Greetings From

Hello from Spain

There are experiences you have that you taste just once; it can never be found or experienced in the same way again, which is why those moments are so special.

There are other experiences that are forced. Places that have been well developed, well maintained, with sights that can always be replicated or shared by many people.

There are many moments on this trip that are both types of experiences. You get the once in a lifetime experiences in the most unexpected places – CaixaForum in Barcelona, the beach in Cartagena – while the other “forced” experiences are the ones you read about in guidebooks – the herds of people at Sagrada Familia, the herds of people gawking at Park Guell, people searching for beaches like gold nuggets in Cabo de Gata.

The key to enjoying a vacation is letting the experiences come to you. Being aware of the surroundings, and enjoying them for what they are.

Hello From Duluth, Minnesota

From Lisbon, Portugal to Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth has one street, which my colleague and I decided to walk on a Saturday night in order to find food.  The first people we encountered were two gentlemen with Insane Clown Posse face paint who tried to bum a cigarette from us.  Odd, but not as disturbing as seeing the senior citizen couple making out in the front seat of their sedan.

Other odd things we witnessed within 20 minutes of being in Duluth: two stretch Lincoln Navigator limos (a completely unnecessary luxury), lots of standard Duluthians, and a woman push her friend to the ground after an incensed one sided screaming match.  It was sad.

Anyways, there’s better places in the world than Duluth…but no better place in the world to enjoy a smoked salmon sandwich than Northern Waters Smokehaus.  My goodness. We were in Duluth three days and the place never stopped smokin’.

We ate at Northern Waters the first day, and then the next day, and then the day after that.

Then, we were smart enough to get away from all the shenanigans going on in Duluth. I’m not sure I’ll ever be back, but the smoked salmon will forever live on in memory.

Hello From Portimao, Portugal

Greetings from Portimao, where the only thing separating the hotel from the ocean is the beach itself.

Portimao, and the Alagarve area in which the town is located, is entirely made up of tourists. This is quite different than how we’ve spent the previous two days and nights, where we mingled, haggled with, and bonded with local Portugesians.

I joke that everything in Europe is old – especially the tourists. Portimao is no exception. Portimao, and the Algarve…where couples and old people go to take a vacation within a vacation.

Tomorrow we will do much off what we did today. The activities of the day consisted of laying on the beach while enjoying a fine Sagres beer and eating a delicious Prosciutto sandwich while reading my 400 page book about Portugese exploration. Life is good.

If you were eagerly anticipating stories about the Chapel of Bones, there is lots to tell. At first, I was amazed at the sight of thousands of skulls, fibulas, and vertebrae. I considered it one of the finest exhibits I have ever seen. And then, in reflection on the 3 hour roadtrip down south, I came to the conclusion that the three guys who built it were a bunch of downers.

They built the chapel to remind the wealthy that they couldn’t take their material possessions into the afterlife. Death is inevitable. Blah blah blah. I think these three guys were just bringing everyone down when they constructed that chapel. Their work still freaks people out to this day. Upon exiting the chapel, there were a row of aforementioned elderly tourists visibly shaken by what they had seen. You could only look at them and read their apparent thought: “Man, my clock is ticking!”


Hello from Coimbra

Hello from the Harvard of the US, the Oxford of England…it’s Coimbra, the college town of Portugal that houses the 2nd oldest university in the world! (Bologna in Italy is the oldest, built in 1249)

I’m trying to live more Portugese, which means eat dinner at 9pm, go out at 11:30pm, and say words that sound like “Huckslicklavegesh.”

Today we went to the “vin-yards” in the Douro Valley. Amazing scenery driving out there. You have the Douro River running throughout vineyards that rise to the top of mountains. These vineyards are different from those in Sonoma County because they grow different grapes. These vines are grown in ten foot steep increments, so when you stand amongst a row of vines, you see ten feet of rock above you before you see the next row of vines. These vines stack high towards the heavens, and the grapes are ripe for a pickin’. My mom and I plucked a grape off the vine and ate it as we toured the Quinta de Palasca. We also dipped our feet in the Douro River when we were all done because we had a case of the “Dirty Douro Feet.” Fun times.

Tomorrow we are off to a town named Evora, which is famous for being another college town and having a chapel constructed entirely from human skeletons. Should be awesome, and then it’s on to the south of Portugal to get some beach time in.

Greetings from Homer, Alaska

Greetings from Homer, Alaska, where the seagulls bully the bald eagles and 50 pound halibut fish are the norm. A drinking town with a fishing habit, Homer is the embodiment of Alaska. The state of Alaska, with the exception of the city of Anchorage, offers the rare attraction of witnessing nature untamed.

Travel thirty minutes outside of Anchorage and you see mountains that look like those sold on water bottles. Charter a boat and you may catch a fish larger than Shaq (I reeled in five halibuts, keeping the 32 and 80 pounders). Pull to the side of the road to take a leak in the woods and fear that a grizzly bear will pop out and tear your face off. Alaska is the one place I’ve been thus far that humans have not conquered.

And did I mention that in four days of being in the state, we did not experience what the lower 48 calls ‘nighttime?’

We arrived on summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The sun sets at approximately 11:38pm and rises at 3:21am in Anchorage. When I went to sleep in Homer, the sun peered through the blinds. Watching the World Cup at Eddie’s Sports Bar at 11pm felt like a Saturday afternoon. What an odd place.

Other Alaskan tidbits: the fish is overpriced despite the abundant supply Alaskans enjoy. The bill you pay at a restaurant compared to the food that you consume makes you wonder if locals are ripping off tourists year round.

There apparently is only one restaurant that any Alaskan will recommend no matter how far away they are to the restaurant itself. The name I do not recall, despite having heard it recommended a total of seven times.

Alaska allows you to disconnect from the entire world if you’d like. My example is that my friend and I, due to the fishing adventure we booked starting at 6:30am, prevented us from watching the deciding World Cup soccer match between our beloved Americans versus the Algerians. We made it a mission to avoid all human contact that day in order to watch the replay of the game that evening in our hotel room.

Avoiding the result of the game was not a problem on the boat. Captain Chuck and his grandson John only cared about one thing: catchin’ the big one. Our four and half drive back home was made in complete silence as we feared the radio would deliver news that the Americans did or did not advance. Our hotel was of no help to get the game, so we ended up at Eddie’s Sports Bar and isolated ourselves in a corner with Alaskan brewed beers.

On the television screen we watched England beat Slovenia. In the final seconds, the announcer delivered the news that we had been going to great extremes to ignore.

“And England celebrates simultaneously with the United States, who have just received a late goal from Landon Donavan to take the group and advance to the round of 16.”

Finally, the news had broke.

That was Alaska. I don’t know if I will ever be back, but if I do, I will spend as little time in Anchorage as possible and go fishing.

Hello From Spokane, Washington

There’s a little pizza shop in Spokane, Washington that has been voted the best pizza in Spokane in each of the last 14 years. The average employee tenure is 3.5 years, when the restaurant industry average is 1 year.

What’s going on at this little pizza shop that can be replicated at your business?

What’s interesting to me about this pizza shop is that the majority of their employees resemble the employees working at your business. Young. Inexperienced. Finding their way in the world and working their way through school.

All the lessons from this pizza shop can be applied when running your operation.

Read the full interview at: