Travelog

FOTOFRIDAY: The Many Faces of Vegas

Posted on: Friday, January 20th, 2023
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Las Vegas has variety. Enough to make your head spin! (Photo of your MYBA host, Kirk Horsted, as taken by son Jesper Horsted.)

Because my son plays for the Las Vegas Raiders, I finally made it there for a game and some quality time with my boy. Since the game was the season’s last for the team—and they didn’t make the playoffs—I was gifted with family hangout time after the game for a few days. While not my first rodeo in Vegas, I was, naturally, blown away by the place.

You want attractions and entertainment you had no idea existed? Go there. AREA15 (“A Wanderland of Art, Music & Amusement) is where my faces photo happened—and offers just one example of a venue that will both delight and overwhelm.

So…a more thorough (though not tell-all!) travelog with some pics is in order and will post on these pages in coming days. (Working title: What happens in Vegas?) For now, the photo above offers a teaser-metaphor. Because indeed, your head spins when there. Stimuli abounds such that one rarely knows what to look at. A silly grin can happen, sometimes for unidentifiable reasons.

BUT…As travel destinations go, well, it’s an acquired taste. Some people love it—millions have moved there! In fact, the population has grown nearly 7-fold since 1980, now sitting at nearly 3 million!  And who knows how many tourists are there? It felt like another 3 million.

It’s always good to BreakAway and experience new things. And Las Vegas DOES know how to throw a mean party. But after leaving Las Vegas, I also had to agree with Saint Dorothy: There’s no place like home.

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New Carousel Pics Show BreakAway Extremes

Posted on: Thursday, October 27th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Extremes are hot these days—as in climate change, political divides, and BreakAway photo exhibits. Please take a glance at the lovely new photo pairing in the carousel above. Today we add another pair of opposites that somehow attract.

  • Some like it jam-packed

This photo from just another day at the MN State Fair demonstrates the other-worldly peace and joy that many folks feel from large crowds (other than, perhaps the sheriffs). The Fair routinely attracts 200,000 warm bodies a day. In similar scenes, the Penn State ‘White Out’ football game last Saturday hosted 110,000 fans. In one stadium.

These gatherings are hardly alone, and keep good, crowded company with music festivals, religious events (the haj attracts ~2.5 million pilgrims) and celebrity spectacles (think: Pope, Queen, funerals).

Most people, if asked, would say they don’t love crowded spaces. And yet we not only rush toward them when inspired, we achieve a profound sense of both escape and belonging. One that often costs a lot, requires ample planning, and may take days to recover from. Yet the memories and euphoria far outweigh the hassles.

  • Some like it solo

This charming picture of my daughter, chilling on a Caribbean beach, shows the other BreakAway extreme. Who doesn’t need to unplug, be alone, and seek some P&Q now and then? On this day, the beach was nearly empty, providing an idyllic spot to meditate while surrounded by nature and beauty. Far, far away from home and distraction.

How else do people elude the world’s relentless noise and masses? We could never count the ways, there are so many. But fishing comes to mind, as I often see their mellow and placid selves floating by. Others run, bike, swim, ski. Many unplug to read, write, garden, play music, or just…sit.

“Sit” is another word for meditating. When I see this pic of my daughter, I feel serenity.

As did she. I hope you do too—whether you find it via a BreakAway into swarms of like-minded people. Or choose to slip away into your quiet, happy space. Or both!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Just Another Villa in Italia

Posted on: Friday, October 14th, 2022
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Where DID they get all those statues?

When Autumn hits, my mind turns to Europe, as most of my time there seems to have been when summer ends, the tourists have retreated, the countryside is humming with harvest excitement (and treats), and the locals are throwing parties and fests all over—as they’ve done for centuries.

This lovely little villa comes from such a place and memory. Somewhere in Tuscany, surrounded by countless charming towns and vineyards. Such sights blur as you drive around until you feel like you’re hallucinating on some idyllic Disney ride.

I actually think I snapped the shot from a moving car. Probably on the prowl from one winery to another. Doesn’t really matter where…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Sailing into a Yachty Sunday of Yore…

Posted on: Friday, August 12th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If the wind is right, you can sail away…and find serenity. ~Christopher Cross

When in San Fran recently, I snapped this pic, and these sailboats blew up a priceless flashback from my memory bank…

Years ago, I found myself in San Francisco on a glorious, sunny Sunday. With friends who lived there, new and old. The two main sailors had been dear friends since Day 1 of college, and had become master sailors as youth on Lake Superior. Both had embarked on major voyages—including one who’d traversed over from Europe with parents and six siblings!

