme precision, and put together with no mortar? How? Ask ET, he did it!

Sacsayhuaman is a very large complex put together with stones which are huge and weigh tons. On top of that they are cut from extremely hard rock, which today we would have to use diamond saws to carve from the quarry. The ancients did not have diamond saws. Plus, they did not have the machinery to move them. On top of that they are articulated to match the adjoining stones with extreme precision, and put together with no mortar! How? Ask ET, he did it! (Photo courtesy of Andeantravelweb.net)

Another five yers passed before I earned this diploma for flying over Mount Everest

Another five yers passed before I earned this diploma for flying over Mount Everest.

This was an extremely magnificent experience. It is the first one I was able to blog about, and if you go back in my blog and choose Nepal, (or just clickhere) you can find many photos of this flight. I will forgo any further descriptions here. Go back and read the post. Suffice to say the flight is worth the trip to Kathmandu!

My last (so far) travel doploma was earned this year by making a tough trek thru the jungle in Rawanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas.

My last (so far) travel diploma was earned this year by making a tough trek through the jungle in Rwanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas.

Again, I covered this adventure in my blog. In fact, I made 7 posts and put up many photos. You can see them here. So, no need to say more here, navigate to the proper posts and get as good a vicarious experience as you can.

Thanks for reading and letting me brag. These diplomas mean more to me than My University degree. Tell a freind, and share on FB!

The Third Secret of Fatima Revealed

Just in case there is someone reading this who is not at least somewhat familiar with the legend about Our Lady of Fatima, I will give you a brief irreverent rundown. If you want more, you can always go to Wikipedia, but my version is more fun!

Fatima is a small village about two hours drive out of Lisbon, Portugal.  In 1917 three young Portuguese shepherds (all cousins) were (according to the legend) visited by a Marian apparition, six times over a six month period. The apparition is now referred to as Our Lady of Fatima. Our lady of Fatima is said to have entrusted the shepherd children with three secrets. The first is a description of hell. It is quite graphic and enough to make you give up drinking.

The second described the end of WWI and the coming of WWII. Once you get past the fire and brimstone, the second prediction was amazingly accurate.

Now we come to the third secret. Two of the cousins died at a young age from Influenza. The third, a woman named Lucia, who had become a nun, fell ill to Influenza in 1943. She had never revealed the third secret, saying that the world was not ready to hear it. So, the local bishop visited her bedside and convinced her to write it down, so it would not be lost to the world. Nuns tend to do what Bishops tell them to do, so she wrote it down. She sealed the secret in an envelope and told the church not to open it until 1960, when it would be better understood.

The envelope was stashed in the Fatima area until 1957 when it was delivered to Rome. As everyone knows, Rome can keep a secret. They did just that until 2000 when rumor and speculation around the secret were rampant. People around the world wanted to know…did Our Lady of Fatima reveal the end time? Why won’t the Church tell us anything?  One person was so desperate he hijacked a plane, with his only demand the revelation of the third secret.

In 2000 the Church told the world what was in it. Basically nothing, they said. It sort of predicted the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II, they said. They released some heavy fire and brimstone words describing fire and lights and flaming swords, all this supposedly the vision had by the three children and written down by Sister Lucia, they said.

Many people were quite disappointed and many more quite skeptical. There just has to be more to it, or why would they have kept is secret for so long.

Well in my first hour in Fatima I realized what Sister Lucia wrote down, and I am about to reveal it here. One sentence, no fire, no brimstone, no end of the world. What did she write? Ready? Here it is, hold on, sit down, take a deep breath. She simply wrote:

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

Build what you might ask.

Fatima, Our Lady of Fatima gift shop

THIS!

Our Lady of Fatima Gift shop

Quite simply the largest souvenir stand I have ever been in. If you take all the souvenir stores in Cooperstown and put them under one roof, it would not be as large as this place. They were doing enough business to keep the economy of Portugal alive for another generation. Mary Ann bought a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, I bought a ball cap made from cork. They sold Fatima wine, but I just could not fathom buying any. Maybe some of the Fatima Holy Water, but naaah.

I must say  once you got past the gift shop, the church did a beautiful job of creating a shrine for the faithful.

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

Topped off by this gold crown is the Basilica

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

The basilica is quite impressive. The tower the gold crown sitson is 223 feet high.

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

The basilica has masses all day long to cater to the continuous line of tourist buses bringing the faithful, the curious and the likes of me. The three shepherds are buried in this basilica. They were beatified in 2000.

Services are also continuously held a hundred yards in front of the church which is the sight of the original apparitions.

