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Photos Route 66 Videos

Route 66 Day 3: Chandler to Amarillo

[See giant—but hopefully not obnoxious!—gallery.]

The crazy thing about trying to recount our trip, I’ve come to realize, is that on each day we packed so much in—as many adventures as could usually fill a whole series of blog posts and galleries—that it’s all a bit overwhelming to gather, recount, and relive. But what the heck, let’s give it a shot. 😌

To start us out, Henry writes,

We stayed the night in Chandler, OK, in the Lincoln Motel, which was right on Route 66. In the morning we visited the “Route 66 Interpretive Center.” We also visited an old Phillips 66 gas station. 

After fueling up at a fun 50’s-themed diner & scoring a few Legos at the thrift store in Chandler, we dropped the top for our first real time cruising down Route 66. Check it out!

We stopped off at a neat motorcycle museum in Seaba Station, followed by the famous Round Barn in Arcadia:

Here, join us for an epic spin around the barn! Tap the video below to play:

From there, Hen writes, “We went to Oklahoma City and went to the awesome train museum (with a Frisco F-unit).”

Of course no trip to Oklahoma would be complete without “cooling off” at Braum’s Ice Cream, which Hen & I cheerfully did following our museum visit. Afterwards, Hen writes,

On the way to Amarillo we visited Slug Bug Ranch, which had a handful of VW Beetles dug into the ground next to some abandoned (spray-paint-covered) gas & motel buildings.

We stayed at the Big Texan hotel/restaurant, and we slept in an awesome cowboy/wild-west-themed room. 

We like to think that the Miata met its big, longhorn-sporting brother. 🥰

And with that, we fell asleep, as exhausted as you must be reading this & seeing all the photos!

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Photos Route 66

Route 66 Day 2: From KC to Swineys

[See accompanying gallery]

We awoke early in Kansas City to ensure that we could score ourselves a helping of Maria’s infamously delicious Bready Magic, after which she accompanied us to KC’s historic & beautifully restored Union Station.

Much to everyone’s delight, the station is packed not just with historical artifacts, but with enormous model train displays—some of them Lego!

When we’d finally gotten our fill (okay, most like a taste—but time was a factor), we headed to an early lunch. As you’d imagine, Henry enjoyed the one-of-a-kind burger-delivery system at Fritz’s Kansas City! Check it out:

After hugging it out with Maria, we hit the road for Tulsa, eager to arrive in time to check out Buck Atom’s—a “Cosmic Curio” shop right on Route 66 run by Margot’s high school classmate. Loaded with ironic midcentury ephemera & guarded by the enormous Buck, it did not disappoint:

Here’s a draggable 360º view:

Having scored a couple of “Oklahoma Route 66 Passports,” gotten them stamped, and loaded up on fun gifts, we rolled back up 66 for a real treat—getting to see our dear friends the Swiney’s for the first time in 20+ years!

It was amazing to catch up with Mr. & Mrs. Swiney, Quin, Mick, and Mick’s wife Veronika (with whom I swapped tales of being pleasantly traumatized on our first meetings with the full Swiney brood 😛). Afterwards Mrs. S. pronounced Hen “hilarious.”

Our two hours together felt like 20 minutes, but we had to press on in order to maintain our pace. Thus we closed out the day an hour’s drive later in Chandler, OK—setting the stage of the next morning’s exploration.

Check out our full gallery of photos & videos from the day.

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Photos Route 66

Route 66 Day 1: From Big G to KC

“The journey of 2,000 miles begins with a single tiny roadster,” I think the old saying goes. 😌 Whatever the case, after getting Miata fully spiffed & packed, Henry and I set out on our epic journey on Wednesday, March 24.

Besides being an excellent wingman, Hen’s also a great documenter of our travels, both via camera & the written word. You can check out the gallery of shots we took together, and as for narrative, I’ll pass the mic to Hen, as captured in the little leather-bound notebook we picked up at our first stop.

“We drove to Le Claire, Iowa, and visited the American Pickers store. We bought some typeform and stickers.

I (Henry) was observing silos on the way to Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop. I had an amazing DQ milkshake, with ice cream, brownies, and Oreos, too! Iowa 80 had the absolute coolest truck museum ever!

I saw some interesting truckloads there, such as a trailer carrying four teardrop trailers, two trucks with half-assembled combines, trucks carrying parts of silos, and… TWO HUGE TRUCKS CARRYING WIND TURBINE BLADES! We drove across four states in seven hours.

Also, we ate Kansas City BBQ at Joe’s Gas Station with Maria.