  • SUB: California daydreamin’

Being spontaneous, free-living Cali types, they mused, “What a day! We should go sailing!” So we did, thanks to a boat rental firm they both knew and used. In no time, we were crashing through heavy waves and winds, ditching monstrous barges, and dodging the smart-ass, daredevil windsurfers who would dart in close to splash us (and loved to ride the barges’ tsunamis).

We started deep in the bay, running gradually against a stiff wind toward the bridge and sea. Though we had to be back by dark, Captain G said, “What do ya say, we’ve GOT to get under that bridge, right!?!”

  • Keeping an unevel keel

We all agreed, cheered the ballsy challenge, and braced ourselves. Then we tacked, leaning sideways, back and forth—sometimes barely making forward progress—and confronting evermore angry barges as the bay got skinnier and each beast seemed determined to nonchalantly wipe us out like a rambunctious boy playing with toyboats in the bathtub.

Did we make it? Of course we did. Just as the sun went down, naturally. So we enjoyed a boisterous group hug while staring up at the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, turned the vessel about, and raced back to the marina by dark (almost)—thanks to now having…the wind at our backs.

FOTOFRIDAY parable summary: The bigger the memory bank, the richer the life.

Please keep investing.

Happy sails…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Have a Day in San Fran’s Tadich Grill

Posted on: Friday, June 17th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

This shot offers a rare view of the iconic seafood joint at rest, since the place is always packed to the, er, gills.

Few destinations promise a mini-BreakAway as intoxicating as a good restaurant. Especially for those of us that have worked (and visited) dining establishments as a way of life and, at times, obsession.

Tadish Grill, serving San Francisco since 1849, fits the bill. As their website states and your experience confirms, you get Large Portions…Fresh Ingredients…Fun atmosphere. I loved it, but so obviously did every other person cherishing their lost-in-time meal there. Even the waiters were like something from a Bogart movie. Talk about great people watching!

So I spent a day there last winter when on vakay in SF. Yes, a day. I met a few longtime friends for late lunch. One, a regular patron, had arranged a spacious, private booth. We lingered over a long, luscious meal of seafood courses and fine California wines. As the lunch crowd slowly left, we stayed on. Until we were the only table left…and this picture became possible.

At around 4:00, people started trickling in again. And the place became full by 5. The wine kept pouring, the conversation moreso. We actually pondered staying on for dinner. But, no, we eventually found the bright, busy streets. And stopped in to enjoy a few classic hotel bars for more conviviality and catching up as the day turned to night.

You can’t do this kind of BreakAway often. But I’ll remember the experience as long as I live. And with any luck, have another chance some day to return to Tadish.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Savor Your Sacred Spaces

Posted on: Friday, May 20th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Sunsets always impress at Sutherland Park in Sioux City—that’s in Iowa. 

How many times have I gathered with friends to throw frisbee, swill beer, play guitars, sing songs, take pics, kick off reunion opening ceremonies, hug through closing ceremonies, and (of course) watch the sun set? How many times have I done variations on those themes with my own kids or…alone?

Who knows? But the number would be staggering. And each visit feels sacred; I still travel to Sioux City often to visit my parents and others, and no visit there is complete without a BreakAway to that park. I make time, no matter the flurry of reality, and feel a profound gratitude for simple priorities and spaces.

The park has a history, naturally. In a way hilly town, this park sits atop one of the highest elevations and once had a functioning water reservoir underneath it, before water towers. Then the name changed—along with a few trivial details. But otherwise, it’s just a huge, grassy, glorious, flat space with a view of forever. And that includes Nebraska, South Dakota, endlessly rolling hills, and more.

Worries blow away there, while memories suddenly swirl inside the head, heart, and soul.

Is this heaven? Yes, and it’s Iowa. It’s also just a park. A nearly-forgotten place. And it is sacred. Please stop by your sacred spaces soon.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hola Mazatlán!

Posted on: Friday, April 29th, 2022
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Mazatlán boasts countless beautiful sculptures along the waterside. More than pelicans, maybe?

When a reunion of old friends got scheduled for late April, my initial impression was…Too late! By then, with any luck, the green is glowing and the tulips are dancing in MN. But this year…there is no such luck. It’s 38F with sleet at home, so I’m happy to be in Mazatlán. Here, the temps this week will range from 63 – 83. Clouds? Ain’t seen none yet!