This photo is from the front of the basilica overlooking the esplanade built to accommodate the over  one million pilgrims who attend service here on May 13 and October 13, the dates of the most significant Fatima apparitions.  In the far distance you can see the Church of the Most Holy Trinity which holds over 9000 worshipers.

Somewhere dwarfed by these massive doors to this ultra modern and very huge church is my wife.

Just to give you an idea of the size of this church.

And what would a modern church be without a modern depiction of the crucifixion.

Thanks for reading. You can now sleep easy at night knowing that Our Lady of Fatima and the Mayans were not on the same calendar!

Please share this with all your social media friends, all it takes is a click on a button! Stick around, come back soon for more about our recent trip to Portugal.

The Incredible Kingdom of Bhutan. A Real Live Shangri-La

The Kingdom of Bhutan does not make it hard for a traveler to visit, it is just hard to get there. When I first started reading about traveling to Bhutan I was led to understand that only a certain number of visitor visas were issued in a year, and that you had to go with a government approved guide service while you were there. The second part is true, not the first. However, the number of visitors to Bhutan per year could not fill the Rose Bowl.  This is the last Shangri-La in my opinion. My fingers want to type all sorts of interesting and amazing tid-bits, but my mind wonders “where do I start? How can I convey the magic of this country while maintaining some level of credibility?”

Let us start with the official slogan of the Kingdom.  “Gross National Happiness“. Yup, the government is much more concerned with the Gross Happiness of the people than with the Gross Production. Until just a couple of years ago, this was a pure Kingdom, led by the fifth king since unification. He happens to be well educated, handsome and married to a foxy commoner now his queen. He decided that the country needed to elect a congress so that it would be considered a democracy. Bhutan borders Tibet (Which I refuse to call China, although to keep things cool in Bhutan, they do) and I guess they figured a democracy would be better protected by outsiders if anyone looking is to absorb them. The people did not really want a congress, but if the king did, well, OK. They held elections and there were a hand-full of parties. The party that won a vast majority of the congressional seats had a campaign promise of two words… “No Change”.

The kingdom measures the happiness of the people in an actual census. Figuring the entire population of Bhutan is about 650,000, this seems do-able. The questions range from how is your job, to how is the infrastructure, how is your health care, to, do you like the TV channels you get.  The government actually acts on things a great number of people might  be unhappy about. If that does not seem incredible to you, you live on a different planet than I.

The population is something like 90% Buddhist. They have a certain, not unique, but different strain of Buddhism in Bhutan. This type of Buddhism is called Vajrayana, which means the Diamond Way because it is based on unbreakable logic. It relies on Tantras and is sometimes called Tantrayana. Here I am talking like I am an expert on the philosophies of the Buddha and I not sure I know the difference between a Tantra and a Tantrum.

OK, about getting into Bhutan. There is a single overland entrance from India. This is where anything you find manaufactured gets into Bhutan, even beer bottles. They brew their own beer, but the bottles come from India.

My wife enjoying one of three brands of beer for sale in Bhutan. This one called Red Panda Ale is a Hefeweizen. Brewed by a German who came to Bhutan many years ago and found a way to stay. The bottle is embossed with the name of an Indian beer,(King Fisher) because you cannot manufacture bottles in Bhutan, too much pollutiion. By the way, it was the 4th of July, hence the shirt.

Both overland travelers  and air travelers must  pay the daily visitors tariff to the government.  This is a US$250 per day charge. “But Wait! You get a set of steak knives with that!” Actually you get a lot more. This “tariff” pays for your transportation, guide, entrance fees and even the hotels you will stay in and 3 meals a day! The only thing it does not pay is your beer.

Most people enter by air on Bhutan’s only Airline Druk Air. They have two or three Airbus A320’s and only fly from Bangkok, Bangladesh or as for us Kathmandu. They are the only airline serving the country.

A few posts ago (here) I linked my readers to a Youtube video of the approach to Paro International Airport. It was definitely different. As a frequent flyer I am not used to the airplane making radical turns after the landing gear is down. But obviously all went well or I would not be here posting this for you.

My wife Mary Ann is a fearless traveler, but she was as glad (at least) as I was to reach the ground in Paro.

Immigration paper work was easy because we had printed out our “Letter of Invitation” from the Bhutanese Royal Tourist Agency which confirmed that we had ponied up the money to the travel agency. Customs was a different story, although I was ready for them. They require a %200 duty on all cigarettes brought into Bhutan. You have to hold onto the receipt they give you because possession of tobacco is not allowed unless you can prove you paid the duty. That makes smoking very expensive, so most people don’t. More on that later.

