Getting Hitched… Part 1.

So I am sure you may have seen all the stuff on Facebook or Twitter or AirlineReporter.com about our wedding. Well they were just little teasers about it all. Let’s look at how it all went down, It may take a couple of installments but hey it will be worth it.

Heidi & I both agreed that we wanted to get married quickly for a few different reasons.

1. We wanted to make sure that our lives together were protected in case something bad happened
2. We didn’t want to cause any problems with Heidi’s Uni Work. She is in the final year of her Masters and with an upcoming Student Teaching and also the Holiday period at her Job, things could get messy.
3. Why wait?
4. Profit…? (sorry it always seems to be the way to end these kinds of lists).

So we wanted to get married soon, within a two week period. The first thing we did, before anything else (even before I had technically asked Heidi’s dad for permission) was get our marriage license. The state of Washington requires a 72 hour waiting period once this is done, so we just had to do it soon so that we didn’t have complications later. Then the biggest decision was where to get married. Neither of us wanted a big wedding. Did we go down the line of getting married in a park somewhere or the “beach”. Would we be better off getting married in the courthouse? So many options. We started looking around and the Courthouse thing just didn’t seem right, although the easiest, it was a hassle to arrange. Plus I had a friend who could officiate, so that could take away some of the hassles. But where to get married then? King County required a permit to use a park or beach etc for something like that. The prices ranged to as much as $400! All of that for what would be 15-20 minutes at most. PASS!

I had chatted with my friends at Future of Flight jokingly and they suggested if it wasn’t many people, we could get married on the Stratodeck. Sounded good, but I no longer lived up north. Being a south King County person, Everett was a long way to go! So in a random joking kind of way, after having read some stuff about the refurbishment of the 747 at the Museum of Flight being finished, I suggested we get married under it. Heidi being ever so smart said “What if it Rains?” We live in Seattle, it is October, it will probably rain the day of our wedding. Yeah… Very good point. Heidi then solved the problem herself “What if we get married inside the plane?”. I thought to myself “This is why I am marrying this girl!”

So the next morning we were over by Boeing Field. I was off getting a couple of photos of a plane departing BFI:

From Seattle Spotting 2014

That should keep the avgeeks happy.

So Heidi & I popped over to the Museum of Flight to see a contact I have at the Museum. While talking we talked about the 747 and then i dropped the ball. “How about a Wedding Inside the 747?” “Sure, do you know someone who would? “How about us?”. Seeing our contact’s face light up, the gears in her head just turning, it was glorious. We had to keep it quiet as it is a small space and couldn’t do much. So the plans were on, we were super excited at the possibilities of what it could bring, but mainly it was such an iconic venue, how could you not want to do it!

Scary…

Last night driving home across the 520 Bridge in the storm that was raging was pretty scary. The gale force winds were whipping waves up over the floating bridge and crashing down on the road deck. What is normally a 50 mile an hour bridge, was down to 20 or 30 just so you could see things. It was pretty scary, but then so was having to tell Heidi’s father that I wanted to marry her.

This little conversation with Heidi’s dad still had to happen. It was something we had always discussed as Heidi had said that if I was ever to marry her, she would expect to get her fathers blessing first. So we were not officially engaged till I had that conversation. I was dreading this moment, because it is a moment that any man will dread. Having to look the father of the bride in the eyes and say “I would like to marry your daughter”.

Now Heidi’s dad is not that scary. It wasn’t going to pull a gun on me, or threaten me, he just isn’t that person. That didn’t mean that I was as nervous as anything. What if he said no? What if he said that he did not think I was good enough. I don’t know why I was worried because both of Heidi’s parents gave me their blessing but it still had me worried.

Some things in life are scary. I look at life every day and wonder just how I get through things. I was scared to make the step on the plane a couple of years back. I was scared the day I married Heidi. I wanted to make sure that everything I was doing was right. Well in life you can never be certain of anything. You just have to do what is right, do what you think is right. Take the good with the bad and go for it head first.

