Goodbye Southern California

Setting off from San Diego, we drive around a few of the suburbs, including the Old Town and head North to the beachside resort area of La Jolla, where some coffee and shopping is on order.

We manage to achieve both objectives and find many parallels with similar areas in Australia.






It’s then on to the North, through San Clemente and finally Newport before firing up a GPS for the first time on tour and hightailing it to the Dollar rental return and shuttle at LAX.  Airport wifi, last minute uploads, seating and flight.

14 or so hours, baggage wrangling, car pickup, F3 and:

We’re home.





The Fourth of July

It looked like it was going to literally rain on the parade for the 4th of July as we packed our gear and checked out of our apartment in Cambridge.  It had been a great stay; another AirBNB success.

We’d decided before this trip to seek out a hometown parade for the 4th of July and with the help of Google, found a very likely contender in Chelmsford, MA, North West of Boston.  A friend on Twitter had also suggested Hingham, which is South of Boston, but after seeing the planned special event road closures we decided that it was probably going to be a less risky traffic option to go North.  The car was due for return to Logan in time for our 4.30 flight to San Diego. We duly set off in our rental car, with all of our baggage on board and Lynette in the navigator seat providing live directions and updates courtesy of Google maps and the iPad using the microsim we’d picked up at the AT&T shop in Santa Monica.  It proved to be a very easy and amazingly useful travel and information aid.

Chelmsford is a beautiful town, and decked out in its absolute red, white and blue splendour.  We were in luck, and spent the next couple of hours marvelling at the community connection and pride exemplified in the parade.  It really was an amazing experience, and everything we had hoped for.

The footage below will give you an idea of the parade.

If you have any comments, please feel free to click and add your comments.

Please excuse the unedited section where the Flip camera was dangling from my wrist after a push of the button to turn it off clearly failed :-(

(Keep watching, as the vision sorts itself out.)

Leaving Chelmsford, we bustled from freeway to freeway: directed by satellite sometimes down seemingly illogical small roads to link one multi lane carrier with another.

The rental shuttle drops us at the airport on a very quiet afternoon at Logan, and we’re quickly through security with plenty of time for some online catch-ups and a New Institute mailout and site update.

Despite being long, at six hours, the flight to San Diego was uneventful and San Diego airport was also quiet as we picked up a Dollar rental car shuttle and then our ride for the next 24 hours; a Chevrolet Impala.  As we’d already spent time in San Diego and knew the basic lie of the land it wasn’t long before we were checked into our hotel and arranging chairs on the tenth floor to watch the Big Bay Boom: the city of San Diego fireworks display over San Diego harbour.  Below us in the streets we could see people thronging toward the water front as the pre show anticipation built.  Then… the whole lot erupted about ten minutes early! A huge set of explosions rocked the buildings and the sky was alive with flashes, shimmer and bright firework colours.

A malfunction had caused the Big Bay Boom to live up to the name!

We had just witnessed a pyrotechnical premature conflagration, and it was all over.

We’d just seen something which was quickly all over Twitter and being reported in the press worldwide; including this piece from the Sydney Morning Herald.

(Just click the logo below)


North and South

After riding our bikes back to Boston via Harvard, Broadway, MIT and the east end of Boston, we walk through the Boston financial district and pick up the T at Park Street for a smooth ride back to Harvard Square.  Frozen Yoghurt, from Pink Berry, provides a nice post lunch tang and we walk back to our apartment before heading out again to pick up a rental car just off Harvard Square.

Then, it’s off through the Northern parts from Cambridge, tracking back through Porter Sqare where we’d gone the night before  to hear a couple of interesting bands at Toad,  a bar which boasts Tracey Chapman as one of the previous discoveries.  We hear The Silks, a band from Providence Rhode Island who have a lot of the Neil Young style going on and they do an excellent three part harmony rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall be Released

Then, it’s the turn of The Whiskey Boys, playing contemporary takes on traditional Celtic inspired American folk and bluegrass. All in all, a good night.

So, in our rental Mitsubishi, we cruise North to Reading and then on to Salem; which still carries the mystique of its association with witchcraft trials.  Readers of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible‘ may identify with the setting.  We find a nice bike shop and wander up and down the mall, where lots and lots of shops and other businesses are still drawing a link to the theme of witchery.

It’s then on to Marblehead, with beautiful light and almost every house decked out ready for the fourth of July.

The late afternoon lights the bay and the low tide provides a rich aroma of the sea as we begin our trip back toward Boston through small townships which proclaim their red white and blue.

In one of those unusual quirks of what just ‘happens,’ we take a wrong turn and end up having to cross a long causeway to a place called Nahant.