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Photos Route 66

Big G(Man) 2021

Henry & I kicked off our epic road trip by flying to Chicago, then meeting my folks in Rockford. (The Clock Tower Inn is long gone, but the O’Hare shuttle lives forever. 😌) Hen of course made a beeline to set up Uncle Ted’s old Farm Country, Lionel train, and Matchbox collections, and the two of us enjoyed browsing antique stores and knocking back some Canova’s Classic pizza as well as Grandma Nack’s famous pork chops & rice.

A special highlight was getting to see Uncle Ted & his kids. I accompanied him on the tail end of his morning milk run, getting to help wash down the truck before swinging by Weber’s Meats and scoring some cheese curds. Afterwards he picked up Jenna, Austin, and Morgan so that they join us for some epic train times plus hide-and-seek with Henry. “The cousins are so great,” he says. “They’re a disappearing breed of kid that’s not all about video games!”

Check out our gallery from the days’ adventures.

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Videos

Getting Our Kicks On Route 66

Hello, California—we made it!! 🚗💨

After driving 2,000+ miles down Route 66 and beyond in six days—the last of which also included getting onboarded at Adobe!—I’ve only just begun to breathe & go through the titanic number of photos and videos that Henry & I captured. I’ll share more good stuff soon, but in the meantime you might get a kick (heh) out of this little vid, captured as we cruised lengths of the old road in Oklahoma & California:

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Birthdays Milestones Photos

Lucky 13: Finn is a teen!

Amidst all the excitement of changing jobs, flying to Illinois, and more, I’ve been remiss in marking Finn’s thirteenth birthday. Happily we weren’t belated in celebrating the day, as you can see in our photo gallery from his big day.

Highlights included getting a pair of cute dog bookends that have been in Grandpa Liggett’s family for generations; scoring great new mystery stories (and Sherlock Holmes socks!); getting my old Cranium game from Galena; reeling in the big Lego police station that Henry had requested for his own birthday (but graciously deferred to Finn to get); and dining on a choco-tastic cake from Flower Flour—which was about the size & density of a manhole cover!

Happy B-Day, Finnster. We love you so much, and we can’t wait to see what adventures await.

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Photos Videos

All aboard the WGRR!

Oh man, I cannot believe our luck!

A few weeks ago, a new pedestrian bridge opened up on the trail that occupies the old path of the railroad that once ran through our neighborhood. I noticed that off to one side, a little garden railway was visible. I took a few long-distance pics for Henry, figuring that that’s about as close as we’d get.

This Tuesday, however, both boys joined me on a walk with Seamus, and Henry—visiting this spot for the first time—decided to get a closer look. As luck would have it, a nice lady named Cathy was out walking her dog—and it turned out to be her house!

Minutes later we found ourselves in the back yard, checking out & even riding the train with Severn, a retired machinist who’s been building up the railroad. Even more amazingly, they have a full-sized caboose in the back yard! 🤯

The dogs played happily while we soaked it all in, swapping all kinds of nerdy railroad facts & planning our return visit this Sunday—when we hope to help with the construction of a miniature water tower! It’s like we’ve all died & gone to Henry Heaven. 🥰

Check out our photo gallery plus this quick video:

To be continued! 🚂

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Photos

Valley of the Legos

Last week’s journey out to Death Valley marks the first time I’ve headed that way without the family or friends. The endless desert drives were made less lonely, however, as I’d reach into my pocket to feel the reassuring jangle of the “Nanonaxx”—little Lego copies of the four of us + Seamy.

As you can see in this gallery, I had fun posing them everywhere from sand dunes to a salty seabed to the top of a little peak. Check it out!

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Photos

Robin Hood & His Merry Hen

Having come into a little Christmas cash, Henry was delighted to find & acquire some Lego “Forestmen” (a Robin Hood-style theme he’d never had). Neighbor kid Nathan shares his interest in Lego photography, so last weekend we trucked over to the Santa Cruz mountains for some hiking & shooting—and Lego versions of Finn, Hen, and Seamy came along for the ride! Here’s our gallery from the day.

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Photos

Swashbuckling into 2021!

When some people watch scary movies, they cover their eyes & peer through their fingers. I’m a little like that with Notre Dame playoff games, so when Henry asked to head to the beach while the Irish battled Alabama, I didn’t push back.

Thus we spent New Year’s Day on the sand in Aptos, south of Santa Cruz. I was delighted that Hen wanted to keep advancing his Lego photography skills & brought along a handful of swarthy buccaneers to pose in the surf. Check out a little gallery of the getaway.