At least that is how I look at it!

Introducing: Mrs. BigMal

Hi! I’m Heidi. I will be publishing occasionally on this site. You may know me as someone who likes the Seattle Seahawks, cats, and tasty food. I also like Mal kind of a lot. We got married this past weekend.

As Mal has told you, we spontaneously got engaged on a road trip to visit my college roommate. Mal’s grandma’s rings were waiting for me in Australia, but it did not seem right to call ourselves an “engaged couple” without something on my finger. We decided a trip to the mall was in order.

Something to know about me is that I have a lot of social anxiety. This surprises some people, because I am a very friendly person, and I have a very social occupation. One thing that makes me particularly uncomfortable is sales pressure. The last thing I wanted as Mal and I tried to pick out a ring for me was a salesperson in a jewelry store trying to show me a bunch of flashy diamonds that were out of our price range.

We tried looking at the bigger department stores, where there are few-to-no designated jewelry sales staff, but I really was not seeing anything I liked. It became clear that we would need to go to an actual jewelry store if I wanted to find something that would not turn my finger green. So, my roommate came up with an idea. We would pretend to be looking for a ring for our mother’s birthday, and our mother happened to have the same taste and finger shape as me.

This was very effective (at least for relieving my anxiety, if not fooling the saleswoman). I found something acceptable in sterling silver, determined the correct size, and found out they could have it ready by the next day. The problem came when it was time to pay. Mal wanted to buy the ring, but my roommate and I had not exactly worked him into our story. We decided it made the most sense if he was introduced as our brother. It look some fast thinking, but we were able to explain away his accent by claiming that, being the oldest, he had spent many years away from the United States.

So yes, our engagement began with a big, fat lie. But hey, all’s well that ends well. Here is a photo of the silly thing.

Ring

Spokane… Where it all Began

The wedding happened on Saturday and went off great. Heidi & I will update the blog more over the coming days/weeks with more information on that (yes Heidi will now be writing and apparently editing all my poor spelling/grammar mistakes). But let’s take a look back at to where this all began. Heidi & I had planned a trip to Spokane at the end of September. The day we were due to head off was a bit of a tumultuous one at work. I had some discussion with management that caused an unexpected hump.

On our way out to Spokane, Heidi & I discussed our future, we wanted to secure our future better together, I had been planning on asking Heidi to marry me for a couple of months now. I was going to do it while in Japan, either after dinner at the Park Hyatt Tokyo (where we were staying for a couple of nights) or on the flight home from Japan. After discussons on the drive out, we decided it was time we just went and did it. In essence it went with Heidi saying “Lets get married” with me saying “If it is what you want”.

In the end I officially asked Heidi to marry me at the Ryegrass Rest Area. A couple of hours outside Seattle on the I90 heading East (the Eastbound side for anyone who already knows it). Not exactly thrilling but with two people who had been in deep discussion, (possibly in tears along the way) it was more about the question than the location. Not having a ring, Heidi’s original ring was my black ring that I purchased in China a few years ago. This served as her first temporary engagement ring.

The weekend was a really great one visiting Heidi’s friend Jessica. We had a blast doing the Fall things like visiting harvest festival stuff, eating pumpkin this & that. Eating plenty of foods that were bad for us & so much more. I enjoyed running by the river every morning and Heidi ended up winning a decent chunk of cash at the casino (which was about the only good thing about the casino).

We had some fun trying to get Heidi her 2nd temporary engagement ring, and I will let her tell that story. Heidi’s actual engagement & wedding rings are being shipped over from Australia. They were originally from my Grandmother and keeping a historic ring like that in the family is something we both wanted and had discussed for some time. The ring itself unfortunately couldn’t make it over for the wedding (due to hold backs) but we should have it soon enough.

Our trip back from Spokane had a last minute visit, to a place a little more scenic, by the river in Spokane Valley. It was here we got a few photos of the proper on one knee proposal. Although this was the 3rd time that weekend that I had asked Heidi to marry me (the 2nd time was by Spokane Falls after a morning run) this one was photographed by Jessica. I think I will keep this one as a better reminder of when we got engaged.

