Trip Over View

As you may have noticed I did not succeed in blogging every day of our epic van trip out to explore the Northwest of the United States of America. These trips are tough. 2 weeks on the road driving almost every day. Waking up at 6 am to either get miles in early or beat the crowds to the trailheads so we can get a parking spot. I certainly don’t want to complain about the number of people that are choosing to enjoy the countries national parks as I think it’s an important part of appreciating our country.

We visited a total of 5! yes 5 national parks and 1 National Memorial on this trip. I think it may be best to blog about each one of them separately.

We saw in this order:

  • Theador Rosevelt NP in North Dakota
  • Glacier NP in Montana
  • Yellowstone NP in  Wyoming
  • Grand Tetons NP in Wyoming
  • Mount Rushmore NM South Dakota
  • Badlands NP in Soth Dakota

If that sounds like too much, well you would be right, it nearly was. Here’s the breakdown!

  • 12 States
  • 1 Vanagon
  • 16 days
  • 5,739.9 Miles
  • 388.052 Gallons of Gas

Chicago! 8/28/2018

I went to Chicago for Big John Diehl’s 40th birthday. It was a great opportunity to see John, Kristen and my parents. It was only a day and a half but it seems like we did a lot. The original intent was to go see a Cubs game. Turns out they were going to be playing the Mets so it seemed like a fun idea. John went to see the games on Sunday, and Monday as well. I joined for Tuesday. It was great. There is nothing better than Wrigley Field on a summer evening. The game stayed close all night. It was 1 to 1 in the 10th inning and then the rain started. The game got called till the next morning. The Cubs went on to win the next day. We had a happy birthday for John on the scoreboard which was really exciting.

Earlier in the day we went to the Fields Museum. What a huge place. It’s a natural history museum and they have everything. Including the two lions from the movie Ghost in the Darkness. Check out the link.

So, when I was a kid I remember these molding machines from the 60s that you would see at zoo’s or museums like this. I always think about them because it’s such a cool was to show how a mold works. They had one at Fields and it was super fun to do that again. Keep your eyes out for them, especially in the Chicago area! Mold-O-Rama.


Probably the best part of being in Thailand is that you’re not in China. Leaving Shanghai found me in the back seat of the fastest driving cab driver I’ve every experienced. I was 99% I was 100% going to die. I can report that in-fact I did not die and made it to Bangkok.

Bangkok is stupid hot, a little less dirty, and way less polluted.
I had the weekend in Bangkok to look around. You’ll see below I did the Grand Palace Temple, The Gold Mount (sucks), and the Weekend Market. The boat ride is how I got to the Grand Palace. I probably should have tried to do more but the locals kept lying to me telling me attractions were closed, in an effort to try to get me to go to some outlet market in which they would get a kick back for sending me. Not Cool!! So I failed to see the Reclining Buda which is supposed to be amazing!!!

On Sunday I went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I took the local transit which is incredible and very east to navigate even for a stupid American like myself. It’s half flee market half new goods market, and literally the largest shopping place I’ve ever been. I was really impressed how much relevant and on american trend so much of the stuff was. A lot of really cool stuff, plus a couple of really hard looking market cats.

The rest of my time here will be work in dark room so I’m afraid that’s all the fun I get. Which for a work trip with me is probably a record I have no hope of breaking.

Hello Kitty is a person! (Double Click to Play)

I guess in an effort to prove the internet isn’t full of total BS. I went to the place I posted the picture of the other day and took one to prove it validity. The area I was in to take the picture is called the Bund. It’s right on the water and has the famous skyline view. Although this is just one of the skylines.
Shanghai is 7X larger than NYC and you can see it. Holy crap this is a big city. It makes NYC look like a quaint hamlet. You can see in the picture I took from my hotel window Shanghai during the day… This is not a rainy overcast day. This is a beautiful sunny day in Shanghai. The cloud cover you see is smog and pollution. Well like I said I won’t have much more time to take pictures so this may be it for China…. Next stop Bangkok..

