the worst new years eve ever.

i am not sure when i last had a day like this. maybe when my grandfather died. or when i heard for the 5th time i'd been rejected for a research grant. days like this suck. the kind you really wish you could could rewind and start over, or just erase from your memory.

7:30 this morning i left for dfw airport, to catch a flight to las vegas, where i was supposed to connect to orange county, ca and then on to honolulu. i was supposed to spend new years eve in waikiki with my brother sipping drinks on the beach while fireworks went off over the water.

instead i walked up to my gate in dfw to make sure my bags were ticketed all the way to orange county, ca. they weren't, and they had no record of my reservation past las vegas. after 10 minutes on the phone all was well.

well, no it was not. we took off nearly an hour late from dfw--the reason we were late? fuel spillage while filling the plane up--putting me in las vegas 30 minutes before the departure of my connections. that's plenty of time to collect bags, change terminals, and check in again, right? nope. almost, at least for the guy who runs through the airport. i arrived at the counter only to find out that i'd missed the connection by minutes. the real kicker, i would have made the flight even with the massive delay if american airlines had not lied to me and told me that my bags were checked all the way to the oc when they weren't. so now i had to work the american counter to get me a replacement flight to the oc so that i could connect with my next flight and still chill in waikiki. instead i ran in to two females of the doggish persuasion. they were totally unwilling to help and instead started treating me like i was irrational and belligerent. so they sent me away with a 'reservation' on an u.s. airways flight. when i arrived at the u.s. airways desk they looked for this reservation, only it was never to be found. the piece of paper they gave me was useless. so, to clean up the mess american airlines made, u.s. airways worked hard to get me to waikiki on the own dime. but they couldn't. but they did all the could, calling other airlines, working standby lists, and agreeing with me that american airlines sucks. as you can probably guess by now, i am not a fan. and i will not fly them ever again. not because we were late, because they didn't care that it was going to result in me staying new year's eve in an airport. they go on the list of boycotted airlines with ryan air in europe.

after everything was finally selttled and every possibility explored i was set up to depart las vegas at 7pm, arriving in the oc at 8pm, and then the next morning finally departing to hawaii at 9am. that's twelve hours in the oc airport for those counting. on top of this, when i tried to go down on the strip i was informed that the inexpensive shuttles were only running for another hour or so, leaving me with a hefty taxi fare to get back to the airport. not really worth it when you never wanted to spend time in vegas to start with.

so, here i sit. using the free wifi in las vegas airport--the one positive so far--and writing a long overdue blog. feel sorry for me people. it's been a frustrating day, but i guess in the end i'll be better for it, if i'll turn my face towards Him. in other news, you can expect a late best of 2007 post some time in the next 18 hours, since i have an abundance of time right now.



ponderosa pines in flagstaff

view of the valley below snow bowl ski resort

snow bowl ski resort from below

i recently returned to the states for a few weeks of holiday joy and mystief. my first stop, flagstaff, arizona. the home of my mother, and a sort of surrogate home for myself. it is so much like austin that i feel at home there.

my mother had been telling me for a few weeks that the weather was mild, and sunny. so, what happens the day i arrive? a series of snow storms that cover the town in snow with feet of new powder. it was quite nice actually. i live in a very cold place, but it's a very dry place. we might get a few inches every month or so, but never an accumulation. the only place the snow stays is up on the himalayan peaks, where it never disappears. for me, snow is the reward for cold weather. that is other than being able to wear 'cooler' clothes; you know, layering and sweaters and scarfs and beanies.

it was a winter wonderland for sure. like i have said before, there something so tranquil and beautiful about cold weather. and snow adds an extra element to it.


irish eyes

hmm, dublin. what a place. as you might expect, i loved it there. it's hard to articulate, but it has that feel, like austin, like flagstaff, like seattle. there are few places that seem to reach out their arms and welcome so unequivocally like these places. cities with personality, with panache, with heart and soul. though it is a city, and large to boot, it feels like a small town. people walk everywhere, there is nearly as much bike traffic as automobile, and the fact that pubs are on every corner. community seems real there.

