MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Not Live Blogging Sharp Park


We were planning to spend New Year's Eve with friends in Carmel, but Sigrid woke up with the flu or bubonic plague or something, so we had to beg off.  This created a problem.


My 2012 New Year's golfing resolution was to play more rounds of golf  than the POTUS. As of this morning I was locked in an 18 round tie with President Obama, leaving me one short of accomplishing my goal.   Roy agreed at the last minute to meet me at Sharp Park for a twilight round to play out the old year.


No time to Live Blog. Even with a lot  of creative course management randomly switching holes to avoid the slow groups in front of us, we almost did not get all 18 in and finished the last hole in complete darkness.



I did not play well, but at least I kicked Erickson's and Obama's ass.

MW - 105
RE - 109

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

ADDENDUM - The Final MW vs. BHO 2012 Golf Rounds Final Tally

Sunday, December 30, 2012

19th Hole


BP 90
MW 110
MS 111


The wheels came off at the end, but at least I kicked Strickland's ass.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

I drove the greenside trap on 17



It was harder to get out than it should have been. A lot harder.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

17th - The beer hole


 Bob does not want his beer.


  The Mikes are playing for it on 17. 


The pressure is intense.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

OM out of trap on 14...


... barely.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

At the turn


BP 43
MW 52
MS 56

The other Mike wanted to beat Bob today. He'll be lucky to beat me.


Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

On 7


 Believe it or not this was a good drive.


3 putt for the bogey.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Other Mike tees off on 4





Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Live Blogging Lincoln


Yes, it is as cold and wet as it looks.We had a tee time at Sharp Park, but four holes were closed and some fairways looked like lakes. We moved the venue to Lincoln.


Bob gets us started with a mulligan into the trees on the left.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rainbow over Baghdad by the Bay



Like waves, the Pacific storms are rolling in sets of three this year.

Pineapple Express

In a short break after the middle wave over the weekend we had a nice double rainbow over the bay.

Click to biggify.

Not sure what to think about that "pot of gold" to be found down at Fisherman's Wharf.


I'd hate to see a tourist get it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Addis Ababa - Finis

One more ride with Alxe
Itinerary - Day 23: Full day in Addis Ababa - Departure 
Today, you will have a full day city tour of Addis Ababa which include: Merkato, the largest open air market, St. George Cathedral, Ba’ta Mariam and Pissa and Churchil Avenue for last minute shopping. In the evening, there will be Grand Holidays’ complimentary farewell dinner party with traditional special buffet and local drinks. There will also be cultural dance show of the different ethnic groups living in the country. There will not be any better way of ending a trip. At the end of the Farewell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight back. End of tour!
Fond farewells & last drink with Yohanes, Alxe and Des
Journal: 
The itinerary for the day was irrelevant, as we've already done most of it.  We took the city tour on our first full day in Addis three weeks ago. We enjoyed the farewell dinner celebration last night. That just left last minute shopping. Sigrid did have a shopping list.

I should mention that I again reacted badly to the Ethiopian food at our farewell dinner last night. I don't believe there was any problem with the food (no one else had an issue).  It was purely psychosomatic. This was the first time I ate injera since getting poisoned at the Buska Lodge.  My system was just not taking any more chances with Ethiopian food, no matter how much I like it. Net net -  Sigrid went shopping with Alxe and Yohanes. I stayed in the room, watched Al-Jazeera to catch up on the world,  reorganized the bags for the flight, and worked on the blog.

MW RECOMMENDED
Des, Yohanes, and Alxe joined us for a final toast in the Jupiter Hotel bar before heading to the airport. We've been living with these guys for the last three weeks and are going to miss them. This is probably a good time to give our hearty recommendation to Grand Holidays Ethiopia. Des worked extensively with Sigrid over a lot of months to put this itinerary together. We had complete confidence in Alxe as our driver. He kept us safe and comfortable over a lot of days, on a lot of terrible roads, navigating difficult traffic condition. And Yohanes is just a great guide that afforded us a unique opportunity to experience the culture of the country he loves. They are a terrific team.