Lynette has the iPad operating in the passengers seat and is using Yelp to find places to go. We decide that it’s time for a relaxed fish and chips type dinner overlooking the water and Yelp finds us ‘Tides‘ restaurant and pub, overlooking Nahant Beach, where we enjoy some great Halibut, Chips and Coleslaw while watch the fading sun introduce pink hues to the late afternoon view.

Boston lies off in the southern distance as the flag flutters proudly in the dying sun’s rays.







Our trip back to Cambridge goes well until some navigational shenanigans which sees some freestyle direction finding and an eventual return, finding a street parking spot for the car and settling in for some relaxation before a busy day exploring to the South.

After a quick trip to feed some quarters into the parking meter, we do some Google maps research and head off down Massachusetts Avenue to the South, before hooking up with the 93, and off through Braintree and a few backroads before arriving in Plymouth, where the signs proclaim it to be ‘America’s Hometown.’

As the place where the pilgrims on the Mayflower forged their first settlement, and ate that first Thanksgiving dinner with hopes of creating a settlement free of persecution and with rules and systems to suit their beliefs, Plymouth is certainly a beautiful spot.

Lovely old homes soak up the bright sumer sun, and the sense of history is palpable.

We have another Yelp success, finding a coffee shop and then taking a walk around the historic foreshore, where memorials abound of those early years from around 1620, where the Mayflower survivors named the location after the place of their departure from England.

Further to the South and we reach the Cape Cod area, where we find a lovely bar/restaurant in Sandwich, where we sample their award winning entry in the annual ‘Best Sandwich in Sandwich’ competition: a plate of Chicken and Lobster sliders, adorned with a garnish of edible flowers.

All of this from another Yelp find, at Aqua Grille, overlooking the fishing fleet and canal.








The next door building typifies so many of the lovely buildings we have all seen on the movies.  To see them right there, on a warm Cape Cod afternoon was great.

Due to time, we made the decision not to head further East to the Atlantic end of Cape Cod and turned West instead for Newport Rhode Island.

Newport didn’t disappoint

Away from the tourist throngs of the harbour area, beautifully kept grounds and magnificent homes abound, with classic windswept views of bays and gables, staring out across the water.

We find a spot down by the dock and watch the boats come and go, a decent coffee and apple pie at hand before setting off North again through Providence Rhode Island, with its Capitol: reminiscent of Washington and the busy freeway back to Boston


Bike Rental Roll Call

We’ve now managed to tick off a number of cities seen from the seat of a hired bike.

Generally, it’s not hard to find bikes for hire in most cities. Just a tip though; in the US they refer to it as bike rental, or cycle rental, so; if Googling, you’ll have more luck if you use this search term.  Most companies have an hourly rate, a half day rate of 24 hour rate.  Usually, if you go for the 24 hour rate this then means that if you pick up a bike at, say 12 noon, then it’s due back at 12 noon the next day.  This can often provide you with more flexibility.  We did this in Boston yesterday and today and it worked out well.

Usually, helmets are included, but you may have to ask for them when hiring.  It’s also a good idea to ask for a lock, or locks. This means that you can take advantage of the freedom of being able to park outside a coffee shop or whatever and lock bikes up to a pole.  If the bike has quick release wheels or seats, it’s a good idea not to leave it unattended for too long, or ask to have a long cable lock as well as a D lock so that you can secure both wheels as well as the frame.  It’s a bit sad seeing some frames secured to bike racks or poles around various cities, with both wheels gone.

So far, in the cities we have cycled on this trip, these shops have been good to rent from. (Just click the graphic for a link to their website.)

San Francisco




San Diego















OK, so we didn’t actually hire bikes here. The shop has some great stuff though, and friendly staff.  We picked up a cool T Shirt on special and some other bits and pieces.  In historic Salem Massachusetts.

Biking Boston

As expected, Boston provided another hot day.  We walked up to Harvard Square and caught the T into Boston.  Like most of the US cities we’ve visited, public transport is a great option, and the T didn’t disappoint.  We changed to another line downtown and then, after checking our bearings courtesy of Google maps, headed down to Urban Adventours in Atlantic Avenue where we were soon underway with some nice bikes.

Despite the heat, we managed to cycle around the North part of Boston, with its Italian restaurants and growing numbers of soccer supporters ready for the final of Euro 2012.

We then cycled through the financial district and over Beacon Hill to Boston Common before cruising down Newbury Street in Back bay and finally seeking refuge from the heat in an Irish pub just across the river from MIT.

We saw Italy defeated and then crossed the river for a cycle back up the Charles to our apartment near Harvard Square.

The video is below.

Boston – 1 July 2012 from Roger Pryor on Vimeo.

Harvard Summer

After a long wait for a delayed flight from O’Hare International in Chicago, we finally take off and climb to the East, out over Lake Michigan, with the towers of downtown Chicago off to the South. It’s amazing to think of the size of this system of Great Lakes and it takes a while before the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan comes into view and we cross the Canadian border for a while before overflying upstate New York and into Massachusetts.

Inflight wifi is great and means that it’s possible to tweet and upload photos from mid-air.

Just as we did in Washington last year, it’s time to marvel again at the tenacity of the ‘navigators,’ the canal builders who constructed hundreds of kilometres of canals, providing navigable waterways for transportation.  In Washington, we cycled along part of the old towpath for the Chesapeke and Ohio canal, where here, we now overfly, at 38,000 feet, the Erie Canal, which was hewn from Albany on the upper Hudson, to Buffalo; joining the Eastern seaports at New York with the Great Lake system: a pathway into the mid west.


The clear sky above Boston allows us some great vision of beautiful homes with faces raised to the sun as we swoop in to land at Logan International just across the harbour from Downtown Boston.  We get a cab to our next ‘home’ for our stay in Boston.



We’ve once again used AirBNB to book an apartment and this time it is within walking distance of Harvard Square, the bustling hub of the area around Harvard University: one of the Ivy League, and founded in 1636 as a private University with a simple, yet powerful motto: Veritas.

We find the key and open up a pleasant, light and airy apartment in a lovely residential street, where students cycle or walk past, and the trees; full with their summer green, provide a dappled light in the hot summer afternoon.


We walk on up to Harvard Square and its collection of cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as milling tourist groups and a protest underway in support of something to do with Bangladesh.

We walk across the road into Harvard Yard, a pleasance of green and beautiful buildings; all of which could whisper the memories of famous scholars and achievements.

High above the steeples and light standards which reach up toward the blue in the late afternoon, a jet stream looks like the remnants of a near miss above Harvard Yard.

We stroll around the lovely grounds, before gathering a few necessities for breakfast and some Samuel Adams Boston lager for refreshment and walk back to our apartment, before a nice dinner at Daedalus, a restaurant on Mount Austin street, next door to the site of the former Club 47, which is famous as a venue for the growing American Folk Scene in the late fifties and early sixties: hosting singers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. It is now a cleaner.  The times they are a’changing.



We’re planning on riding the T, the Boston subway tomorrow, into downtown and hopefully to a bike rental store for a look around downtown Boston, Boston Common and back bay before a cycle along the Charles River which King Charles of England decided should be named after him.

Nice work if you can get it, I guess.


One of the great things about travel is the opportunity it provides to discover things about places that you didn’t initially imagine. Chicago has been one of those discoveries.

Today, we hired bikes and headed East from Downtown along the River Walk and then South along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan. It’s amazing to be on the edge of such a huge freshwater lake which actually supplies the drinking water for the city itself, but which looks like a sea; stretching off as far as the eye can sea.

We ride down to the area where the Chicago World Fair was held in 1933.

Then, as the heat lingers, we turn North again and cycle back up to Navy Pier: an amusement park which projects out into the lake just near the entrance to the Chicago River.

A short visit reassures us that amusement piers don’t really differ much around the world and we are back in the saddle and riding North again, past swimming lanes in the lake and boardwalks which stretch out across the sand of artificial beaches, where it’s clear that the city can come to cool off on summer days.

By this time, the Western sky is darkening in readiness for a storm, and we leave the waterfront and cycle West to the Chicago History Museum; not far from Lincoln Park and the site of the gatherings of Yippies and the youth who came to Chicago in 1968 to ‘change the world.’

The museum opens our eyes to the huge role that Chicago has played in the shared American psyche.  We wander around exhibitions while the storm and summer rain passes by, marvelling at the things we hadn’t known before.

We’ve only just come to Chicago, and we leave tomorrow.

Hopefully we’ll be back again sometime soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy some of my reflections on the flip camera footage from today’s bike ride and the events which took place when I was a teenager, growing up in country NSW.


Chicago from Roger Pryor on Vimeo.

Won’t you please come to Chicago

Graham Nash wrote these lyrics as part of a song which followed the anti-Vietnam protests in Chicago during the Democratic Party Convention in 1968 and around the time of the trial of the ‘Chicago Eight’ for inciting a riot.

Chicago was much more peaceful yesterday as we landed at O’Hare International in the midst of a hot summer day with temperature up around 100 degrees.

The trip from the airport to the Downtown area took around 40 minutes in a train which left from within the terminal buildings and cost $2.25.

Chicago June 2012 from Roger Pryor on Vimeo.

This looks like a great city, and we’re up early to try to see more of it by cycle before it gets too hot.

