It's an Exciting World

The life and times of David Geisert

London, Week 1

On arriving and getting settled into London we had an amazing friend, Irene, who cooked for us as we unpacked, and showed us around the parts of the city that she knew. It was great having her here as we arrived. She also introduced us to some of her London friends.

The first week we visited her place in Camden, which is a half hour walk along the canal to get to. The walk itself is gorgeous, during the day and night. There are also lots of boats along the canal. Our apartment is right next to one of the major basins with many longer boats.

We went shopping at a few different grocery stores, just to see the neighborhood and what it had. We found a small, but well stocked pet store in Angle, the neighborhood east of King’s Cross. I spent some time working on immigration paperwork, and we both now have our long term permits.

Irene took us to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park one day. We met her there, although she was a little late as she misjudged the train routes and ended up going a few stops in the wrong direction. The Winter Wonderland was an interesting fairground. It had an absurd amount of Bavarian styled tents that looked like they were really meant for Oktoberfest. They had lots of shops, and even more food and drink. We did get a few spiced ciders, mulled wines, and hot chocolates. Looking around the fairgrounds there were a few tents that had regular prices, but you had to look hard for them, and they were a little tucked away.

We ended up in Thor’s Tipi, a large tent with viking themes and fireplaces. That was a nice place to relax before heading to high tea at The Beaumont. The high tea was delicious, and the atmosphere was excellent. The park just outside was also nice.

We took the tube to near the Tower Bridge, where the concert we were going to would be later. We walked by the water as I took some calls with people on the US West Coast. Then we walked over to the venue at All Hallows by the Tower. We were there for a Christmas Choir performance, that had a few sing alongs for the more well known songs. The church itself was amazing, and the choir was great. I especially liked the history and stories that went along with them, and the narrator that read out the stories was great.

The next day I worked while Steph redid the apartment to be more to our liking.That evening we met up with Irene and friend for drinks, and had a lovely conversation. We had an early night and I got a bit more done for move logistics.

The weekend was nice as we went shopping for more kitty things, then we joined Irene on the underground to head out to Woolwich to see The Burnt City. I’d seen it before and it blew my mind, so I had to take Steph and Irene. They both liked it, but it is hard to say if it blew their minds as much as it did mine when I first saw it. It was also great to explore the set more, as I missed a lot last time. I also got to see more of the story this time, as well as a different cast.

Sunday morning Steph and I tried out the Box Fit class at Frame and liked it. I also want to get over to the other workout gyms nearby and try out their classes and weight rooms, but that will have to be next week. We spent most of Sunday on logistics and planning for the apartment and our time in London.

Getting to London

As our time in the Bay Area was winding down we had a few things happen. First I got covid, most likely from Steph’s family in Hawaii. Then Steph got it from me. We also had a lot to get done with the move. We sold our cars. We sold, gave away, or got rid of our furniture and electronics. And we prepared for our house to be rentable. For the last few days I was there, and the last week Steph was there the house was completely empty. We were using camping gear on the floor.

The movers game to get our pile of stuff for the air shipment and the ground shipment, then I was off to Atlanta.

I got to the UK and was able to get all my stuff and onto the underground without issues. I was about an hour late, but the upgrade to business class was nice enough to make me not mind it so much. I got to our new apartment in a building complex called Ice Wharf. I checked in and put my stuff down, but had to get to King’s Cross to meet up with Irene.

We had a nice walk along the canal to where she was staying in Camden. Then we headed to the grocery store and back to my place. She was so kind and made dinner for the two of us while I unpacked and got things ready for Steph and the kitties to arrive.

The next day I did some shopping to get the last few things that were really needed for the kitties and Steph on arrival. I then had a long wait for news of the kitties, but luckily they were doing just fine. Steph showed up shortly before the cats, and we brought them up into the bedroom. They were traumatized, and Lana even sounded horse from meowing so much in transit. Archer hid under the clothes hamper and Lana found a way under the bed. We gave them some time to relax and went to the grocery store again. Irene came over for dinner again, bringing some soup, and we chatted for a while and checked in on the cats often.

Archer and Lana were ready to explore the apartment the next morning and were almost back to their normal selves by the middle of the next day. I was so relieved that they were quick to adjust. They especially like the views from the windows.

Thanksgiving in Atlanta

I was able to stop over in Atlanta as I moved from San Francisco Bay Area to London. I arrived after a red eye at 5am. The large bag pickup didn’t open until 5:30 so I waited around a bit for the guitar my dad had made to show up. My mom came down to the airport to get me. While she is an early rise, that was still very early for her and something I’m thankful for.

We headed to their house and she and I talked for a few hours before my dad got up. Even though I was tired and didn’t sleep well on the plane, I wanted to make sure I was adjusting to the earlier time zone, and then some.