Regarding the flights -  This was a five airport, 36+ hour routing:

ADD => KRT => FRA => SEA => SFO

The Khartoum stop was a bit of a surprise. Apparently Lufthansa has major fuel infrastructure in Khartoum. Every flight out of Addis stops there for refueling. A five airport day is never a good day. A 36 hour, 5 airport day is definitely a bad day. At least we were in business class, and that almost made it tolerable. Almost.

Dinner time on Lufthansa

We had two security / custom episodes of note.  Entering the Addis Ababa airport, all baggage is run through a security screen.  Right off the bat, my obsidian rock caught the attention of the security personnel.  At first the screener said it was not permitted to take the rock out of the country.  We spent some time explaining that this was just a rock we picked up off the side of the road as a souvenir. Finally they relented, putting the rock back in our bag. We thought that was the end of it. It wasn't.

A couple hours later, as we were boarding the flight, we were intercepted by Lufthansa personnel saying that security wanted to talk to us. What followed was a tour through the bowels of the airport to another security baggage screening machine where again they wanted to look at my rock and again said it was not permitted to remove it from the country.  I did not want to miss the flight, so was constrained in my ability to put up a spirited defense.  In the end, I am disappointed to report that they kept my rock.  I do not understand what makes Ethiopian security so possessive about rocks that litter the sides of their roads.  In retrospect, I suspect the rule is really not about rocks, but about removing ancient hominid artifacts and tools. Since obsidian was used extensively as tools by our ancestors, Ethiopian airport security apparently assumes that all obsidian is an artifact. It's not. My rock was just a rock. I am very bitter about the loss of my rock.


 From Frankfurt we chased the sun all the way home. We took off after dark, and the sun spent most of the time just above or below the horizon for most of the flight, only really getting dark as we flew over the arctic circle.

Approaching Seattle

We went through U.S. customs in Seattle. Why did we fly into Seattle instead of directly to SF? Because United is punitive when you use points for a big trip.  That is the only reason I can think of.  I checked off the box on the customs form admitting we did indeed spend some time on a farm or pasture. Cattle were everywhere in Ethiopia. The whole country is a pasture. Checking that box caused us to be diverted through agricultural screening in customs.  They dug out our hiking boots and cleaned them for us.  We were actually kind of  appreciative. I did not want to clean them.

Finally got home after dark. It was a great trip, but there's no place like home. 

Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Ethiopian adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Since we will not have internet access for most of the trip, my hope is this will make it easier to add some pics and journal commentary if and when we run across an internet connection. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. We'll see how it goes. UPDATED

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tia, Melka Kontre, Tia Stele, Awash River, Butajira Road


Itinerary Day 22: Hawassa-Addis Ababa 
In the morning, drive back to Addis Ababa through Tia and Melka Kontre on the Butajira road. On this route you will visit places including, Melka Kuntre, and Tia Stele Field.   Melka Konture pre-historic site is situated on the south face of the Awash River Gorge opposite Melka Awash. It’s regarded to be one of the most important Stone Age sites in Ethiopia. This site is best known for the numerous Stone-Age artifacts that have been unearthed along the river including a variety of cleavers, hand-axes, and other tools made from basalt and other hard rocks. The site has also proved to be an important source of fossils of extinct mammals. En-route, here you will visit different tribal villages and typical housing styles of the Gurage and the Oromo. Our final stop on this tour is Tiya, where we can see the northernmost example of a peculiar type of engraved, standing stelae which stretch across parts of southern Ethiopia. These stelae are believed to have been erected between the 12th and 14th centuries and are almost certainly grave markers. Recent excavations at Tiya have revealed the remains of young people of both sexes, aged between 18 - 30 and buried in fetal positions. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stelea field at Tiya today comprises more than 45 stones of up to 2m.
Hawassa to Addis Ababba by way of Lake Ziway
Journal:
This was the last real tour day of our Ethiopian adventure as we fly out of Addis the following evening.  We drove from Hawassa to Addis Ababa, and instead of winding down, packed a lot into this day. This post will not do it justice. There is just too much ground to cover. We'll focus on the highlights with a few comments and representative pics for each stop.

