Seattle to LA

After weeks of scouring the country for a Land Rover Discovery with the options and colors we wanted, and running into roadblock after roadblock, I got one in LA yesterday. Instead of shipping it back we decided to drive it back and make a trip out of it. It works out well because we don’t have childcare while Maddie is vacationing with her family in, of all places, Germany; we can’t get much work done while also keeping the kids active.

Our flight to LA was scheduled for 6am so we woke up at 4am, got the already-packed kids up and dressed and were in an Uber by 4:35am and on our way to the airport. Then we got a message from JetBlue that our flight was delayed 2 hours. That extra 2 hours would’ve been appreciated for sleeping!

While waiting at the gate, I was sitting next to a guy who was also flying to LA to pick up a car that he bought.

On board, we had free WiFi and I could watch the second half of the Steelers/Eagles preseason game via DirecTV:

We landed at Long Beach Airport (hot!) and took another Uber to Land Rover Encino. LA traffic is insane. We met our super nice sales guy and 18-year Land Rover sales veteran, Bill, who I had been phoning/emailing/texting with for a couple weeks. He showed us the car, let us drive it and handed me off to the finance guy (Shaquille O’Neal look-a-like) while Gay took the hungry kids to lunch next door, then Bill gave us a tour of the car and helped us get it connected to the iPhone apps and to the internet. Our car is on the internet and even has a phone number.

I didn’t have good experiences with most of the salespeople at Seattle Land Rover dealers but I liked Land Rover Encino (the largest Land Rover dealer in the west?). When we upgrade to the Range Rover I’ll come back here and do this trip again.

Continued construction

The work we mostly expected to have completed while we were in Germany is still not done. Eva’s bedroom was embiggened at the expense of her closet, some rooms were partially re-painted (one completely unnecessarily!), the back gates have been fixed/improved, a leak under the office windows that caused some stucco to become unattached has been fixed, a smart deadbolt was installed on the mud room door and the new roof is complete as of today. #oldhousesneedlove

So we’ve been living in a loud construction site for 2 weeks since getting home from vacation and Eva hasn’t had use of her bedroom.

More work to be finished: Eva’s closet still needs new flooring, some exterior trim work needs to be installed, some of the stucco needs to be repaired, the backyard pavers need to be sealed, some gutters need repair and some screens need to be rebuilt. Supposedly, there’s just one more week but they said that 2 weeks ago. Plus, they have to come back for another week to paint the room again they shouldn’t have painted in the first place because they made it worse!

We really liked this contractor when they did the renovation but this set of small projects were not managed as well.

2018 Tour de France

This is the first time in 25 years that I didn’t watch the entirety of the Tour de France, thanks to our vacation. But I caught every stage since getting home.

It was a good one! The course was interesting, most of the big sprinters were eliminated in a single stage in the mountains, Peter Sagan won the green jersey yet again, and Chris Froome didn’t win. He finished 3rd, his teammate Geraint Thomas won and is the first from Wales and the first UK-born rider to win. I think this is only the second time I’ve seen a teammate usurp the team leader.

Looking forward to next year!

Frankfurt

We took the train from Cologne to Frankfurt for our last day of the trip. We didn’t get to do much in Frankfurt other than have lunch, do some shopping and get ready to fly out early the next morning.

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Breakfast before leaving to the airport:

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Trip observations & notes:

  • There are generally at most four beer choices in Germany: light (as in color, not in calories), dark, wheat and Pilsner. You almost always have two of those, usually three and rarely all four. Brands don’t matter at all, you order “Helles” (light) or “dunkel” (dark), “Weiss” (white for wheat) or “Pilsner”. There is never two beers with the same style from two different breweries. That is very unlike the US beer market. The US has come a long long way in beer in my lifetime.
  • There is no nuanced technique to beer-pouring — beers are poured roughly down the middle of the glass to release much of the carbonation and create a huge head of foam, often with a top-off pour. Lagers are traditionally carbonated at higher levels than ales but lagers in Germany are not “spritely” like they are in the US — they are almost creamy because they were poured so roughly. At Optimism, we teach the servers to pour beer in one motion down the side of the glass and time it to deliver the “perfect” amount of foam on top for each style. I think I’d like to get even more over-sized mugs for our lagers and pour them German-style with 2 inches of foam on top!
  • “Craft beer” in Germany is disappointing – muddy flavors, poor fermentation and cloudy. I just stopped looking for and ordering them. I don’t understand why they can’t make quality beers given the culture is so beer-centric and their big breweries make very high quality beers. My guess is that anyone who leaves the big breweries to start small breweries never learned the science of brewing, they simply learned the rote practice and it doesn’t translate to anything other than making Pale lagers.
  • Germany and the Czech Republic are averse to credit cards. Cash-only places are all too common. I expected Germany to be far more modern. Do Germans really carry $300 around in cash all the time?! Seems like easy prey for muggings.
  • People don’t care about World Cup soccer as much as I’m led to believe in the US. Lots of bars and restaurants have the games on TV but most people were disinterested. Maybe because Germany fell out of it in Round 1.
  • People smoke too much in Germany and Czech Republic — they rank 32nd and 7th, respectively, on the worldwide smoking list, whereas the US ranks 68th. And they seem to chain smoke, smoking 2-3 cigarettes in an hour of sitting. Coming from Seattle, where it’s unusual to see anyone smoking (mostly hipsters), it’s surprising.
  • Google Maps makes everything so easy and is surprisingly accurate with European travel. But it was wrong a few times with train schedules and bus stops.
  • Apple Maps and the Watch integration was nice for walking. I wish Google Maps didn’t drop their Apple Watch app.
  • The famously no-speed-limit Autobahn has a lot of speed limits. 100 km/h (62mph) and 120 km/h (75mph) seem to be the norm with some short stretches of no limit. Max speed I got to was 172km/h (106mph) and I was going faster than other cars. I don’t think the Autobahn is any faster than US highways but the drivers seem to stay in their lanes more than in the US.
  • It’s harder to watch the Tour de France while in Europe than in the US where the stages can be watched (or recorded) live but all I can find on TV in Germany and France are short broadcasts of the end or just summaries and are on late at night, as in 11pm or later.