Dawn at Camp 3 Falls

This is the best time of a summer day in California’s Traverse Ranges. A trickle of sea breeze sneaks in from the West, and the desert to the east has not quite made its influence felt. At 64F at 6am, the temperature will rise one degree every twelve minutes for the next six hours, and the humidity will drop below 20% and stay there until long after sunset.

I am as yet the only one awake in camp. I sit in my chair and enjoy the cool and quiet, planning the day, grateful that kind colleagues and spotty coverage ensure that flow of emailed trivialities shan’t interrupt it.

A last coyote protests the dawn in a far hillside. A blue jay darts across my view. The yellow jackets hum in the water buckets. And the trees hum with that distinctive sound made only by a mountainside of conifers catching a rising breeze, sounding like the distant roar of a cheering crowd.

The camp stirs. Alarm clocks go off in six tents within a few moments of each other. Groans, yawns, and farts emerge from the tents long before their sources do, but the troop is waking. I pull on my Keens, straightening my field uniform, and pull my protesting bones out of my chair.

“Good morning, two thirty-four,” I say at a low baritone.

And the day in camp begins.

A Little New York in Singapore

Eighteen days into a three week swing through Asia, I was done with hotel breakfast buffets. I wanted a breakfast that hadn’t been under a warming light or in a steam tray. Fortunately, when I checked into the delightful Courtyard by Marriott Novena, the young lady at the bell desk on the ground floor told me I had to try this place. Given that it was about 20 steps from the front door, this was a no-brainer.

This was just what I needed, and more. The bagel served at 8 am was still warm from the oven and the schmears were cool and tasty. The menu told me that I was coming back, and tomorrow I’m buying for the office. Two Men Bagel House has redefined the quick breakfast in Singapore. As long as they are here, I am staying nearby.

You don’t see this every day

Sitting down for a cocktail at a rooftop bar at Boat Quay in Singapore on Saturday night with some colleagues, I was treated to a front row seat at the rehearsal for Singapore’s national day celebrations. The fun began with this flyover of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter dragging an¬†immense¬†flag, all escorted by a couple of Apache helicopters.

What I didn’t catch in the photo was the high speed maneuvers by the fighter jets, followed by a supersonic flyby, then the salute of a half-dozen howitzers.

And yes, this was just the rehearsal.

It was a gorgeous night, and this was the capper.

Happy Birthday, Lion City.

A Good Day (Thanks, Marriott)

It is never pleasant having to spend your birthday on the road, especially on a business trip. Not only do you forego doing anything fun, you are usually surrounded by strangers who just don’t know.

Clearly, though, someone at the Shanghai Marriott City Centre was paying attention. I got back to my room after a long day to find a chocolate cake, a bowl of fruit, and handwritten notes from the guest services manager and from the GM.

This was about all the celebration I got for #54, but it was more than enough. SOmeone remembered, and that made up for a lot.

Presentation Counts

The real art of eating at a buffet is plating your food in an appealing manner. I am biased: nothing kills my appetite faster than the sight of an overladen plate that looks like a trough into which the kitchen scraps have been dumped.

Okay, I’ll own it: this is all a bit OCD, but do us both a favor and try this next time you find yourself facing an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord:

  • Walk the whole buffet first, making your selections;
  • Then take a plate and resolve to put no more than three different foods onto it;
  • Set the food on your plate while pretending you are serving someone you want to impress.

I wager that when you get back to the table, you will eat more slowly, savor your meal, and feel better afterwards.