San Diego – Home to ISTE 2012

San Diego sits a few hours to the South of LA, and, as Lynette says: “flies under the radar.”  That is, we don’t seem to hear much about  a city which is actually a very pleasant combination of the old and the new, nestled beside the harbour which has traditionally been the home to the huge US Navy Pacific Fleet base.  We can imagine that this must have been a hive of frantic activity during World War Two following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

San Diego’s proximity to Mexico makes it an ideal place to enjoy some Mexican food and you can’t go far wrong with a fresh Burrito Bowl for $6.50 as a lunchtime treat.

The Convention Centre sits alongside the bay, with nicely landscaped park areas where multi million dollar yachts tie up and a parkland space has been set up for a summer ‘pops’ series of concerts by the San Diego Philharmonic.

In the convention centre itself, around 16000 conference attendees from the US and around the world cover an average of almost 10 kilometres per day moving between presentation rooms and keynote sessions as well as the exposition hall which covers the equivalent of five football fields.

The Tuesday keynote was provided by Dr Yong Zhao, whose work I have admired for a number of years since I first heard him coin the term ‘glocalisation’ to reinforce the potential we have to connect within a ‘metaverse’ at both a local and global level simultaneously.  His keynote didn’t disappoint, and he attacked the sacred cow of international testing programs like PISA by making the observation that China did not have a party when Shanghai topped the world league tables in PISA: they’d prefer to have a few more like Steve Jobs.

The shot below shows Yong Zhao walking onto the huge stage after an introduction by retiring ISTE CEO Don  Knezek.  You can see the keynote on YouTube here - (You’ll need to fast forward to the 54.30 mark to get to Yong’s entry and keynote.)

I’ll be writing a separate piece about ISTE itself, but, suffice to say, it was an opportunity once again to renew some acquaintances with  a number of people and to meet with others to discuss possibilities related to some programs and use of contemporary learning tools.

Separating the bayside area from the main part of ‘downtown’ San Diego is both a heavy rail line and two parallel light rail lines with a series of level crossings complete with bells and boom gates reminiscent of the Stewart Avenue crossing in Newcastle.  Given the current argy bargy around the rail line in Newcastle, it seems that other cities around the world manage to find ways to deal with such a scenario without it being an either/or proposition.  Maybe in Newcastle we need to think a little differently and look at ways that we can conceptualise how we use the spaces we have and be creative about access.

Across the lines from the Convention Centre and we enter the Gaslamp Quarter which is literally street after street of restaurants and bars. Once again, this is the type of density of entertainment offering which adds enormous value to the convention usage and tourism potential of San Diego.  Apparently around 60 conventions per year are held at the Convention Centre and, if we added up the injection of dollars into the city via the hospitality and other service industries, then this is a very significant economic generator for the city.  While Newcastle is certainly not on the same scale, imagine what some of the possibilities might be in re-imagining the CBD as the ‘Old Town’ and developing a blend of both short and long term residential options as well as some contemporary convention style facilities: all under three hours from the largest city in Australia with the benefit of easy access to vineyards, Port Stephens, and onward flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and destinations like Ballina/Byron Bay.

I was proud to be able to present my session on Wednesday morning wearing my TEDxNewy T-Shirt to draw attention to the transformation which is happening in Newcastle as a whole range of people connect and collaborate to look at ways to design and create Newcastle as a city of ideas and innovation based on both a traditional heritage of creating and ‘making’ and a vibrant contemporary connected community focused on the positives within our city.


As the conference wound up, we took the opportunity to explore a litte further afield by renting a couple of cycles and using the paths which provide access along the shoreline to a number of historic ships tied up, including the massive USS Midway, one of a large number of aircraft carriers, or ‘flat-tops’ which provided a revolutionary change in sea going warfare and certainly provided much of the forward attack capability in the US Pacific engagement.  Further up along the bay and sailing ships lie alongside the dock, recalling earlier times when access to the West Coast of ‘the Americas’ was only achieved after fearsome passages around Cape Horn, in the latitudes where hands could freeze in the rigging while furling stiff sodden sails in a Southern gale.

Alongside the magnificent bayside Hilton sits the headquarters of the Dole shipping operation which runs regular container ship voyages to Central and South America, returning with cargoes of bananas for the US markets.

All in all, it’s been a great experience to visit San Diego and we’ll actually fly back here on the evening of the 4th of July where we’ll stay overnight before driving the few hours North to LAX for our return flight to Australia; taking in the sights of beachside areas like Huntington.

This blog update is being done high above the US on an American Airlines flight from San Diego to Chicago, where the temperature on arrival is predicted to be around 36 degrees celsius: back to summer and apparently a high humidity.