Travelling

now browsing by category

 

Staycation 2014…

Since I had been planning to run the Vancouver Half Marathon and I wasn’t able to get any leave any time soon, so that I wouldn’t go stir crazy I figured why not have a bit of a staycation. For those that don’t know a Staycation is a vacation in your own city. Stay a night in a Hotel in your own city, explore it like your a tourist, have fun and enjoy yourself. Considering I still haven’t really explored this city, it was appropriate right? Heidi also agreed that we should have some touristy fun. I won’t go into to in depth of a trip report, mainly because a lot of it is just boring but let it be said that we picked the hotel purely so that I could give Kimpton another shot and also open up the use of the free nights (which are not all that helpful this year as it turns out you only have free night options in either Savannah or Miami). Out of the 3 Kimpton hotels in Seattle we went with the Monaco.

We started off the weekend by me suprising Heidi with a mystery. Originally planned for Sunday afternoon but since the weather was crap, I decided to move it up. We headed down into Sodo for the Google Glass event. Showcasing the Google Glass was pretty cool, I had always wanted to see what it really was but after experiencing I wouldn’t buy one. It just isn’t my thing. Bonus though we got a photo together and add in the free food and drink on offer and it was a good morning.

From Life in Seattle 2014

After checking into the hotel (and being told the room wasn’t ready) and leaving the truck up in the International District (also convenient to grab a cheap lunch of Bahn Mi’s for $3 each!), we did a walking tour of Pioneer Square. Picked up from Howaboutwe.com for free and through Stray Boots which controls it all like a scavenger hunt via a phone app. It was good and i had my first experience of a Utilikilt

From Life in Seattle 2014

Weirdest thing about the scavenger hunt was having to go into some stores and do stuff without buying anything. Felt kind of awkward, but it was still pretty fun. After the scavenger hunt we recollected the truck and parked it down by Belltown and picked up some gelati on the way back.. yeah it was a voucher again obtained for free so why not! We shared a cone on the way back and had a bit more for later stashed away. We got back to the Monaco and checked in. The hotel is definitely Kimpton. Small, Boutique and unique as well, it was a great looking hotel. We grabbed our bags and headed up to the room:

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

The room was great, would of preffered a view in the other direction, but hey can’t have everything right? The room was what is called a “Junior Suite” in America. More an overly large room with some form of barrier between the “sitting room” and the “bedroom” which in this case was some fabric curtains. There was two things missing when we arrived, the in room amenity and the goldfish. Kimpton has a great perk for some travellers who get lonely. They will place a goldfish in the room to keep you company. Heidi loved this idea and just had to have one, eventually the fish was delivered and we met our new friend Charles:

From Life in Seattle 2014

He was a great little companion, didn’t say much but he was always there swimming around (and also seemed to be constantly taking a dump, any time we turned around… I’ve never seen a fish poop so much!). The in room amenity was also delivered but it was wrong. I won’t go into the whole situation to much but after the stay I emailed the hotel as they dropped the ball big time on this. Turns out they gave my Inner Circle ammenity to someone else. Big Big ball drop on that but it could of happened on any stay.

We stuck around the hotel for a little bit, went out for a walk as well and just generally relaxed and enjoyed things. When it was time for dinner we lost track of time and while trying to get around some technology issues that had cropped up we ended up missing our dinner reservation and were late getting back to the truck before the time ran out on the parking (Thanks Uber for the free ride!). By that stage we didn’t feel like even going to the restaurant we had planned and due to all the stress we just couldn’t make up our minds what we wanted to have. We drove around Capitol Hill trying to find a park but couldn’t, in the end we gave up and headed to 13 coins for dinner. It was old school, not so cheap but pretty filling. The counter seats were pretty amazing (not that we were able to be seated at them):

From Life in Seattle 2014

After a dinner that had the most amazing cream sauce (yeah I went not even remotely healthy) we headed back to the hotel for a quiet night in. Sunday was a little bit less stressful thankfully. We woke up at a reasonable time and rather than stick around the hotel since we had changed our plans around, we checked out before breakfast and headed up to Ballard for breakfast at Skillet with Dan & Shawna. Skillet Diner is probably one of my most favourite places to eat and with a location in Ballard that is bigger, easier to find parking and still the same food, well… only this would happen:

From Life in Seattle 2014

The Cinnamon roll was pretty amazing and the frosting so good that I ended up doing this (And getting shameful looks for doing so)

From Life in Seattle 2014

Heidi had the Biscuits and Gravy which looked pretty good

From Life in Seattle 2014

After Skillet, Heidi took me down to the Ballard locks as I had never been there before, sadly no Salmon in the ladder though but there was plenty of boats in the locks though

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

After the locks it was time to meet the Grandparents and pick up a chair for Heidi (hey the Truck got some real usuage) and before we knew it, Staycation was over and it was back to reality.

