Fear not, dear reader, that I have been separated from the beloved Stall #2 at the place of my employment. I am happy to inform you that developing countries – such as California and Italy – have made great strides in both indoor plumbing and personal hygiene. The facilities away from home have been adequate, if not luxurious.
I captured a shining example of such advancements in porcelain technology at the Una Malpensa in Milan. The facilities, shown below, are equipped with more than your standard toilet. Here, and many places in fact, an additional tool is at one’s disposal.
I was perplexed at first, but after some reverse engineering and experimentation, I was able to operate the device. In addition to the attached control interface (which provided a wonderful spectrum of water temperature), the apparatus included a separate bottle of “Intimate Wash” for all of ones cleansing needs.
While I was more than satisfied with the results, I am excited to return to the more refined and technologically sound accommodations offered in Stall #2. Now onto the trips.
First was a venture to the West Coast. My employer required my presence at the Sea Otter Bike Festival in Monterey, so I thought it best to leave a few days prior to the planned event to acclimate to the strange habits of Western US culture. I was joined by Tough Cookie, and together we visited with friends who are currently engaged in long-term field studies in the area.
There were some pleasant discoveries made along the way – a bike ride to Marin and around San Francisco, a visit to Muir Woods, some climbing and hiking, and consumption of local fare and spirits. I was slowed in my exploration, however, by the onset of sever stomach cramps and a case of food poisoning. The bright side was the great amount of field data I was able to capture during 30+ visits to the toilet in 36 hours. Below are some photos of these adventures.
As with deer in the Mid-Atlantic, controlled hunting in the Bay Area could help keep the hipster population in check.
After a brief respite at home – long enough to wash some underwear and socks – it was off to the home of wine and hand gesticulation. Again, I was joined by Tough Cookie, who decided to fly out for a rock-star tour of Tuscany and its surroundings.
In three days we visited Cinque Terre, Lucca, Firenze, and Bologna. Guided by a GPS device, whose presence reminded me of friends lost, we navigated close to 1000 kilometers of autostradde, single lane switchbacks, and batshit-crazy drivers in under 72 hours. The scenery was incredible, and the history was hard to grasp.
Tough Cookie returned stateside to allow me to go to work in Riva del Garda - a beautiful place where weight-weenie German cyclists are slowly displacing the Italians so they can test their cross-drilled brake levers on hairy mountain descents. It appeared that the area offered a fair amount of wind-surfing and climbing as well.
I was only able to sneak out for two short investigative rides as most of my field work was predetermined. However, these small explorative missions will probably require a return visit to fully understand the region – I think it has a lot to offer. Some canceled meetings on our final day abroad resulted in some free time to explore both Verona and Venice. The former looked like a nice place to work, while the latter was almost too surreal to soak in. It felt like a strange cross between an amusement park and a Renaissance art museum. Below are some photos of this field work.
Dear reader, some advice for Italian travel: Drinking beer in Italy is like jerking off in a whorehouse. Stick to the wine.
In one enlightening moment, I learned that Verona bans almost all things native to San Francisco: hobos, public drinking, graffiti, hobos with dogs, and cross-dressing.
But don’t let down your guard – a skull made from the armor of knights killed by an unnamed canal-lurking beast.
I apologize, dear reader, for taking so much of your time on a long post. I can only hope it will make up for the recent lack of content, and you will forgive me the surge in blog activity.
The rest of the West Coast pictures.
The rest of the Italy pictures.