We spent Thanksgiving at my parents house. Jeff, Katie, Elise, Kim, and Grace came over. Grace was cute, and we played some hide and seek. Elise and Grace had a great time together. They put on a little parade with some drunks and a harmonica.

Jeff and Katie brought over most of the food. I was pretty much useless at this point from the lack of sleep so Dad and I played some Gin. He beat me, which was the first time in many years.

Over the rest of the weekend Mom and I went on nice walk, we went to the club for breakfast, and I was able to move some stuff around for them.

We also were able to make it to Birmingham to see Nana. She is doing better than last time I saw her. She followed along with the conversation well and knew who I was. Everyone else seemed to be doing well, too.

They dropped me off at the airport Sunday evening and I was off to London.

Hawaii with the Lees

On Thursday, Steph and I got to the airport pretty early, and were already in the boarding line by the time her parents got there. They were able to board immediately, so we didn’t actually see them until we were in Hawaii. We grabbed the rental car and went to the hotel. Steph and I were ready for a walk after the plane trip, so we headed down to Waikiki and walked along the beach.

A friend of mine, Brian, was staying only a few blocks away for a few months, and we reached out to him, he got back to us that he was finishing up his remote work around 3pm, so we could meet up for a walk and drinks. We had a great conversation with him and planned to see him again on Monday.

That evening we met up with a large group of the Lee family for dinner at a restaurant one of the relatives owned and several others worked at. It was a fantastic Japanese style dinner, with some great curry, amazing sushi, and poke nachos. I met some of the cousins I already knew and was able to meet their boyfriends, who were pretty cool.

The next day we went on a dive out of Island Divers Hawaii. They were a pretty well run operation compared to the previous extremely sketchy place I dove with before, with a large open dive boat. The first dive site we went to was Coco Craters, which seems to be the popular dive site where all the boats take tourists because it’s shallow and there aren’t any delicate coral formations for newbies to accidentally destroy. It looked like a moonscape with just white dead coral everywhere. I still saw a number of fish, but not many. The second dive site was a drift dive called Angler’s Reef, which had a lot more fish and gorgeous coral formations. We saw a school of puffer fish, about 20 of them, on that dive.

The next day we dropped Steph’s parents at the airport, as they were taking a day trip to Maui. Then we went to pick up some mochi in a little shop next to some construction companies. It was a hole in the wall, but delicious. We also stopped by Zippy’s to get a loco moco. It was everything I expected it to be.

We then met with Krista and Daniel and drop out to Sunset Beach. There we met with Travis, who is quite the spearfisher and freediver. We went out with him and did a little free diving, but I had only brought my mask for scuba diving, and so didn’t have a snorkle. I was able to participate, but didn’t get a great dive as I couldn’t really fully catch my breath. We found a small arch and each of us swam through it. It was about 15ft down and only 4 to 5 feet across with 2 foot clearance. While out diving with Travis, we had a massive military cargo plane fly over at maybe 100ft off the water.

Marissa and Sterling showed up with an absurd amount of food, especially considering Travis had also brought enough to feed all of us. Daniel stayed on the beach for the most part. When he did finally try to come down to the water he found the only rock on the beach and tripped over it, face planting into the sand. His dog, Belle was adorable, and a ton of fun to play with as she chased after a coconut, and then ripped it up when she got it.

Travis headed out to catch some fish, and managed to get 5 of them, including 2 big ones.

We headed back and spent the night in. With the next morning being pretty lazy. We decided Sunday was the day for malassadas at Leonard’s. Malassadas are a fried dough originally from the Portuguese islands. We grabbed the malassadas and headed to the Kuliouou Ridge trail. We got up to the halfway point and had a rest with some malassadas. We climbed the stairs up the rest of the way and had some great views and some more malassadas. Then we rushed down and had the last one at the bottom.

We got back to the hotel in time, but needed a restful afternoon before the big family dinner. We went to the dinner and I got to meet many of Steph’s cousins. I showed some of them the VR headset and they seemed to like it. Travis showed us his trophy fish prints, which were amazing. He had caught some massive fish, and the prints themselves were masterfully done.

The next day we tried to find a place that would do mochi waffles, and we found one in a hotel a little ways away. We got there and it was a fancy hotel, but the waffles weren’t nearly as good as the ones Tina makes. The view was great and we got to watch some wing foils doing tricks during breakfast. After that we hung out at the hotel and on the beach until it was time to meet up with Brian. We did a nice dinner at the Highway Inn for some real Hawaiian food, with his first time having poi. He thought much the same as I did, that it is bland and not good on its own. The rest of the food was amazing.

I tried to see the eclipse that evening, but it could only get a blurry glimpse through the clouds.