but what struck me the most was the style of the place. there was a beauty beyond explanation. imagine the european grunge-chic toned down and given a distinctive rural aura and you've got it. i fit right in with my flat cap and beard too. i found myself daily struck by the beauty of irish women too--i seem to talk about beautiful women a lot, but i am a guy, so they are the ones that stick out to me. i would walk along cobblestone streets among what seemed like an unending stream of striking women, but altogether different than i had seen in europe before. for a few days i wondered what made them so attractive to me. then it hit me. i caught myself staring into their eyes each time. that was it, their eyes were deep and bewitching. they seemed deep and moody, emotional and full. so, i thought up the term 'irish eyes' to describe this type of beauty. it's the kind of beauty that goes well beyond the physical, but shows up clearly in the physical.

on a side note, i could get used to the pub life. not the drinking alone--though what they say is true, a guinness tastes better, actually great, in dublin, the daily gathering and unloading of the day before heading home. i could imagine a 'home' pub and daily meetings with friends. it would be nice, although it seems to produce a population dependent on beer. it's quite sad seeing such dependency.

the fiffey river in dublin.

a brooding storm casts a beautiful light over these trees.

loch bray and beyond.

view from above a waterfall in the mountains.

self portrait while on a nice walk in the woods.

nightfall in the sugarloaf mountains.


macau, hk, london and dublin

sorry guys, i'm on the road again. a few days in macau, then hong kong, and then i hopped a flight to london, where i had been until yesterday. now i am in the motherland, ireland. dublin to be exact. but i have a few snippets for you all, with some more stories to follow later too.

i met up with a friend in macau to explore the neat little island, and it's casinos and beaches. upon arriving we decided to check out a few budget options for a place to stay. the guidebook mentioned one that had character in spades, but lacked a few other qualities. it was also the cheapest. so we decided to check it out. it turned out to be in the now defunct red light district. up two flights of stairs we found the check-in, thought unmanned, and waited. for 10 minutes. i guess we wanted to stay there. finally, after faking bell rings and hollering for an attendant a little old woman came waddling up the stairs. we asked her to see a room, which is when we first noticed that the walls were not walls, but partitions. imagine your office, cubicles, just painted green. inside the room it looked like everything was 100 years old. it made me think of old havana, though i've never been there. we decided to take the room, for the experience. but we prayed there would be no 'work' going on. there wasn't and we both said it was one our best nights sleep in a while. that morning we awoke to the steady growth of voices pouring over the partitions. but it seemed natural, or pleasing. as the voices grew we rose and began out day. it was kind of like an alarm clock, just not so abrupt.

once in hong kong we decided to see the less intense side of the city; without flashing lights, 10 million people, and designer clothes everywhere. so we took the subway and 2 buses out to a little peninsula called sai kung. diving and beaches drew us. so, we jumped on a trail to hike out to the beach and to discover a hidden hostel on the way. we missed the hostel, but found a secluded beach. as we broke through the jungle to sand we could hear the roar of the waves for the first time. it was empty. all to ourselves and the whole afternoon to enjoy it. on our suits went and out into the freezing cold water we swam. brr it was cold. it was hard to imagine we were so close to hong kong. it felt too remote. later in the afternoon we set off to find a second beach, one with food and a place to stay. the food we found and the place to stay turned out to be the tent we brought along. as the sun faded so did it's warmth. neither of us had prepared to sleep in what was shaping up to be a cold night; during the day it was warm. our bad. about 8:30 our feeble little fire faded away and we hunkered down in the tent. we would not sleep more than an hour the entire night. it dropped to at least 40 degrees and all i was wearing was a a t-shirt and a long sleeve shirt. not enough. we tried everything we could imagine to stay warm, but nothing worked. we shivered, we shook, and we laid there wide eyed. the dawn could not come quick enough. hour after hour passed, but it felt like days. at first light we hurriedly pack up camp and began hiking out. as cold as we were we turned to admire the rising sun, how beautiful it was. and within 15 minutes both of us had broken a sweat and were pealing off whatever we had found to wrap around our bodies (for me a towel as scarf/cape and board shorts over jeans).

and dublin will come tomorrow...