This is the hotel I stayed at in Shanghai (Double Click to Play)

Ok so right now I’m sitting in the Alitalia business class lounge at JFK. I’m waiting for my China Eastern Air flight to board. Several things are not boding well for this trip right now.

1. As you might have guessed if you have ever spent any time on Alitalia this lounge is a dump… literally everything is covered in a thin layer of gross. Other than the free Budweiser it’s not much better than the terminal.

2. I got here pretty early and have had a bit of time to research China Eastern Air. It looks as if their business class is slightly better than JetBlue’s economy seating. I realize no one reading this that knows me is very concerned about this. I sleep everywhere and anywhere no problem…. Still I had business class dreams and they are quickly being dashed..BTW this is a 15 hour flight straight through so nice seating would be a pretty big plus.

Anyway I’m on my way to Shanghai China for the rest of the week. Then Friday I head to Bangkok Thailand. I’m there Friday night I believe till next Wednesday the 3rd. Then I head home.
So, I have the weekend in Bangkok so I will try to get out with my camera and make the best of all of this… Don’t expect many pictures as this is a work trip….. work=noFun #thatsWhyItsWork

I’ve posted a picture of what the internet tells me Shanghai looks like.

This weekend I witnessed a new chapter being written in modern history. A very very good friend to dport7 Brian Lauvray participated in the legendary Chip Inn chili cook off. You may ask, “Paul is this cook off sooooo prestigious it’s by invitation only?”. Possibly I didn’t get the details on that. That’s not what’s important in this story.
What’s important in this story is that a hometown boy built his way up the chili mount and conquered it with the positive intensity of a jungle cat. It’s the story of a unlikely chili loving underdog battling his was through adversity (possibly with a musical interlude) to make good on a dream. It’s a story of a guy that lives down the street from a local bar that’s having a chili cook off and decided to participate. And participate he did! All the way to second place. But I’ll tell you right now he came in first place in the hearts and minds of a little bar called the Chip Inn!
As you may be able to guess we had a pretty good time. Seriously congrats to Brian on bring home second place at his first chili cook off. And a great big thanks for letting me hang out and dog and double cat sit on the coldest weekend (of my lifetime) in Chicago.
Check out the pic below from my quick trip.


Last weekend Kate and I went to Aruba for my friends Mark and Lindsay’s wedding. Aruba is the place you go to lay on the beach drink I the best beach beer in the world Amstel Bright and occasionally soak in the bright blue ocean. It was an amazingly relaxing couple of days. Most of these pictures were on Instagram so you might have seen them already.
I couldn’t help but post the video of Mark dancing to “Call Me Maybe” as it seemed unlikely.

Hello everyone! I’m tapping this post out on the drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Denver, Colorado. It’s about a 6 hour drive, certainly nothing to sneeze at.
We spent the last few days in Santa Fe with Kate’s parents and their friends Fleur and David. It was a birthday weekend trip for Kate.

We took a day trip to see where Georgia O’keeffe had her home and studio. We also visited her second home about 20 minutes away at the Ghost Ranch. That’s where all the pictures of the NM landscape are from.

The next day was the Santa Fe Indian Art Festival. It was a lot of shopping. A lot of turquoise jewelry. And a lot of people. Kate and I got a rug which was nice.

Check out the pictures below, and a special thanks to Kate’s parents for the trip.

I always look like a turd when I pose

Check out the pana of Ghost Ranch

Well I hope everyone had a good 4th. Kate and I certainly did. For the first time ever after countless invites we went to visit Jon Schulman down in our Nation’s Capitol Washington DC. To our delight we had a very good time on this visit. Jon and his girlfriend Katie NoNo gave us several tours of the city. They were kind enough to include us in their 4th of July festivities with fireworks watching on the roof. As well as take us for a sail on Jon’s sail bout. Of course Kate and I got sea sick almost immediately because we are turds that way. They even took us for a walk around The White House after dinner on Friday. All in all a lovely time. Enjoy the pictures below!

Captain Jon get’n really serious