5 of 6 787-9s

Yesterday I managed to add the 4th of 5 flying 787-9s that are out and about in Seattle and around the world (only 1 has been delivered to Air New Zealand). So here they are:

#1: ZB001 – Boeing Test Flights (going to Air New Zealand Eventually)

From Seattle Spotting 2014

#2: ZB002 – Boeing Test Flights (going to Air New Zealand eventually)

From Seattle Spotting 2013

#3: ZB789 – Don’t have this one yet, but it will go to JAL (next on my hunt list)

#4: ZB197 – All Nippon Airways

From Seattle Spotting 2014

#5: ZB167 – United

From Seattle Spotting 2014

#6: ZB003 – Air New Zealand – ZK-NZE – All Blacks Livery (Already Delivered)

From Seattle Spotting 2014

Hiking Time!

On Sunday Heidi took me for my first Hike in the PNW. Something that she really enjoys to do, and something I rarely do but can and will do (or more like should do), hiking is something we talked about, but never got around to doing until now. Wanting to avoid the crowds, since it’s July and it’s blue outside, we headed to a trail that was recommended to us by Heidi’s dad. Otter Falls was the destination but the guide book didn’t tell us of the fact that we were not looking for the “Otter Falls” trail but the “Snoqualmie Lake” trail.

Either way, we had a good time, but rather than bore you with details of “We Walked through trees without too much of a problem” (ok we did get lost a bit at the start) here are the pictures instead:

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

Clumsy Mal

How is it that after running for over 3 years now and not falling over at all, after endless kilometres that I wake up this morning and when I am about 3/4 way through my run (about 1.5km from home) I stack it? I am a clumsy person, I am covered in scars and burns and cuts and abrasions, but till now, I had not stacked it at all. I managed to this morning fall flat on my face but I got up within 1 second and kept going as though everything was fine (dripping blood down my leg though). I tripped on a small piece of pavement that I ran over last week without a problem, so what the hell is wrong with me!

When I was training for Kokoda, I fell over countless times while trekking up and down Mt Cootha. There was not a session that went by where I was not flat on my ass at least once, and it was as though the training was not complete till I had stacked it somehow. Many a time on Kokoda itself I was expecting to go head first down a mountain. I think one of my problems is my lack of balance, I can’t even stand up straight without almost falling over sometimes, so how can I expect to be able to run without a problem?

I don’t know how badly this fall this morning is going to effect my running (my knee is currently strapped up to ensure that the chunk missing doesn’t go all over my jeans today at work) but hopefully I can keep going. Guess who is going to be doing weights in the gym tonight…

THIS GUY!!!!!

*** Funnily enough, I was wearing my Kokoda shirt this morning during my run. So maybe it was just a Kokoda fall come back to haunt me? ***

July the 4th…

On Friday it was the 4th of July and that means one thing here in the USA, Public Holiday!!! Being on a Friday made it even more sweet as it was a 3 day weekend and it would have been perfect had Heidi not had to work in the afternoon, but we made the most of it! In the morning I convinced Heidi to go for a ride with me. However I was thinking around the lake somewhere, nice and flat. But since we had dog duty over the weekend (Heidi’s parents were out of town so someone had to check on the animals) a ride down near Federal Way was smarter. Heidi assured me there was somewhere nice and flat called the BPA Trail. Sounds fine to me, even if it was a little bit short. Well it was short, and it wasn’t flat. There was some DAMN large hills on that trail and it almost killed me. At a total ride of 8.5km (we had to take the long way back as they shut the trail for a fun run) it was shorter than my usual 10km, but the giant hills made up for it (I was on my lowest gear and still struggling up that hill!).

After the ride and some breakfast, Heidi decided to take me off to experience some fireworks, my first real fireworks experience in the USA. 4th of July has a reputation for partying pretty hard with lots of fireworks involved. So even though fireworks are illegal in certain parts of Seattle (Renton being one of them), just a short drive from our house is the Muckleshoot Reservation, where anything goes! You know you are getting close when the queue of cars stretches out to a mile, and you can hear constant explosions going off. I was giddy like a school girl! This was refferred to by some as “Boom Alley” or the “Muckleshoot Fireworks Avenue”, but to me it was like Sideshow Alley at the Ekka, only replace dodgy games with EXPLOSIVES!

