the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: vacation

Letter Writing Campaign


I try not to get political on this blog, but I plead with you to help me with this important issue. 

Sophia and I will be driving to Portland in the beginning of March and we may take a week or two to complete the trip.  Today, I was saying that we need to find hotels with internet access so that I will be able to blog every day.

“No way!” she said.  “We’re on vacation.  I’m not going to sit there every night watching you blog and write five hundred emails  We’re supposed to be having fun.”

“I need to blog a little.  People will get worried.”

“Worried about what?”

“If they don’t hear from me, they might think we fell into the Pacific Ocean or a redwood fell on top of us.” 

“If that happened, they’d read about it in the newspaper.  You’re NOT blogging EVERY DAY.”

“Listen, woman, I’m the one wearing the pants, so don’t go telling ME what I can or cannot do.  I will decide how much I blog!” I loudly thought to myself.

You can see the seriousness of my situation.  My only real hope is YOU.  I made a deal with Sophia.  She will agree to let me blog every day if, and ONLY if, I can collect 1,500,000 signatures by March 1st saying that it is essential that I blog every day.  If I accomplish this, Sophia will not stand in my way.  Otherwise, she will give me a lot of shit.

Please help.   Send all signatures to:

“Let Neil Blog While On Vacation Campaign”
Redondo Beach City Hall
Redondo Beach, CA

Survivor: Santa Fe

(all photos taken by Sophia with her Nokia cameraphone)

Proposal:  a new fish-out-of-water reality TV show.   

Meet Neil and Sophia.  During Rosh Hashana, have these two Jews visit the unfamiliar state of New Mexico.   Have them find the town of Santa Fe nice, but a little touristy.  Have them decide to drive up into the mountains to see the aspen trees changing color for fall.  

But here’s the twist:  These two urbanites are completely inept with the ways of nature.  Neil finds it hard to breathe at high altitudes.  Sophia is terrified when they decide to take a ski lift to the top of a ski slope in order to get a better view of the panorama. 

Here’s the real topper:  While Sophia was brave to go up, she refuses to take the ski lift back down.   The ride made her feel sick to her stomach.

"I’m not going on that thing again."

"What do you suggest — they helicopter us out?"

"We can walk down."

"Walk down?  I can hardly breathe.  And it’ll take us forever!"

"I don’t care.  You take the ski lift.  I’m gonna walk." 

Neil seriously thinks about her offer, then remembers that he is a blogger.  If he wrote that he let a woman walk down a mountain down by herself, what kind of asshole would he look like?  (note:  he never lies in his blog)   What if one day in the future he wanted to sleep with one of his female readers?  It would be a cold night in hell that it would ever happen if he looked like such a wimp.

Neil takes a deep breath and off they go, down the slope.


New twist:  In fifteen minutes, they come to a fork on the trail.  Like the idiots who stay at the haunted house in a a cheapo horror movie, they decide to take this mysterious road, thinking it will be "faster."  Soon, they are lost. 

Now, I know you seasoned campers and adventurers out there are laughing at us, thinking it impossible that two people can get lost five minutes away from a popular ski resort, but that’s what makes this show so special.  It’s "Survivor" meets "Lost" meets "Dumb and Dumber."

Neil and Sophia hear a rustling in the woods.

"What is that?" asks Neil.

Sophia turns back. She starts walking faster.

"It looks like a giant dog.  Don’t look!"

"Do you mean a WOLF?"

"No, just a giant dog."

"What do you mean… a giant dog?  What is a giant dog?"

"A giant dog.  Maybe it has rabies.  Let’s walk fast.  Don’t look at it."

"Why not?"

"I read once that if you see a bear, don’t look at it or if will think it is a challenge."

"I always thought that if you see a bear, you make a lot of noise to scare it away."

"What’s the difference.  It’s a fucking giant dog, not a bear!"

"What are you yelling at me for?  You’re the one who brought up the bear!"

A black Labrador pushes through some shrubbery and walks past us.  He wears a collar and an ID.  Maybe he is the dog of the park ranger.  Whatever he is, he isn’t that big, and he has no interest in us at all.  He wanders past us.  Sophia sighs, relieved.

"I have to pee."

"Do it in the woods."


"Crouch down and pee.  C’mon, let’s pee together.  I have to go too."

Neil and Sophia hide behind a tree and they both pee against it.   Sophia smiles, enjoying the air.

"Now I know why people become nudists.  The mountain air really feels good against your skin."

Recently, Neil’s father passed away.  His uncle told them a story about some doctor friend in the 1950’s who invited them both to a "nudist camp" in Cape May, N.J.  Neil’s uncle said that Neil’s father just stripped down to everything but his Woody Allen glasses and wasn’t ashamed at all.

Neil and Sophia quickly take off their clothes and flash the state of New Mexico.

After the peeing and the flashing, this couple is ready for any adventure.  They are now seasoned nature lovers.  They continue down the mountain, a new found fire in their eyes. 

Sophia knows that Neil feels a little guilty for travelling during Rosh Hashana.  When they reach some sort of abandoned bridge/covering, she has an idea.  They say some traditional prayer and then they walk over the bridge as a symbol of walking from one year to the next.


Neil and Sophia make it back to their Budget Rental Car within two hours.  But in this proposed TV series, they will remain lost for at least 13 episodes.

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