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Christmas Photos

Colosseum!

Our story begins when Henry showed us a video of the Lego designer and the architect who created the most colossal Lego set ever, the Roman Colosseum – over 9,000 pieces! Upon seeing the video, I completely flipped out – I had no idea Lego had created a Colosseum set, and I knew right then that’s what I hoped to get for Christmas 2020.

My loyal and big-hearted boy Henry immediately went to work on making some Christmas magic with John, and they secretly set out to find the set (limited edition!) and give it to me.

Within a few days there was an extremely large wrapped box underneath the tree, and Henry worked hard to cover his tracks when I started playing Twenty Questions. He spooled out an elaborate story about a new Japanese store at the mall called “Clown Town,” telling me that he and John had obtained an amazing hat made of shards of glass, and a huge clown wig. I kept my fingers crossed that it was really the Lego set, and not a giant pair of clown shoes!

You can imagine my glee when I opened the set on Christmas day and it really was what I had hoped. I sent out an SOS to borrow a neighbor’s card table so we had a place to build, and soon enough, Henry and I were set up in the master bedroom with task lighting, two chairs, and dozens of bags full of thousands of Lego bricks. Hen was my right-hand man all the way – after I completed the base, we took turns building the Colosseum itself – which is ingeniously designed into vertical slices that snap together with ball and socket joints.

This set really activated all my nerd buttons: archaeology, Roman history, architecture, and Lego! It really is the best set they’ve ever made, and we had a ball putting it together. You can get a sense of the intricate details and overall design in the photo gallery, which also features Henry’s minifig Egyptian archaeological explorers checking out the ruins. (They are from a different set but had to come check out the scene!) We worked for 5 days in a row, reading up on the Colosseum’s history, and the Roman Empire in general, while also enjoying dumb TV game shows in the background, and just chitchatting the afternoons away. Now that it is finished, Hen and I have had a few “appreciation sesh’s” (as he puts it) just to marvel at our accomplishment and the neat details of the set. It is 2 feet in diameter and warranted its own display table (seriously, we had nowhere to put it that was dog-safe or big enough!). Best. Christmas gift. Ever!

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Christmas Photos

Merry Christmas 2020

Christmas this year was different, but we tried to bring as much Santa Claus magic as possible to the boys. As they’ve gotten older, the gift requests have become very short and very specific, and happily we were able to deliver on the specifics, as well as throwing in some excellent surprises.

Even Seamus got in on the action, helping to tear open the wrapping paper (a gift in itself!), and reaping a few gifts of his own.

Each human got a much-coveted Lego set – Star Wars & Mandalorian sets for John and Finn, a vintage pirate set for Henry, and the quite literally colossal Roman Coliseum set for Classical history-nerd mom. Santa also brought fun novelty socks, books, games, handmade stuffed animals, candy, and some incredibly soft and fuzzy new jackets for the boys. Seamus got a new leash and toy, new portable food and water bowls and a doggy water bottle for hikes.

The best surprise gifts came in the form of Seamus portraits. Grandpa Liggett had a friend do a beautiful pencil portrait of our boy, and I commissioned a custom illustration of Seamus in a Venetian Doge costume (dog, doge…get it?). Finn absolutely flipped out upon opening them – and now he has both portraits hanging above his bed where he can admire them anytime he likes.

Here is our Christmas Day gallery, where you can see the shock and awe Santa was able to deliver this year. We surely missed sharing it in person with family, and hope that 2021 permits us to travel and celebrate together!

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Christmas Videos

Zipping the Lights Fantastic

Continuing our efforts to bring the party to the people, we keep driving the blinged-out Westy around San Jose & points beyond. Last night was no exception as we headed over to Los Gatos to take in their Fantasy of Lights—one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Like last week & last year, my co-pilot Hen hung himself out the window to get the best look, but this time he was content to put down his camera & just enjoy the moments.

Check out our rather trippy video from the event:

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Christmas Photos Videos

Little Saint Nick

2020 is, of course, all about adaptation & flexibility, so San Jose has converted its traditional Christmas in the Park into a driving tour for this year. The five of us (Seamus included!) piled into the car on Friday evening, and after a long wait in line we were rewarded with a gorgeous & festive spectacle. Braving the (relative) cold, Henry hung out the window & captured a nice gallery of images while I made this fun little time-lapse video. Check it out!

We hope to take our traditional lights tour in Los Gatos again soon as well. Just for fun, here’s last year’s gallery from that excursion plus my New Year’s Train ride with Hen.