Rastafarian Village


Sometime in the 1930's, the Rastafarians decided that Emperor Haile Selassie was a god when a drought ended with his visit to Jamaica. Or something. In any case, they've determined that Ethiopia is Zion, many made the pilgrimage to Ethiopia and established the movement here. We decided a drive-by of the Rastafari Museum was adequate given everything else we wanted to do today.

Rift Valley Overlook


I shot this panorama of the rift valley and Lake Ziway from an outlook just off the road.  The rift valley is of volcanic origin. Large veins of black obsidian glass can be seen in the ridges, with chunks and shards of obsidian all over the ground. The glass fascinated me and I picked up a nice 2-3 pound obsidian rock to bring back as a souvenir. Alas it was not to be (see tomorrow's bitter post on Addis Ababa airport security).


 Picture of me holding an obsidian rock I hoped to bring home. 
For reasons that are unclear to me, Sigrid chose to not include the rock in the picture.

Lake Ziway


At the junction of a feeder creek in the middle of a marsh near the shore of Lake Ziway, fisherman bring in their catch each morning.  An extraordinary collection of birds converge for an easy feast as the fisherman clean the catch.  The fishermen attract locals interested in the fish, and the birds bring tourists for the spectacle:









Coffee Ceremony 

The last coffee ceremony of the trip. I'll miss them.  I'll miss the coffee.


Perhaps I will bring back some green coffee beans and import the ceremony to San Francisco.

Tia Stele Field


Not as dramatic or ancient as the stele field we visited in Axum, this UNESCO World Heritage site was still interesting for the quantity of stele found here, the mystery of the markings and the question of who is buried beneath these stones.  Many of the stele are engraved with an icon of the head rest / "pillow" used for sleeping by many in Ethiopia.  Scholars argue about the meaning of this glyph appearing on most of the stones. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one. Perhaps it was simply the Ethiopian equivalent of "Rest In Peace".



Melka Kunture Archaeological Dig


The Melka Konture archeological site visit was brief, but one of the most interesting stops of the trip.  This is the site of some of the earliest finds of hominid remains showing tool use and permanent settlements. It was first made famous by the work of Richard Leakey in the early seventies. An enthusiastic and informative archaeology student (who's name I regretfully neglected to write down) guided us through the multiple structures displaying artifacts, educational panels, and the dig site itself.

Obsidian tools found at Gombore II

Gombore II

 After fielding our enthusiastic questions about the Gombore II dig site (more than you ever want to know in the PDF linked here), he decided to show us what he called the "new dig". 

New Dig

A Homo Erectus skull was found at this dig just 3 days before. His excitement about that find was infectious. We'll be looking for a paper in Nature regarding that find and will link here if and when we see it.

Back to Addis Ababa and the Farewell Dinner

We have a farewell dinner scheduled for tomorrow night, courtesy of our tour operator Grand Holidays Ethiopia. During the drive we realized that timing is not going to work given that we are flying out that night.  Yohanes scrambles and reschedules the event for tonight.

Alxe, the Land Cruiser, and the Jupiter Hotel in Addis
 We check back into the Jupiter Hotel, bringing the trip full circle.  For some reason the Jupiter looks a lot more upscale at the end of the trip than it did at the beginning. We are happy to be back and after a short rest reconvene for dinner.  We are delighted to meet Yohane's girlfriend Tigist. Sigrid wears the scarf made by her father.  


The dinner was a at night club that featured popular entertainers and musicians performing high energy versions of traditional Ethiopian music and dance.  There seemed to be more locals that tourists.  Ethiopian food was served buffet style and washed down with Ethiopian beer. It was a long day, but a great day, and a great finish to the trip.

Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Ethiopian adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Since we will not have internet access for most of the trip, my hope is this will make it easier to add some pics and journal commentary if and when we run across an internet connection. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. We'll see how it goes.UPDATED