The next morning we were informed that Chu Chu got Covid, and the Lees tested before we got on the flight. I tested once we got back, all negatives. The flight wasn’t too bad, but the guy sitting next to Steph had some bad BO.

We got home and the kitties were so happy to see us. It was a good trip, and it was nice to see Steph’s family before moving.

Beat Saber Dance Group

Ever since Tina and I played Beat Saber together in the Tahoe cabin, I wanted to get a group of Expert+ players together to get a video of us all moving in sync.  I put the call out at work and was able to get a few together for it. 

Napa with Ricardo and Irene

Irene and Ricardo had us over to their new place in Fairfield.  They had gotten the place a few months ago as part of going to MBA programs in Berkeley and Davis.  They were mostly able to work remotely, but going to classes and taking tests required them to actually show up in person at the Universities.  We got there and they showed us their still empty house.  They didn’t have much furniture yet, but they had some really nice art pieces and a place for both of them to work.  They had a mattress on the floor and a plan for how they would fill up the rest of the house.

They took us to breakfast at a really nice restaurant that was in one of the nicer Napa hotels.  It was a great atmosphere and delicious food.  We then went to the first winery that had a fantastic garden patio where we were able to try some delightful wines.  They had a pretty good range, and the 2020 was clearly a smoky vintage from all the fires.  It was one of the first times I could really connect the land and my knowledge of what happened there to the taste of a wine.  Even though those vineyards didn’t burn, the ash that coated the grapes must have contributed to the flavor.

The second winery was a modern geometric construction at the top of a hill.  It had a pretty lawn and phenomenal view.  We got the sparkling wine and it went great with the view.  We had some great conversations and made plans to see each other in Europe.  Dinner was in Downtown Napa at a nice Mexican restaurant.  We said our goodbyes as it was getting pretty late for Steph and I with an hour and a half drive back home for the evening.

Moving to London

Steph and I have decided to move to London.  This has been a crazy process of hoping for Portugal, maybe settling for Spain, and then firmly committing to London.  We will be moving with the support of my employer, and have been helped along the way by all sorts of family and friends.  We will be living right next to King’s Cross Station in Islington.  The neighborhood looks nice, and our block is tucked up next to the canal.  I’m hoping we can spend a few years there, travelling Europe and figuring out where we want to be long term.  This will hopefully be a stepping stone to our future, and give us an idea of where we would really like to be, and what we would like to do, long term.

Mushroom Searches – Point Reyes, Soquel

Steph and I wanted to find some mushrooms due to the unseasonably early rains.  We first went to Point Reyes almost exactly two weeks after the rains.  We had done a moderately successful mushroom search at the Bear Valley Visitor Center a few years ago and wanted to see if the areas that had mushrooms last time had some this time.  We didn’t find all thet many, with the only edible ones we found being a few deer mushrooms.  We also found a strange yellow polypore that turned out to be a dyeing mushroom.  We met Uzer and two of his friends there, but they had a dog and child, so were unable to actually both join for the hike.  The wife joined, and we had about 45 minutes of searching before heading back.  Steph and I continued our search in some of the other areas of the park, but were similarly disappointed.  It was clearly a little too early for the mushrooms there.

The next weekend we had plans to go to the renaissance fair and decided to stop by Soquel forest beforehand.  The hike was really nice, and we saw a bunch of oyster mushrooms on the fallen trees.  I think there were a few spots that formerly had nice mushrooms growing, but they had been harvested, likely the previous day.  It is absolutely worth going again before we leave.  The forest also has a tree map, which is rare.  It has the general tree composition of the different parts of the forest with approximate age and size details of the trees.  It lets us know where the most likely place for the mushrooms we are looking for to be.  That combined with the topographic map give us an idea of where we should be looking.

Renaissance Fair

We went to the Renaissance fair with Paul and Yutong.  Adam was there earlier in the day, but we missed him as he was driving to Vegas and wanted to get an earlier start.  We had stopped by Soquel Demonstration Forest to check for some mushrooms in the morning.  When we arrived Paul and Yutong were also just then pulling up.  We headed in and found Chris teaching sword lessons in the back of the food court.  We let him teach and wandered the rest of the fair for a bit.  We tried our hand at a few of the weapon sports.  First was darts, where I almost succeeded, but hit the lines instead of the planets.  Then there was the throwing stars where we had Paul kick everyone’s ass, until he threw his second to last star and knocked all the others out of the block.  Then we went to the highlight of the show, the joust.  It was a hilarious production with lots of intricate moving parts.  We were in the Scotland section of the stands, and there were also sections for Spain, France, and England.  None of the knights were good honorable people, and they all had their hilarious foibles.  The fight scenes were great and the horseback riding was well done.  We had a great time.

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