As we drove home we had plenty of time to discuss more of what was coming. I had some time off work over the coming weeks so it meant that we could move fast in getting things done. We wanted to get married quickly, the sooner the better for both of us. With Heidi returning to University the next day, it meant stress was coming, so the sooner we got things out of the way, the less hassle it would be on Heidi. Also it meant that our futures would be secure. One bit of advice from a friend was “don’t screw around, just get it done, for both your sake”. So that’s what we planned to do. We had also decided at this point to keep things quiet, and under our hat. Keeping things on the down low meant that we were not going to be inundated with people wanting their say etc. The wedding should be about us, not everyone else right?

So I will leave this installment there and let Heidi fill in the gaps about the ring experience (it is a bit of a laugh). More to come!

Spokane Trip

The best day of my life

Today is a special day. I have been fairly quiet online the last few weeks for a good reason, it is for today.  Today I marry the love of my life, my best friend, the person I can spend countless amounts of time with. Yes that is right, I am marrying Heidi today.

From that very first date back in January in a small little cafe in Bellevue to today’s wedding, my life is 1000 times different to how i expected it. I came into this year with so many goals, both travel & personal. But the only one I completed was going on a date. I am surprised that one date led to so many more.

From our second & third dates, my life was destined to be changed. Heidi’s passion & lust for life just opened my eyes to so much. We have so much in common but yet we have so many differences that we always challenge each other & find new things all the time.

As I stand in front of Heidi today, I say how my heart feels & promise to be with her for the rest of my life. I know that as I look in her eyes, I want to spend my life in her arms, with her for every moment. Heidi, I love you.

Over the next week of so you will see more details of the wedding. It is going to be unique, 100% like the both of us!

Number 2!

So this week I managed to get Air Force 2 when it was visiting Seattle. I have spotted Air Force Once twice before (once in MSP and the other in SEA earlier this year, or was it last? I don’t remember) and getting the USAF’s 757 had been elusive. I have shots of their 737s (unpainted) but never the C-32 (which is the Military designation for the 757). I was a bit worried that since it was a South Flow out of Boeing Field that the photos from the Museum of flight (where I had a meeting before the flight took off) would not be any good. Thankfully due to the pilots holding it on the runway until the very last minute, I got some fantastic examples of a typical 757 take off. If it was a fighter it would be called a “Zoom Climb” i reckon.

From Seattle Spotting 2014
From Seattle Spotting 2014
From Seattle Spotting 2014

Unlike the VC-25A (which is the military designation for the 747 that acts as “Air Force One”) the C-32 is a straight 757 bought as if it was a commerical aircraft. No modifications for Air to Air Refueling or jamming equipment & the like. So sorry VP Biden, you are just rolling on a standard 757, albeit a pretty one!

Some Plane Porn for you all

Been doing a lot of Plane Spotting lately so here are some pretty things for you:

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Avianca 787-8

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Avianca 787-8

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Virgin Atlantic 787-9

From Seattle Spotting 2014
From Seattle Spotting 2014

Air China 747-8i

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Etihad 787-9

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Air China 747-8i

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Virgin Atlantic – 787-9

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Ethiopian Cargo – 777F

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Dassault Falcon 2000

More to come later in the week!

A Special Moment

On Monday it became official that I had won a competition. Even though I found out last friday and now posting to you all a week later I figured it was about time to spread the word. A few months back Condor Airlines (part of the Thomas Cook Group of airlines and based in Frankfurt) put out a competition. Submit a photo of one of their aircraft in the new heart livery, or one of their special schemes and you could win $1000 travel voucher.

I had totally forgotten about this competition between when I entered and when I got advised I had made the finals. I am pretty sure I saw this come out on twitter and though, hey I have some photos of condor, why not. I was lucky enough to have gotten one of the special schemes while up in Anchorage back in May. I had a wide range of photos and figured I would enter the one that screams Anchorage. A Take off shot with mountains in the background. It wasn’t my best work but hey, I didn’t expect to win.