I had a blast scoping out some of the craziness and then Heidi took us to the one store she always went to, where they knew her by site (and her dad who holds a pretty decent reputation for dropping loads of cash on fireworks) where we got a decent sized range for the $10 investment. We let off all sorts of goodies in the pit and in the end, I got to almost blow my hand off, get a firework shot at me from someone else and have the beejeebus scared out of me after realising something we were told had a pretty hefty boom (it was smaller than a 250ml soda can), which we didn’t believe, almost felt like it was going to knock me over.

I had a blast (pun intended) at the Fireworks pit and after I dropped Heidi off at work, the rest of my day went into nothingness really. It was just same old same old (I did get to finish my Anchorage photos) really. The best part of my day was those fireworks and I know a lot of people got them, because from about 8pm till I went to sleep around 11pm it was non stop. It got a lot stronger after 10pm when the sun went down. But hey, that’s the fourth of July for ya!

Finally Completed!!!

On Friday night on the 4th of July (which that day deserves a whole other post on its own) I finally managed to finish off all photos from my trip to Anchorage at the end of May. Yes I said May… it has seriously taken over a month to get all of these done. Mind you I did move houses in that time, so the house move did have priority, however it still took a decent amount of time. I was working on photos during my lunch breaks from work remotely. I was working late into the night some nights just continuously working on photos. In the end I culled down the 7500 photos I took, down to 368 photos in the finished album. That is around a 5% ratio, which while lower than my normal, well it is better than nothing. Now that I have all of them on my site, there is the daunting task of getting them up on Aviation Photographic, so Kevin (the owner) will have a rough time going through them all once I get them uploaded. But no more talk… Avgeek Porn time!

From Anchorage Spotting

A China Southern 777F having water sucked into its engine while it waits for its turn to take off

From Anchorage Spotting

An Everts Cargo DC-6 getting ready for takeoff

From Anchorage Spotting

The Alaska Starliner, more commonly known as the Retro Livery. I have chased this thing since i caught my first glimpse in 2009!

From Anchorage Spotting

A Condor 767 taking off in front of the Anchorage Mountains

From Anchorage Spotting

A G650, what I can easily say is a stunning example of a Business Jet

From Anchorage Spotting

A Southern Air 747-400F with a Beacon flashing while it turns onto the Active.

Want more? Full folder can be found here

Anchorage Spotting

Flying Non Rev… aka Stress Class

Over the weekend on my short little trip to Legoland, I flew Non Rev (or Non Revenue) for the first time. Heidi gets the occasional Buddy Pass and I used one to head down to San Diego. This is not a “O M G how can he complain for flying extremely cheaply somewhere” kind of post, but more a reality of using Buddy Passes kind of thing.

I had never flown Non-Rev before and I don’t really know if I would again. I totally understand the purpose of it, and I am sure for those who use them all the time, they love it. But for me… not again…. maybe. I found the whole process when it works as great. On the way down there were heaps of spare seats and we were at the bottom of the list of like maybe half a dozen people. No issues! Managed to score an exit row seat too! But coming back… lordy lordy.

Coming back from San Diego after a long weekend exploring, eating, having fun and getting royally sun burnt, was a new experience for me. I had never really been in a situation where I had no confirmed seats to get home. At all. The Standby Lists were long, over 20 on the our first option, and again on our next. Our last resort, the last flight of the day was wide open, but that was something I didn’t want to contemplate.

After checking in for our first flight, the ideal option, it did not look good. 9 open seats, 20 on the list and I was number 18 on the list. Not a chance! I asked about checking to see if there were other options to get me home via another city (There was a Portland connection that might work) but unfortunately that was no good. While the San Diego to Portland was wide open, the connecting flight up to Seattle was not, so that was out. Resolution, go for the later flight and suck up the extra 90 minute wait.