Then we met our guide and driver, both dressed in traditional Bhutanese garments called Ghos. They are very distinct and attractive, but they look very difficult to put on.. Each one is made of different weaves, all quite colorful, yet subtle.

We drove from Paro to Thimpu, about an hour. I felt like I was in a magical fairyland. Disney could not have put Snow White in a more fantastic setting. Even the common farmers homes were quite beautiful.

A look at a very typical  agricultural setting in Bhutan. This country has yet to suffer from over population. They see what that has done to India and China (and the rest of the world) and the King has “asked” the people to have a zero population growth rate. Not a law, but a request, and the current generation is going along with it. Therefore, the countryside is left to agriculture and just left alone for the beauty. Gross National Happiness!

We arrived in Thimpu and found our hotel to be quite comfortable. However, we were on the third floor and when I asked where the elevator was, the look on the guides face quickly made it clear that Bhutan has no elevators.

This is the main intersection in Thimpu, the capital city. A few years ago, there was a traffic light here, but it made the people unhappy,and it was removed. Thimpu is the only national capitol in the world without a traffic light.

I am trying to keep my posts short, so that is all for this one. Next post, the national sport.

Stay tuned, share with a friend.

Streets and Doors in Umbria

This is a simple photo essay. The photos were all taken in medieval towns in Umbria. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Travel Bloggers Unite in Umbria!

I do not know where to start about my last ten days in Italy, so I guess I’ll start at the start.

Back in December ’11 I ran across a website called Travel Bloggers Unite. Dyslexic as I am I thought it said Travel Bloggers Untie, so I perused it. Oliver, the head honcho (maybe the sole honcho) at TBU was touting the third TBU conference. This one was to take place in Umbria, which is a region of Italy largely lost to the tourist trade.  It should not be. Umbria is one of the prettiest and hospitable places on the entire coconut.

Coat of arms of Assisi (Perugia), Italy França...

Coat of arms of Assisi

Travel Bloggers United Umbria contest

The Canadian tourism board was there to invite bloggers to Canada. They gave away these little "polar" bears and had a contest to go see polar bears in Canada. I soaked mine in wine

Umbria from Assisi

Although I like this foto of the Valle de Assisi from Assisi, for a real pro view check out another blogger ( a professional photographer) http://blog.kenkaminesky.com)
The weather was like this for the entire conference. For my wife and me fresh from the Arabian desert, it was wonderful. A very green valley, spotted with red poppies and grey olive trees.

The conference attendees were people I was very glad to meet. With a couple exceptions, I was the senior member of the circuit. I never meet these people travelling because they are mostly young enough to be my children. With that said, we have a huge thing in common; we all love to blog about traveling the world. With THAT said, I had one big difference with the majority of them. They support their travels by blogging, I do it for fun, and hopefully to entertain you my faithful readers. Maybe I am just too lazy to find sponsors, or maybe I do not want my blog to look like a NASCAR, whatever. I just do not “Monetize” (a blogger buzz word) my blog. I have nothing against those who do. In fact I admire people who can travel incessantly, and get paid by everyone from Ray Ban to American Express to support the wanderlust. It is just not my style or my need.

Amazingly the conversations did not center on war stories from different destinations. Oh there was the occasional “once upon a time in…” stories but they were more in passing than anything else. There were a lot of conversations about maintaining a blog, length of posts, how often you post and building readership. On the last point, it seems that Facebook and Twitter are the main avenues for finding new readers. I am late to both games, but since the conference I have managed to double my presence on the two of them.

Travel Boggers Unite, Umbria

This is me at what I called the speed dating session. Here we were able to meet potential sponsors, or for me better yet, people who represented locations that need more tourism. They look for people like me to go there and write about what we see and do. We were only allowed a few minutes at each table, hence my speed dating reference. I talked about a cross continental train ride in Canada and a trip to Oman to write about the new opera house. We'll see.

TBU arranged this conference, but it was the Umbria agencies for tourism and wine that hosted us in an incredible fashion.

Umbria

The Umbrians came out waving flags to welcome us at our first dinner together.

Travel Bloggers Unite, Umbria

There were about 250 of us and we ate quite well.

Perugia, chocolate

They even made us fresh chocolate goodies to promote their chocolate industry which is right behind the wine and olive oil businesses. Extremely good stuff.