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Photos Westy

Gold Rush + Goldendoodle

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, we shook off our food coma & drove north to the Sierras, setting up camp in the funky Sierra Circles Sculpture Garden.

As you can see in our photo gallery, highlights include:

  • Chatting with the local artists about their work, including their clay-making business (involving a giant press we got to see)
  • Exploring numerous old cars rusting, printing presses, steam shovels, and more around the site
  • Seeing a giant custom pirate-truck that’s frequented Burning Man
  • Trekking to the nearby lake where we surveyed old logging equipment & dodged projectiles from Frisbee golfers
  • Doing dueling Schwarzenegger impressions in the down of Arnold
  • Hen staging numerous medieval Lego battles & practicing his photography skills wherever we went
  • Visiting the Jamestown railroad (see previous)

Check out the pics.

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Christmas Photos

Christmas Lights On The Move

Finn is very sentimental about the holidays. He loves our annual rituals, which we add to each year. The pandemic has certainly done its part to hamper our normal activities like going to the Nutcracker, Christmas tree lightings and parties, and the like, and to prevent us from traveling to see our families.

To that end, we are trying to create some safe, local joy that will keep our Christmas spirits up. I saw a photo recently of an old VW microbus that was decorated with Christmas lights, and I thought it would be fun to do the same with the Westy, and drive around spreading some Christmas cheer. I asked Mr. Christmas, Finn, what he thought, and he loved the idea. Last weekend, we headed out to Ace Hardware and picked up some colorful lights, and some small suction cups with hooks that we could safely stick to the van. We already have a big rechargeable battery in the Westy that we can plug the lights into.

Needless to say, we got the lights strung, plugged in, and did our first Christmas Lights Cruise around the neighborhood on Sunday night. A few observant passersby noticed our moving light show and seemed charmed. Most of all, though, Finn and Henry both love it, and they’re all smiles when we light up Westy and hit the streets, playing Christmas music on the radio. Seamus seems to enjoy it as well, cuddled up on his boy’s lap, watching the world go by. We plan to cruise around in our portable light show as often as possible over the next few weeks. Maybe we’ll even hand out candy canes!

Here’s a little photo gallery of the proceedings.


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Photos

Gold Country Roundhouse

Thanks to the friendly & talkative artists at the campground where we stayed following Thanksgiving, we learned about Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, CA. It’s home of various historic steam engines that have been featured in Back To The Future, Petticoat Junction, and numerous other productions, as well as one of the country’s last working roundhouses.

Needless to say this was 100% up Henry’s alley, and even Finn was a good sport about visiting—as was Seamus, of course. The friendly staff were more than happy to take us on a short cruise via their old “speeder” (of the sort we explored in Leadville when the boys were just 2 & 3; see previous).

Here’s a little gallery of the outing.


And just for fun, here’s a peek at the boys on those motorcars back in 2011:

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Birthdays Milestones Photos

Seamy’s Second

Our big, bounding, curly boy has turned two!

“The days are long but the years are short,” and that applies to four-legged kids just as much as the two-legged kind. We can’t believe this lovable man has been on this planet for two years, and in our home for nearly that long. We couldn’t ask for a better quarantine buddy.

To celebrate we got him a smart-looking kerchief & party hat, plus a new chew toy he immediately put into play. Check out a little gallery of the good times.


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Halloween Photos

Halloween 2020

Finn’s a huge fan of late-year holidays, so while all of us were bummed that trick-or-treating had to be called off due to the pandemic, he was especially sad. Happily, though, we found ways to rally and keep things “festive,” as he likes to say: Mom-O & the guys carved pumpkins, and then all five of us (including Seamus!) donned costumes before heading to a socially distant party at our friends Matthias & Samantha’s little farm.

Check out our not-so-spooky gallery. 🎃


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Photos

Treasures on the Beach

From fires to droughts to quakes, the California environment can be a handful—but boy is it beautiful. On a couple of recent weekends we’ve been able to get away to the beach—first in Santa Cruz, and then in Half Moon Bay.

In SC Hen & I trekked around the old railroad tracks and bridge, and up north Hen buried Finn in sand while Seamy met some “big giant dogs” (horses). One of my old Lego knights made an appearance on the dunes so that Hen could get artsy serving his Instagram feed. 😌 Later we swung by one of Half Moon Bay’s famous pumpkin patches for some gourds n’ tacos while Seamus amused himself making friends with a piglet at the petting zoo.

Check out this gallery from our days in the sun.