From Life in Seattle 2014

Staycation was a great idea and it was something we both needed, a way to relax (at times) and try and just forget about our lives for one weekend. Plus getting to play around downtown without the stress of driving home or worrying about times or anything like that is worth it on so many levels. The whole weekend was good and we should do it again sometime in the future. Maybe a weekend in LA is next… god knows I need to fly this year!

Circle Work

On Friday, I got a message from the lovely Heidi suggesting we go to Ocean Shores with her family on Sunday. Ocean Shores is down on the Olympic Peninsula, a part of the state that I have not been to. So I agreed to it, and so plans were made. Being that we wanted to explore a little more there was decisions as to who was going to drive. Of course Heidi knows where she is going and has a car that doesn’t eat gas like the Ram does, so i mean that would be the obvious choice right? Well in Ocean Shores your allowed to drive on the nice big wide beaches… and if you find somewhere that has a bit of open space…. well, that was the deciding factor. Ram it is!!

So Sunday rolls around and we head on down to Ocean Shores. We make good time and spend some time relaxing by the water. Of course my first time driving on Sand was a bit wierd and thankfully there was a 25 mph speed limit so I wasn’t watching as people were doing 100mph or more on the beach. What I wanted to find though was a nice big empty piece of sand. I found it and my first attempt at a bit of circle work was really disappointing. It was just so… boring. Something wasn’t right.

After a break off the sand to pick up a few drinks and some snackage (since Heidi’s family had actually thought ahead and brought most of the food), I had a good thought… Traction control off…. well that made all the difference

So as you can see, I finally got to do some donuts on the sand in the end I had quite the amount of fun…

From Life in Seattle 2014

But it wasn’t all about the truck and the sand, it was about spending time with Heidi & her family… something I really enjoyed.

From Life in Seattle 2014

Getting to know them a bit better was worth the day and Ocean Shores was a great day out. The weather was fantastic (even if the wind picked up a little) and I got to see some of Heidi’s family history from around that area as well. I even got to see a house one of her relatives grew up in (I think it was Great Grandmother… I forget). Then to top off a pretty awesome day… I got to try Yak for the first time:

From Life in Seattle 2014

That is a Yak Patty Melt and it was pretty tasty. Like Buffalo but a tiny bit more gamey, a good dinner. Though I would of liked to finish it off with one of these

From Life in Seattle 2014

I am sure I will be heading back to Ocean Shores again soon, maybe a weekend out of it this time. Some sunset shots by the beach though… o and more circle work!

Looking Back & Looking Forward – Goals in 2013 & 2014

Each year I set myself goals for the year ahead. These are not “resolutions” as that is just a way of saying “i should do this” where as a goal to me has an end and feels more like an achievement. I tend to set two different kinds of goals, I have my fitness goals and I have my travel goals. In 2013 my travel goals and my fitness goals were fairly ambitious (at least to me). Some people may not think so but well, they are my goals anyway.

So for 2013 I set my goals and to be honest I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. I didn’t complete all my travel goals but i did complete everything else.

So for my Travel Goals I did requalify for Virgin Australia gold, and managed to do that after 2 mileage runs and a trip back to Australia. I did get to spend a good amount of time at OshKosh and I am extremely happy with that week off in July. A truly happy and amazing experience.

Then there was the goal to explore more of my own new home state. I did this in two parts with a trip out to Yakima with Dan & Shawna to go cherry picking and also the last minute (like on Monday) trip on the ferry to the Kitsap Peninsula. I did also drive down to Portland for a weekend back in May but that doesn’t count cause it is technically another state :P But it was fun none the less. The only Travel goal I didn’t complete was to use up the remainder of my Qantas points. I had been banking them for something I have planned this year hopefully but time will tell.

I did however complete all my fitness goals for 2014. I had set myself the goals of competing in two 5ks here in Seattle, the 10k at the Marine Corp Marathon and also the Triathlon. All were completed successfully and I was impressed with my times for each and every single one of them.