I submitted the photo and then totally forgot about it. All the way up till about 2 weeks ago when I got a twitter DM asking me for a copy of the high res version for the finals. I was pretty happy about that, but then last Friday morning I am sitting and work and here twitter go off. I loaded up tweetdeck (since I was at my pc) and see a direct message from Condor saying “Congratulations”. I was shocked, utterly shocked. I had not ever thought I would win and really only submitted that photo because I figured I had nothing better to do. There are far better aviation photographers out there, way better than I am, I have also taken much better photos in my life, but damn was I over the moon. Here is the photo that I submitted

From Anchorage Spotting

Fast forward to Monday and it becomes official. The All Stars page shows my photo and then last night I recieved my voucher in the mail. What prompted this photo was actually another tweet this morning. Condor gave a Friday shout out to everyone and then also changed around there Twitter header to my photo:

Condors Twitter Header

Condors Twitter Header

That to me is a huge honor. Not only did my photo win, but it is now being seen by anyone world wide! The whole thing makes me smile, just looking at that tweet that says they have my photo up. I feel like my hobby actually has a point now. Everyone has always asked why I do it? To be honest I can’t really give an answer that makes people go “wow that is so true”. I do it because I like doing it. I take the photos for me, not really for anyone else. If other people get to enjoy it, great. But this kind of makes me feel special that other people do enjoy my photos, that maybe I am not doing this just for myself but for all the other Avgeeks out there.

This isn’t a “hey i just won $1000 travel voucher” kind of big head post but more of a “hey, I didn’t really realise until now that other people enjoy what I do”. If other people in the world can enjoy my photos, and who knows maybe some of my photos are plastered all up over peoples offices or something, then that makes me feel special because I know that my hobby is more than just a time waster, it is a real hobby. So to all of those Avgeeks out there who wonder if it is worth it, I say to you. It sure is!

LAX Spotting

Last Saturday was awesome for the spotting. I got some amazing shots that I am really happy with. Apart from the car issues it was a good time with friends. But this is what you really want right?

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My first shot of a jetblue Mint A321 in the wild.

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The same for American.

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A British Airways A380

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Continuing the all Airbus Post with a Hawaiian A330.

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Finishing off the Airbus run with the Emirates A380.

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Starting off the Boeing side with some freighter action. ABX Air 767 with a DHL nose.

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Lufthansa 747-8I

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Transaero 767-300ER heading back to Russia.

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Etihad 777-200LR heading back on the long flight to the middle east.

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Southwest’s New Mexico One.

But the piece d’resistance Hello Kitty Sanrio Family arriving from Taipei.

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Drama!

I was going to spare my readers on another trip report down to LAX for a same day turn. I mean how boring could it be considering all I went down for was to take photos of planes, hang out with friends and eat some In n Out. I will still post the plane photos when I get around to doing them (there are lots of them, and I am still working on Dallas photos yet). However Saturday didn’t go entirely as planned with my rental car, so let me explain.

I like renting from National Car Rental. They have good service, they allow me to pick and choose whatever car I want from the lot and the rates are pretty good. My rental in LAX for the day is usually $30 all in (the taxes in LAX are beyond stupid) and I usually get a full size car, of very good quality. In the past I have had Challengers, Maximas, Chrysler 300Cs, GMC Terrain, Chevy Equinox, Mustangs, Camaros and also a Hyundai Genesis that had all of 20 miles on the clock (i put it to 28 by the end of my day with it). I have only once had a problem with a car with them and that was a Chevy Equinox that had a tyre pressure sensor issue, but that was also probably due to the humidity in Wisconsin in the summer. They gladly swapped it out for me without a hassle.