I’ve been here before, and usually come as a lazy tourist eager to soak up sun, sand, and surf. So I’d make a lousy tour guide. Still, I know a lot about the place from observation and osmosis. One thing I know: This gritty city (yet golden in the right, rich places) has a LOT of sculptures. Most in a certain style, perhaps by the same artist or era?

Research will follow. When I get home and am back stuck indoors. For today, and there IS only today, I’ll snap the pics and enjoy the warmth and sights—highlighted by the artworks along Mazatlán’s 5.6 mile malecon. See! I do know a few factoids!

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FOTOFRIDAY: 40 Million Americans Can’t Be Wrong!

Posted on: Friday, April 1st, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


California, like most warm states, is crowded. But the reasons why quickly meet the eye.

Travel IS coming back! And yet…Covid and other Realities kept this Vita-D-starved sun-seeker from sneaking away for the winter BreakAways of my fantasies this year. But I did manage a week or so in California and flew away understanding why people keep flocking there.

Sun, sand, surf, and of course wineries, waves, and all sorts of wonderfulness. (Never mind the prices, the lines, or the challenges of traffic and finding parking.) In a country full of beauty and marvels everywhere, no place else offers the warmth and allure of Mediterranean-esque California. So it was good to see the place busy and buzzy and returning to post-pandemic normal.

I started going there—for long summer visits to an aunt who had escaped the Midwest—at the age of 6. Funny, when the sea mist grazes me and the sun embraces my face, I almost feel like a giddy kid again.

More about Super Cali soon!

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FOTOFRIDAY…Happy Mardi Gras!?!

Posted on: Friday, February 25th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

That finger-pointer might be saying, “Have fun, but…beware of crowds!”

New Orleans (a.k.a. NOLA, as regulars and insiders call it) may be the most magical, entertaining city in the USA. Despite an onslaught of weather disasters, crime, corruption, and Covid, the place always somehow rebounds and welcomes everyone with open arms and bottles.

Don’t be surprised when charming bartenders shake your hand and introduce themselves.

Mardi Gras is happening now, and for several days. (Although one could argue that it’s ALWAYS Mardi Gras there.) Fat Tuesday is, well, next Tuesday, March 1. Traditionally, that’s the pre-Lent big blowout night before 6 weeks of abstinence and laying low, leading up to Easter Sunday. Not to worry, though: in NOLA, the celebration never stops.

BreakAway has recommended casual visitors to avoid Mardi Gras and other peak times. Still, our hearts are in NOLA as Mardi Gras signals spring’s slow, but sure, return.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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Portland Provides a Pepper-Upper BreakAway

Posted on: Monday, December 6th, 2021
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

You’ll see it all in P-Town, even perky water-bikes at sunrise!

My daughter chose Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has acclimated swimmingly to a life of higher learning, new friendships, and next-level soccer. It was my fault she ended up here; a lifelong friend I visit has resided there for decades, and our gatherings and outings create the stuff of priceless memories—since age 5. 

Now I can get there even more often—this pic is from last month—and like savvy repeat travelers, seek to create a home away from home yet keep hiking new trails. That’s proven easy in Portland. Available outings extend like the mountainous vistas; the past is alive; and backdrops burst with curious stories. As for the people? They’re warm, weird, and friendly—see Portlandia, the TV series.

Unfortunately, like so many urban centers, the downtown has suffered from the firestorms of Covid and political riots (to simplify: Anarchists vs. Antifa). And the homeless are countless, if usually harmless. But locals keep up the good fight of rebirth, and it’s easy to find welcoming places and feel safe enough. There’s something unique and intriguing around every corner.

My ‘home’ is near the college, just outside of the city. Lake Oswego has a funky, call it kitschy, ‘old’ lakeside hotel, the Lakeshore Inn, with a decidedly 70s (my salad years!) flair, worry-erasing views, and a super-short walk to a world-class (and rather tony) village. Or just stroll waterside to Stickmen, the convivial brewpub and bbq next door.

If travel seems rougher as age and pandemic pains increase, arriving at this town serves me an instant tonic. And for those of us living car-centric lives to go most anywhere, carousing a well-endowed neighborhood on foot is itself a rare treat. There’s almost something Swiss-y about this place.

About those charming water-bikes. When I awoke with time-zone and stayed-out-too-late blurry eyes one sunny morning, this was my first sight as I flung open my shades. So I knew it would be a good day. Pastries at a French bakery…enthusiastically attending a victory for my little girl’s new soccer team and meeting many parents…some evermore precious time with my daughter…life is good.

Travel is good, too, despite the hassles and hazards. Now if I could only find me one of those cool water-bikes…

PS Watch for more Portland pics and tales in a follow-up post soon!

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