My two 5ks in Seattle:

Then there is the Triathlon

And the 10K for the Marine Corp Marathon

But what about my goals for 2014? Well that is pretty simple, but I am going to break it down to 3 parts this year Personal, Fitness & Travel.

My Travel goals for 2014 are:

* Return to Japan
* Visit Maho Beach
* Singapore Suites
* Lufthansa First Class

Ambitious for the last one, but I have enough points to do it, it is just going to be a matter of timing.

My Fitness Goals for 2014 is just one:

* Half Marathon

It’s a big one, and I am sure I can do it, but anything else will just pail in comparison. Essentially doubling my longest ever run and more will be nuts, it is going to take a lot of preparation for it, but I am in for a challenge. Not sure which one I am going to do yet (depends where I am I guess) but I will do it!

My Personal goals for 2014 are where what would normally been mixed into one of the other two categories I want to do this to challenge myself some more I guess. These goals are also something that I think if I put them out there it makes me more accountable. So my personal goals for 2014 are:

* Jump out of a plane
* Go on at least 1 date
* Get my weight back to pre USA levels and keep it there!

The first one is pretty crazy but I have been working towards it. I don’t really want to do it as a tandem but I will do what I have to do. I would rather do it as a Free Fall and deploy my own chute (my friend Dan has done it that way) but I will take it anyway I can. The other two are definately something I wouldn’t normally put out there but I need to make myself accountable for it!

So there you have it my goals for this year are out there, I can’t go back on it now!

Riding the Washington State Ferries

So as part of a goal I had set out to explore more of my own home state and running out of time I figured I should get on one of the Washington State Ferries after being told time after time I should do just that. Considering that I had a day off today (and tomorrow to) and the weather was marginally better than yesterday I figured what the hell. Time to head out. After reading The Hunt for Red October recently and knowing that the Pacific Northwest has some history with Sumbarines (Naval Station Kitsap is home to a number of Nuclear Subs) I figured a trip on the ferries over to the Kitsap Peninsula and a visit to the Naval Undersea Museum.

It was a good day out and although not that long (I was back to Seattle by 4pm) still interesting. The Ferries were a first for me as I had never driven onto a ferry, even back home in Australia. So it was a pretty cool experience. The Edmonds to Kingston ferry (which leaves about a 10-15 minute drive from my place) is only about 20 minutes long onboard so that was pretty short and after exploring the ferry itself I retreated to the warmth of the truck and read my book.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

By the time we hit the Kitsap I was ready to get moving and over to the Naval Undersea Museum and check out a few things, even the replica DSRV they used in the Movie of the book that was bringing me there. The Museum wasn’t bad and I was there about an hour or so.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

After that I drove down to Bremerton to check out the Puget Sound Naval Museum before jumping the ferry back home to Seattle. Thankfully the two were next to each other:

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

An hour on the Ferry home to Seattle and then it’s back on the road, back home after a pretty awesome Day.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

Looking Back at 2013 – Fun & Memories – Part 2

I ran through my fun memories of the first half of 2013 in this post and here are the last half:

July

In July I had a chance to go tripping in summer with my friends Shawna & Dan as they showed me a little bit of their home. I had a blast as we went Cherry picking and I got to see parts of Washington I had not seen. I got to use the Truck for its intended purpose of hauling stuff around. I Also had another dream fulfilled when I got to step foot in OshKosh for the EAA Airventure.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From AirVenture 2013

August

In August while I was in OshKosh I got the chance to accompany a group of Vietnam Veterans on an Honor Flight to Washington DC. Words can not express exactly how amazing this day was and how many memories I have from it. Being the month of my Birthday there was lots of celebrations and a few friends came to visit. Another memorable experience was getting to see my parents as they were stopping in Vancouver for a brief visit. It was a great weekend (though only brief) and getting to spend more than 3 hours with my family was a memory I will not forget.