After the conference Oliver arranged with The Umbrian Tourist people to take six groups off on amazing, beautiful, educational and fun trips. Ours was to wineries where we were treated like royalty. I’ll say more on that, much more, in upcoming posts. Let us just say, that when people treat me the way we got treated in Umbria, I am going to tell you about it. Hopefully it will plant the idea in your head that the region is an excellent destination for a vacation.

I want to Thank Oliver Gradwel, TBU and the region of Umbria for one of the best travel experiences of my life, AND the fact that I did not reach for my wallet once in 5 days. SWEET!

A visit to the Future, Masdar City and Institute

When I was young, I remember commenting aloud that in the future cars should be something people ride in, not drive. A person would just hop in, say where you want to go, then sit back and read a newspaper. People laughed at me.

Today, I experienced that world, except that now a person just reads their Iphone. The future has arrived, at least in Masdar City.

In it's "gate" is a Personal Rapid Transit vehicle, or better known as a PRT. This cute little unit will take you where you need to go in Masdar City at 40 Mph while you relax. Private fossil fuel burning cars are NOT ALLOWED inside the city!

Where to future boy? This is the control panel inside a PRT.

Now it is time to sit back and play with your Iphone. The PRTs run underground so that no dumb human gets in their way.

By now you are wondering where Masdar Cty is. It is on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. My wife attended a conference on library services there, and I just had to tag along.

I was a big a fan of the Jetsons. I thought that in my older  years I could  dress in silver Spandex, wear a beanie and ride around in a PRT, That world is here but limited. Unless you are a young future scientist type.

Right now, residents of Masdar are very carefully selected (7000 applicants,400 acceptances this year) from the elite of science students worldwide. If you get selected, you pay no tuition, get free books,free housing and a living allowance. All of this is from the coffers of the ruler of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is like the 7th leading producer of oil in the world. The leader could do any damn thing he wants with what is HIS money. This wonderful guy has decided to spend who know how much money (Forbes says 22 billion USD) on Masdar Institute. . His father, the founding father of the UAE, left him a legacy to “not rely on oil alone…and construct economic projects that will ensure a free, stable and dignified life for the people.” He also said the real asset of any nation is its educated people, The slogan of the institute is “Learning to Change the World”

Masdar institute is the heart of Masdar city. The institute is up and running, and the city will grow up around it.

This is a model of the residential area that exists today.

This is a model of the campus area. Take a look at the tower in the middle, more on that later.

In both these photos you will notice the roofs are covered with solar panels. Masdar also has a gigantic solar panel “farm” that produces so much power that they sell the excess to Abu Dhabi.

This is a real life picture of the dorms. The arcitecture is designed to both collect warmth and circulate tHe wind for cooling. There are no chemical paints used. This is the color of the desert near Al Ain ( not far away) and the sand is mixed with the cement to give this color.

This is the tower I mentioned before. It is a wind tower. It cools off the entire plaza it sits in. Modern idea you say?? Not really. The Arabs used towers like this for a thousand years. OK,not quite as modern as THIS one, but the concept is the same.

Basically, this is how it works. I have been in old forts and such with the antique version of this tower, and I know the concept works. Talk about renewable energy!

In the plaza cooled by the wind tower is what a future cafe might look like!

The institute itself is very very Jetson. This is a corner shot of a lab building, again notice the solar panels and the "environment compensating" architecture..

The reason I got to visit this city was because Mary Ann was attending a librarians conference. The library at the institute had less volumes than a decent book store. However, they were all extremely technical. They also had numerous computers, and I imagine these students do most of their reading on-line. Libraries of the future will abandon Gutenberg for Jobs.

The library has all the Masters Thesis of it's students. I chose this one because I could kinda understand the title.

Did I say ALL the books were extremely technial? OOPS

Masdar faculty comes from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley,  and few more of those little colleges. To be on the faculty of Masdar you must pass a review by MIT, and then spend one year on the Cambridge Mass campus developing graduate level course materials and participating in shared research projects.

Masdar has attracted tourists like Hillary Clinton and other potentate types.The ideas developed here should help the world progress past a dependency on oil. Don’t you find it ironic that oil is paying for it?

Thanks for reading, share with a friend and BACK TO THE FUTURE!

T20 Cricket World Cup Qualifying Tournament in the UAE

It will never top baseball in my Pantheon, but Cricket is actually a pretty good sport.