The second flight was getting closer and closer. 20 on the list, I am in space 15 and there was 16 seats. Dear god it is going to be close. What I didn’t want was a couple of paying passengers to get bumped from another flight. That would not end well at all as they would take priority over any non rev (including me!) and I would lose my spot. The flight boarded and as I waited, people started to clear the waitlist. I waited, and waited. People were making the flight, as people were called they somehow appeared out of no where, making the flight. It came down to the last few seats. Boarding was about to finish, they were getting ready to close the flight and send us on our way. But then they called me, I could go home!!! I scurried onboard with my bag (which they told me I didn’t have to gate check, they would find space onboard, and they did… in first class) and took my middle seat. Happy to be homeward bound.

So in reality flying on a Buddy Pass or Non Rev has it’s ups and downs. Often in comparison to full fares, it is a huge saving and it means you can go just about anywhere you want and may even score an Exit Row or Bulkhead. But the downsides are pretty big too. You may have to play Non Rev Roulette in the hope of getting home, you may end up with the seats no one else wants… the dreaded Middle or you may not end up at home at all! In this instance it was a good last minute trip, however in comparison to a trip booked on a heavily discounted fare, the savings would not be all that much. But hey… at least it would be a confirmed seat right?

Life Updates – Busy/Lazy Mal

Boy what a week. I haven’t been posting much as of late due to work & life. The big move is all over (thank God!) and I am slowly settling into my new apartment in Renton. I love the new place but since last Friday I have had the worst luck ever.

Let’s roll back to this time last week. I was heading back to the old place last Friday to clean up the apartment & do some stuff to hand the keys back. Well that was all well & fine, but I left so many things behind. I was going to “feed the bird” while I was up there since I had no TV & no Internet to keep me entertained in an empty apartment (sleeping on the air mattress was interesting enough) but I left the Bluebird card at home. I also left all my tools, several cleaning items and probably my brain as well.

Saturday was hell on earth. The cleaning took forever & just generally was tedious & a giant waste. I shampooed the carpets with a “Rug Doctor” that we hired & cost us about $50 all up, and took over an hour & a half to do the apartment. Only to find out that the apartment complex’s rules were if it wasn’t done professionally, they charged you to do it again, even if it was spotless. Should have just not wasted my time & let them charge me.

Saturday also was horrendous in the morning. While out for a failed attempt at getting a photo of FiFi, the world’s only flying B29, in the air my camera broke…. Big time. It was resting on the side of the bed of my truck driver for the first time ever, just took a topple off the top. The camera split at the mounting point & my life seemingly broke with it. I prayed to god that it could be fixed. Taking it to a camera store on Sunday (since I didn’t end up having time on Saturday) they managed to save the lens, with no damage, but the camera will require extensive repairs. So there’s a new expense :(

So fast forward to Tuesday night. Just locking up for the night, about to go to bed. I turn the lock in the door from the inside and rather than stopping when the bolt is in place the knob just snaps &  keeps on turning! I am now locked inside my own apartment, late at night and in a new area. Joy!  I managed to dismantle the lock enough to open it and allow myself to actually get out, but the lock was pretty much toast.  It couldn’t be used & was practically worthless. I called the apartment emergency line (still waiting for that call back) and left a message, then I called a locksmith. All while texting Heidi with a general theme of “What the hell just happened & what do I do!”  I was working blind but eventually close to 11pm the locksmith came, gave the official death certificate for the lock, replaced it & headed out.

Not enough drama for the week? Never! Wednesday night I received a new credit card to the apartment. It was delivered to the office but since I wanted to get it ASAP, so I could make minimum spend (New camera to buy remember, although that will be a future post), I stupid asked them to leave the package at my door so I could grab it when I get home. No package though when I do.

No one to blame but me, as it was left & was either taken or perhaps mistook for trash & thrown out, but after confirming with the office Thursday my worst fears, I  had to call the credit card company to cancel the card to replace it, before it was even activated! Sigh! At least they are overnighting the replacement to me (this time to my work address) so I can use it.