From EAA Honor Flight
From EAA Honor Flight
From Fiona's Visit
From Fiona's Visit
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver

September

September saw my friend Yena come over to visit, (though she was here for the last couple of days of August as well but he, it counts) and getting to spend Labor Day weekend with a great friend and showing her my new home town and having some old school shenanigans like old times was great (like licking a GE90 to win a $20 bet). A memory I will not soon forget. September was also the month I had trained long and hard for. I competed in my first Triathlon, a Super Sprint distance event in Woodinville for the “Cottage Lake Tri” and I did so much better than I expected.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

October

Work got really busy towards the end of September but for most of October I actually spent my time in New Zealand, a good portion of the month actually. I was down there for training and the AOT Megafamil. I probably had what I think was my best famil ever and I enjoyed every minute of it. I met some amazing people, had a blast of a time and truly made friends who I hope to keep in touch with for quite some time. I also did some pretty stupid things, like Jump off a building or go on a giant canyon swing (without the canyon though) all to combat a fear. After getting back from New Zealand I jetted back east for a couple of days to Run my 2nd 10K race ever. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon 10K, something I had wanted to do for quite some time. If and when I ever get up to a full marathon, I want that race to be there as it felt like one of most amazing events I have seen.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K

November & December

November was a tough month, No real travel, nothing happening really. There was thanksgiving which I spent at home but it was all work. I needed to get back to work after spending so much time off. I did manage to skip out to Kansas City for the start of December for my $100 challenge which I won and then the snowpocalypse happened as well towards the end of month. A pretty cool thing to experience for the second time in a year

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

It has been a year of ups and downs, both good and bad, but I have had a blast and have some memories that will last a life time. To my friends old & new who I have shared moments with this year, Thank you for making this year truly special.

Looking Back at 2013 – Fun & Memories – Part 1

After my post earlier in the week on my travels during 2013 I wanted to go back and talk about some of my favourite memories and fun moments from 2013. Some of these are travel related, but a lot of them are from around here in Seattle and surrounds. The easiest way to go through them is to do it month by month, there are quite a few I wanted to go through so this is going to be a photo heavy post.

January

Not much happened in January other than being here in Seattle but the more fun part was escaping south to Los Angeles for a bit of sun, warmth and getting my first photos at an iconic location, Randys Donuts.

From Artistic 2013

But the reason I was here was to get photos like this:

From LAX Spotting 2013

Where else can you get planes flying through a donut? January was also Australia Day back home, and over here it meant my friends having some fun with that by taking me to Outback Steakhouse for a true “Aussie” experience. While it was far from being authentic it was still a fun night.

February

February was the month of my first Superbowl here in the USA and a friend came to visit me that weekend, though I didn’t go out to any Superbowl parties, I did get to enjoy it on my couch, in real time, with the ads. A REAL american experience! My biggest fun memory from February was over Presidents Day weekend, my first Aviation Geek Fest, I was looking forward to it so much and after helping to organise it along with David and Sandy, it was going to be a big weekend. It was fun and I had a blast and I can’t wait for next year to do it all over again.

From Aviation Geek Fest 2013
From Aviation Geek Fest 2013

March

More work in march and the second half of my mileage running but the first dumping of snow in Seattle I was to ever experience was pretty much my biggest memory from this month

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

Pretty amazing yet scary experience for me at the same time

April

In April I headed home to Australia for a wedding and it was great to catch up with my friends. I also got to experience my first real First Class flights and that was truly a memory I will never forget.

From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under

May

In May I had my first experience of a Road Trip in the truck on my own when I drove down to Portland for a weekend and I also travelled out to New York for Memorial Day to do some stuff with Delta but to mainly try Cathay First Class. The big ticket item that month was the Paine Field Aviation Day. I smashed my time in the Annual Fly Day 5k and set a new 5K PB, which I was super happy with (though it lead to a very bad memory in the end) and I had a blast with my friends watching the good stuff in the air that day.

From PDX Road Trip
From PFAD 2013
From Memorial Day Firsts

June

Well, June was truly epic. Barely days after getting home from New York for the long weekend I was off again, this time for what was to me an amazing trip, one that I loved every second of. I flew to Hong Kong as part of the ANA Ambassador program to help promote the resumption of 787 services to North America. I had the most amazing time and I blogged heavily about it but here are a couple of photos of my favourite memories. I met some amazing people, did some amazing things I will never truly forget.