 

Since my wife and I (both BIG Baseball fans) moved to the Middle East, we have missed the taken-for-granted ability to drive to a stadium or turn on  the TV and watch the world’s best sport. Living here is like living in the off-season all year ’round. The two daily English language newspapers are run by Brits, so once you get past the most minute details of every soccer (football) game played from Europe to the Southern Sudan, the sports section has very little room for anything else. They cover auto or horse racing if there is a local angle, and to fill in the space where they cannot sell an ad, they cover Cricket. But Baseball might as well be  a rumor that hasn’t gone viral. I stay up with it using all the modern media, but I do miss the sport in a big way.

Brits try to tell us that Baseball evolved from Cricket. Hogwash. The only thing the sports have in common is they both use  a ball, and the balls are not that much alike.

This is a typical cricket ball. Notice it has two seems. A cricket ball is between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces in weight and 8 13/16 and 9 in in circumference.A baseball is between 5 and 5.25 ounces in weight and 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference.

Before I try to educate you anymore about this sport, let me tell you why I have decided to write about it.

Specifically I have become a fan of Twenty20. This a relatively new type of cricket. Basically, it is the same game. T20 was intended to deliver a fast paced game that lasted about as long as any normal sporting event, between 2 and three hours, well within my attention span.

T20 is practically a brand new style of the sport. It was introduced in England in 2003. It was introduced to bring in young fans. The old guard that still attended 3 or 4 day long “test” matches were dying out, probably from boredom.

Because it is available I have become a fan. The World Cup of T20 has qualifying rounds and this year the UAE is hosting one of these qualifying tournaments. The very first match was to be played mere miles from my home here in Sharjah, and it was between Uganda and the USA! It wasn’t like the Dodgers coming to town, but I still got excited to go.

That made me unique. When I showed up, the only people in the parking lot were a couple of very bored looking security guards. One of them walked up me and asked me for my pass. I looked at him and said “I am just a fan.”  The look on his face should have been enough to clue me in for the rest of the experience. About then, a fancy car with diplomatic plates pulled up. A handsome well dressed black man, expensive suit, shiny shoes, and an air of authority got out of the back and headed directly for the VIP entrance. I knew he was the Ugandan consul, so me, in a T shirt, jeans and flip flops just tagged alongside him. Moments later I was in the VIP seating area of a 20,000 seat stadium.

I  looked around and realized we were it. TWO fans, 2, dos, in the entire stadium. Incredible.

I took a seat right behind the USA bench and started cheering for the red white and blue. Most of the players on the USA squad had Indian or Pakistani names. Probably kids of immigrants to Silicone Valley. There was one really American looking kid named Korns. I yelled out “Hey Korns, you from Nebraska?” He turned around and in the perfect accent said “Houston, Texas”. I would love to hear his story about how he started playing Cricket in Texas.

The two top winners in this tourney get to go to the world cup tournament in Sri Lanka this year. So I started trying to pump up my team by saying things like “Sri Lanka, great beaches, beautiful women and excellent beer”.

Then I realized that with only two fans in attendance (actually the Ugandan Consul guy may have been there because he had to be, so maybe I was the ONLY fan) there was not going to be a souvenir stand. So I started asking the boys on the team to sell me their caps. I was saying “look, I’m the only fan here! I may be the only USA Cricket  fan in all of the UAE, or maybe the whole wide world! C’mon, sell me a cap!”  Finally the manager got up and went to the equipment box and pulled out a cap and a t shirt and tossed them to me. Made my day!

The pitch. In cricket the pitch is a rectangular area of 22 yards in length where the majority of the action takes place during the game. A Cricket field is a giant circle which like baseball has no set dimension, but usually is between 450 and 500 feet in diameter. This picture, (taken with my cell phone, sorry) shows two things if not clearly. One is the empty stadium. The second is that the pitch located in the middle of the field, is always a long way away from the stands. That means there is no real advantage to any seat in the stadium over another, they are all isolated from the action.

USA got severely beaten by Uganda. They got beat by something like 7 wickets, which is really a trouncing.

Learning to enjoy this sport means learning a new language.

Young Cricketer. “Yes, I cocked one off the splice in the gully and the blighter gathered it.”
Father. “Yes, but how did you get out? Were you caught, stumped or bowled, or what?”

I will try here to educate you on terms and rules

“Twenty20” refers to the number of overs each team bowls to the other in their innings.

Uh, what?

OK. OK.

I could go on and on with rules and terms, but I won’t. They all sound so Dickensonian and would just make you wonder why I ever picked up a bug for this game. But give T20 a try sometime, you might find it more exciting than say lawn bowling or Golf.

Thanks for reading. tell a friend, make a comment. I hope you were bowled over. This is a cricket term that means…ah look it up.

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