So fast forward to Saturday. Looking forward to what is on the line in LAX when I roll up and there is a lot of Full Size Sedans to choose from. There was the occasional Tahoe, Yukon and Arcadia, but mostly it was Impalas. Both the LT & the fancier LTZ version. I went with a California Plated LTZ (I thought I grabbed the Texas plated one, I was wrong). It was a pretty nice ride. Leather seats, power everything, even a GPS sat nav that was disabled. Pretty damn good looking to:

From Dorkfest 2014

It handled the morning pretty well. After picking it up, I rolled back over to LAX and picked up Jason, then we headed off to Proud Bird for some spotting before heading over to the Ralph’s (aka Safeway)/CVS before heading over to In n Out. Parked up at In N Out (after stopping to get some water at CVS) around 11am and it was in a prime spot, right out front. From that moment on, we didn’t touch it for several hours. Here it is sitting on the street outside In n Out

From Dorkfest 2014

After scoffing down a burger around 130pm in between plane arrivals. We were betting on what was going to happen with the All Blacks 777 due to come in. It normally goes to the South Runway but a lot of the heavies were coming north that day. It was all over the place craziness and Jason, John & I flipped a coin (well Lens Cap really) to see if we would stay or head off to Proud Bird to grab the photos. It ended up saying we had to move, so off to the car I went with the boys in tow. Since I was the one who knew where to go, I was driving. Get in the Impala (and this is a version with the touch to start button), push start and expect to start driving away. Nope! Car wouldn’t start at all. It just would not turn over. Tried to get it to fully shut off (but of course being that there is no where to actually put the key it is a bit difficult) and I couldn’t. No matter what I tried it just wouldn’t kick over.

I told Jason & John to head off and I would catch up when I could. I called National and they said that they would have to come tow my car. No way to send someone to just come fix it, it would have to be towed back to the depot and replace it. The stupid thing is, I was barely a mile from the depot! I could freaking run there! (I did consider it). The kicker of the whole thing was that the National Car Rental staff told me it would take 90 minutes for a tow truck. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! An hour and a half to wait for a tow truck. When I could run to the damn depot and get a new car faster than that. I tried a few more times to get it started and it wouldn’t work, so I succumbed to the pressure. I called National back and tried to work out if there was a better way for me to get a new car faster. They told me that since I was so close to the depot. If I went back with the keys, I could swap it out for a new car and they would send someone out to get it later. Awesome! Pulled up Uber and they had cars 3 minutes away! So as I requested the car and hurridly packed all my crap up, things went from bad to worse. The Uber driver called and told me that unless I was in the terminal, he wasn’t going to come get me. Which was stupid because I was right next to the airport! So i cancelled the Uber order and re requested, got him again! Tried an UberX this time and the app kept locking up,so just as I was about to try restarting my phone, a friend came over. He saw me having problems and then right about that second the Tow Truck shows up. SAVED!

By this time I was way frustrated, had enough. Jason & John decided they would come get me and then another friend was calling me to find out where I was. It meant that I didn’t really need a car now and after a total of 5 miles this morning in the new car, and by this stage, barely 3 more hours with it before I had to go back to the terminal, I just wanted to get rid of it.

From Dorkfest 2014
From Dorkfest 2014

More fun times back at the National lot as the Tow Truck driver had no idea where to take it, and to be honest, neither did I. It was just a comedy of errors! I was so over it, so by the time I got back to the lot, the first staff member who was getting me a receipt, well I said “I’d like a full refund please” To which I got “I can’t process that, you will need to go upstairs. So off I went, but the lines were huge. REALLY huge. Wouldn’t stand that, considering they would ask for a Duty Manager anyway so that’s what I did. Pointed out into the parking lot to get the duty manager, to which he promptly gave me his card, took my rental receipt and details and said he would get it fixed.

So now the waiting game begins to see if this gets fixed and refunded. Will I stop booking with National? Nope probably not. Will I drive a Chevy Impala again, not unless I am forced to! I guess it happens to everyone eventually. In the end of the day I still got some pretty awesome photos, had a blast with my friends in LAX and came home to Seattle, sunburnt with 1200 photos and super tired. All in all a pretty decent day, Drama non withstanding.