From ANA Ambassador Spotting & Artistic
From ANA Ambassador
From ANA Ambassador
From ANA Ambassador
From ANA Ambassador

But June was not totally a good memory. It was also the start of my toughest struggle. In Hong Kong while running along the waterfront, I strained my peraformis muscle. My first major injury ever, it made life very tough for me. I slumped into a bit of a depression and still battle with the after affects today. But it is moments like this that make us stronger, make us look at our selves and realise what we love and what we do in life. Though not a fun memory, it is a memory I will not forget from 2013

Looking back at 2013 – Travel

It’s the final week of the year and rather than moan on about how crappy christmas time is for someone who is seperated from their family (it is crap… avoid it), I am going to look back at some of the good times of the last 12 months. I did a MASSIVE amount of travelling in 2013. Both for work, pleasure and for the sheer hell of it. I did my first real mileage runs in 2013 with the BBQ run to Dallas and the Comfy run to Newark. Both taught me a few things about flying in the USA (never have tight connections in winter in the midwest, that is just CRAZY!). I tried a few new airlines, got to return to Asia and even managed 2 trips to the South Pacific.

Some of my favourite travel moments looking back over the last 12 months though all involve random events. Things like being photo bombed by a Qantas Cabin Manager

From Wedding Time Down Under

Having to replace stickers in LAX repeatedly

From LAX Avgeek Run

Or just random stupid things in New Zealand

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

All in all I had a great time this year travelling but it was a big big year. I haven’t fully broken down my stats to see what aircraft was top but it will be a close call between a 737 and an A320. Though to be honest this year was filled with so many different types it will be hard to tell. Some of the stats that I do know though:

New Airports: Salt Lake City – SLC, Dallas Fort Worth – DFW, Memphis – MEM, Atlanta – ATL, Newark – EWR, San Jose – SJC, Madison – MSN, Green Bay – GRB, OshKosh – OSH, Washington DC National – DCA, Phoenix – PHX, Philladelphia – PHL, Kansas City – MCI

New Aircraft – MD-88, A321, 767-300 (non ER)

New Airlines – Cathay Pacific, Hawaiian, Southwest, American, US Airways, Jetblue & numerous Regional Airlines flying under other carriers (for Delta, United, & US Airways)

The biggest stat for the year though is my total mileage. I don’t think I have ever flown as many miles in my life. It definately beats last year and I think also the year I flew around the world. My total mileage for 2013 was 83,071! That is a LOT! When you put all the cities on the one map it looks like this:

All My travelling in 2013 layed out on a map

All My travelling in 2013 layed out on a map

That is a LOT! Obviously the 3 trips across the Pacific gave me a good portion of that mileage (over half at least), but it was a pretty fun year. Not sure what travelling will entail in 2014, but i don’t think it will be as big… but who knows!

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Kansas City to Seattle

After winding my way fairly slowly from the downtown core out into the suburbs north of the city to the airport it was a stark contrast to living back west. The area was just flat, way flat. I would of loved to of gotten a chance to go out running in warmer weather here as I am sure I could get some decent times on the flat ground. I stopped to fill the car and in the process while doing so I tried ever so hard not to fall over and kill myself in the gas station car park as it was covered in ice and snow. Add on some gasoline and you have a lovely slushy mixture of slipperiness. I was going to miss this city, it wasn’t at all as bleak or as desolate as I expected. The people were great and the city itself was a unique twist of old and new. I had to come back.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I dropped the car off at the rental lot, waving bye bye to another awesome 300C experience. I was going to miss being National Executive, I was considering buying the membership for $50, as it did feel worth it. Right after dropping off the car and making my way back inside into the warmth, the shuttle was boarding full of people so I had barely stopped for a few moments before I was on my way again. Back to the terminal and starting to begin my journey home. Kansas City airport is made up of 3 horseshoe shaped terminals and I was heading to a terminal that was shared with Delta, Alaska & Southwest. Stupidly I got off at the wrong end and had to walk the entire horse shoe, all the way to the other end where Alaska was right next to Delta. I was on the hunt for a good place to leave behind an AirlineReporter sticker so had a few spaces in mind.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I checked in pretty quickly and was handed a boarding pass and pointed towards security. While the terminals were fairly small it meant that once you clear security there really isn’t that much at all. I had not even thought about the half bottle of water I had in my bag when I got into the security line… rookie mistake! It took a good 10 minutes to get through the security check point. Not that there was many people ahead of me (about 5) but that they just took forever! Why is it when I am in the midwest I get stuck at security. But then I got myself stuck because I forgot to empty my water bottle. Even bigger rookie mistake!

