J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Category: Travel (Page 1 of 3)

Lightweight Chromebook for the Travel Win

I just got back from a family vacation in Spain and France, mostly to visit my dad and his wife who live in a small village near Avignon. As a family we’ve been trying to travel as light as possible. Last summer we flew on WOW Airlines and decided to not check any baggage, which limited us each to a 5kg carry-on bag. For this trip we flew Norwegian Air, which has a 10kg carry-on bag limit per person. That felt generous by comparison, and at the last minute I decided it might be nice to have some sort of computing device besides my phone.

I haven’t taken an expensive laptop on vacation since my MacBook Pro got nicked in Hawaii from our rental apartment. But with near-ubiquitous wifi in Europe, I thought it might be time for my own Chromebook. Kia bought an HP Chromebook 11 a few years ago and we shared it during our Italy trip last summer, but I knew she had a few projects to manage remotely on this trip, and there wouldn’t be much sharing. So I hopped on my bike and rolled down to Best Buy the day before our trip.

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Sunburned in Iceland, Brits in France, Driving in Rome


A minor thunderstorm in Rome to break the heat.

I recently returned from a European jaunt with my family. It was an exciting time to be in Europe with both the Brexit vote and the Euro Cup. The football tournament took center stage — we happened to be in downtown Reykjavik for Iceland’s first goal (the loudest cheer I’d ever heard), and endured a cancelled train due to hooliganism in Marseille. A few stories from our trip …

Let’s Go Swimming!

Good times at Laugardalslaug.

Good times at Laugardalslaug.

We flew in and out of Reykjavik primarily because we were seduced by the ultra-low fares of WOW Airlines. By the time you pay for your hotel in Iceland, you don’t actually save any money, but we enjoyed our short stay. There was a Viking longhouse museum directly underneath our hotel, an early settlement discovered during construction. Among the many fascinating things I learned at the museum is the fact that about 80% of Icelandic men have Nordic paternal ancestry, while about 60% of Icelandic women have Celtic maternal ancestry (Norse Vikings taking wives from the British Isles and settling on the western isle, apparently). The early Icelanders didn’t stop their western explorations there; Greenlandic Icelanders briefly settled in Newfoundland around 1000AD.

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Bricks by the Bay 2015

Alice Finch's Mouse Guard!

Alice Finch’s Mouse Guard

We recently took a day trip to Santa Clara to check out Bricks by the Bay, a LEGO builders convention. I’ve tried to get into this before but the line has always been too intimidating. This year we bought VIP early entry tickets (only $20 each) and had a full hour to check out the builds with plenty of room to navigate the hall. There were so many excellent, impressive builds. Here are a few of my favorites!

From Alice Finch's Mouse Guard display

More from Alice Finch’s Mouse Guard display

Here’s a post about the origins of the Mouse Guard bricks. You can follow Alice Finch on Flickr — check out her amazing Hogwart’s builds as well.

"The Walking Plastic" zombie apocalypse!

“The Walking Plastic” zombie apocalypse!

I loved this comparatively small build of a kung fu fight in a Chinese inn.

I didn’t catch the names of all the builders … feel free to add info in the comments if you see something you recognize!

Battle scene, possibly LOTR

Battle scene, possibly LOTR

Iron Giant defends a city!

Iron Giant defends a city!

Scrooge McDuck's gold vault.

Scrooge McDuck’s gold vault.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Shootin' hoops in the park.

Shootin’ hoops in the park.

Get your iPhone 6 here.

Get your iPhone 6 here.

Don't get run over.

Don’t get run over.

Lighthouse! (Anybody reading Jeff Vandermeer? Extra significance ...)

Lighthouse! (Anybody reading Jeff Vandermeer? Extra significance … )

Underwater adventure.

Underwater adventure.



A fun day trip … highly recommended! Thanks to all the builders who put many hours into these amazing displays.

Momu Mobile Studio Setup (MOMU-MSS): Making Electronic Music on the Road

Momu's Mayakoba mobile studio setup.

Momu’s Mayakoba mobile studio setup.

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy an all-expenses-paid resort trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico with Mark Musselman (the other half of Momu). While I’d written plenty of music on the road with an ultra-minimal laptop + headphones setup, this was the first time attempting to travel with a “mini-studio” that would make collaborative beat-making easy and fun and not involve additional checked luggage. The vacation (or “creative sabbatical”) happened to coincide with the release of Momu’s new album The Mission (now available on Beatport, also presale until April 8 on iTunes and Amazon).

When planning our gear we knew we needed the following:

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Adventurecation! (6 principles)

The Norumbega Inn, in Camden, Maine (photo by Terry Bowker)

The Norumbega Inn, Camden, Maine (photo by Terry Bowker)

Just got back from two weeks on the East Coast, where we visited friends and family in Maine and Massachusetts. We tried a new style of traveling, borrowed from our friends The Wests, from Bonny Doon, who have three kids. Basically, you get on the road and see where it takes you. They’ve dubbed this style “adventurecation.” Why not?

For the first week, we stayed with Kia’s extended family in Martha’s Vineyard. We had dinner on a schooner. BBQ’s and beach parties. Ate lobster. Ran into Jake Gyllenhaal at the deli. Good times!

But week 2 of our vacation, we had no plan at all. We had talked about visiting some friends who had recently moved to Maine, and had some really vague ideas about what else we might do (like maybe visit Acadia National Park). For a planner like me, the prospect was nerve-wracking. No plan, no itinerary? I had visions of driving around dark towns late at night, and settling for a crappy, overpriced hotel room.

The actual experience was the opposite of my fears. We discovered and explored  some great places, and (when we weren’t guests of friends or family) stayed in fantastic hotels, inns, and resorts, at prices that were extremely reasonable.

Here’s how we did it:

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How To Spin It (Turn All Luck Into Good Luck)

View from the Kalalau Trail, on the north shore of Kauai.

I’ve just returned from a week of vacation in Kauai, a fact which will likely lessen the depth of pity you feel for me when you hear my sad story.  At the end of this post, you may even find yourself wishing that the “bad” luck I encountered while traveling had found you instead.

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