Hopefully this weekend will see a better improvement in life. I am flying down to San Diego tomorrow morning at Sparrows Fart (or as Heidi calls it “the ass crack of dawn”) for the first time. Flying stand by on passes will be an interesting article I think, especially booking stuff on the fly. Car, hotel etc all while at 35000ft. Bring on the travel and hopefully some better luck!

Moving….. pt 1

So over the weekend I packed up my apartment and with the help of Dan, David, David, Temo & of course Heidi. I moved from the North end of town, to the South End of town. It was quite the adventure but went actually a lot easier than I expected. I had figured that it would take most of the day, but David (DPB) brought with him the other David & Temo and that made things so much easier. DPB was also driving the Uhaul that I rented and that really helped me get things working.

I moved down to Renton for a number of reasons:

1. To be closer to Heidi
2. It is closer (in relative distance) to work
3. To be closer to Heidi
4. Rent was going up, had to move anyway
5. Community Transit (the bus line run by Snohomish County) is crap and I wanted out
6. To be closer to Heidi

Funny thing is the place I moved to was an apartment complex I looked at a couple of years ago when I first moved here, but it has been improved since. The first morning I checked out the gym (after the really quick tour when we went to look at it) was me falling in love all over again. The gym was amazingly set up and after a day of moving stuff around, something different sounded good.

The funny thing with the moving day, was when I moved into my old apartment, it rained that morning. Wake up on Saturday morning up in Bothell. Well it was raining! Tradition continues!! But it stopped raining and we managed to empty the apartment fairly quickly. With that the procession of two cars, a truck and a uhaul headed south. Even though when we arrived they didn’t have any “carts” (trolleys to us Australian’s) to borrow (4 other apartments were moving in that day) 4 guys and 1 girl easily moved everything into the apartment in a relatively quick time frame. I was suprised just how quickly it went.

After getting some beer & pizza as the traditional american moving payment, the uhaul truck procession headed back north to drop off the uhaul and i headed back to the apartment for a secondary load of other random stuff. By the end of the weekend all of my stuff was moved in and the apartment is in relatively decent shape (liveable at least).

I still have a bit of a way to go for the apartment to grace the pages yet (nothing on the walls really, plenty of boxes still to be unpacked) but it is getting there. When it is all up and running I will definitely post some pictures, because the apartment is much better than I anticipated.

Trip Report – To the Last Frontier: Conclusion

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

My trip to Alaska was something I desperately needed on many levels. I had a big yearning to fly as so far this year up until this trip, I had flown 0 miles. For someone who flew over 60,000 miles last year, I was desperate. I just wanted to get up there again. This trip also allowed me to tick Alaska off my state list. Even though it was only a short trip, it allows me to plan on heading back there in the future.

Even though the weather was crap for most of the time, I still enjoyed myself. I stuck it out in the rain for a good portion of the day and just kept taking photos. I would have done the same back here, had I still been in the city (speaking of which I missed a test flight of the Air New Zealand 787-9 because I was playing around in the rain, I just can’t get that thing!).

The flight up was down right horrible (thanks to a crappy crew who didn’t seem to care and also the delay and the WiFi issue (All of which I have made complaints about, but nothing so far). The flight back though was the total opposite, so how United can get away with being Day & Night differences, I don’t know. But it also shows that any airline can be good or bad. United gets a bum wrap at times, and this time I can’t really fault them all that much for the return flight. Having an entire row of 6 to myself, exit row as well! Can’t be all that bad.

The hotel in Anchorage did it’s job. It wasn’t flash or luxurious, but it was close to the airport and exactly what I needed to get me through. I wouldn’t ask for anything more than a clean room, a gym, WiFi & some parking. Anything more than that is just more frosting on the cake.

All told I took over 7588 photos of just planes over the weekend. The processing of these is going to take some time, that is for sure. I don’t quite know how long but I usually budget about 10% of photos taken, make it out of the cull. What does that really mean… I am going to be working on these for quite some time!