From Kansas City BBQ Run

So I took my walk of shame after the security agent (not the TSA) brought my water bottle back to me empty, although he pointed me towards where I could fill it up (funnily enough right where he just emptied it). I went towards the gate and then a very familiar accent started making annoucements to gate check bags free of charge. Figuring that I could now offload some stuff for free and dodge a bag fee, well… who was I to say no to that! So I gate checked my bag and turns out the Delta agent working the Alaska gate was actually an Aussie from Brisbane (well the Gold Coast really). Totally wierd to run into a fellow Aussie in the middle of no where almost. Both of us a LOOOONG way from home. I settled in with a gate checked bag tag while I moved some stuff around to make sure that I had a light backpack for the flight. I even managed to stash a AR Sticker somewhere in the terminal while I was waiting for my flight.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Alaska Airlines – AS759
Kansas City International to Seattle Tacoma
1645-1830
Boeing 737-800 (N558AS)
Economy Class – Seat 29F

Boarding: 1605 (Gate 59)
Push Back: 1646
Take off Roll: 1710 (Runway 19L)
Top of Descent: 1813
Touch Down: 1836 (Runway 16L)
Shut Down: 1844 (Gate N3)

Boarding was called and it took a while to get through all the different elites that Alaska allows. It seems that by the time they got to my group it was like the entire plane was trying to get on first before me. Ah well didn’t matter I wasn’t needing overhead bin space, though I wondered as I dropped my bag at the door, with the other gate check bags, if I would ever see it again. As I walked onboard I finally paid attention to the tail and noticed the Flower Lei on the tail which denotes a 737-800 with Etops. Something Alaska did to really promote their hawaii flights. The day before it had been a 900 today an 800. I am totally confused here. As I walked up to my seat, the crew member there looked familiar. It was the same one that worked yesterday, so I said to her “hello again” to which she half recognised me and said “quick trip?”. It certainly was! Had a quick chat about the aircraft and the swap and them doing back to back different aircraft different days.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I settled into my seat conducting the usual things, not that many photos as it was pretty crappy looking outside. Then it happened. My seat mate showed up… and she was old, and looked not at all there. That was confirmed moments later when she sat down and started rocking back and forth…. continuously… something that would continue for the entire flight. We were warned by the captain about wanting to get out of there quickly as we had to de ice and that would eat up time obviously. So Alaska doesn’t seem to paid their flight schedule they just make everyone board way early.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We deiced and headed for the runway. Waving bye bye to Kansas City as we climbed out through the clouds and the crap below into the sky. I settled in as best I could next to the crazy lady. Thank god for noise cancelling headphones as not only was there crazy lady next to me, but two screaming babies in the rows behind me. I didn’t hear a thing though. Ahhh bliss. I declined the snacks on offer instead thinking I will just have a few sodas and relax before getting back and scurrying home. Sadly the crew just ignored me for the drink runs and every time I tried to ask they just kept on walking past me. This happened for every single service during the flight. Why I wasn’t offered I have no idea but the crazy lady next to me seemed to be having a hell of a time constantly fidgeting and moving about and several times elbowing me in the ribs.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

The one thing that brought a smile to my face was that while she kept fidgeting, the lady next to me kicked her travelling companions beer all over them. I smiled while she went into an overdrive of craziness. I just sat back watched Top Gear and laughed silently and sneakily. It was probably bad of me to be like that but hey, if your going to be an ass on a flight, it is going to come back to you eventually.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

We started descent somewhere over lights and I had no idea where we were or what was going on because it was just so dark out. Eventually I think we head north over elliot bay and then right turned right over downtown and onto approach to SeaTac. We landed comfortably and easily and started taxiing to the gate, right back to N3 where it all started the day before. While I sat at the back waiting for the plane to empty out, I was catching up on life via the internet and texting away. By the time I made it off the plane it was a solid 12 minutes after we had pulled up. If this time kept eating up and I beat my bag to the baggage area I could pretty much recoup most of the costs of my flights thanks to baggage delay points… come on delays!

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I made it off the train and rocked up at baggage claim with my bag circling the far side to which I just ran around and grabbed it. Damn it! Pretty soon I was heading over to the shuttles and it was already ahead of me just leaving the 1st pick up point. I sprinted after it running the entire length of the pick up points to finally get onboard… I had made it all the way to the shuttle point without getting to cold and I was soon in the warmth of my truck, driving home!

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Seattle to Kansas City

Saturday 7th April 2013

A leisurely morning almost compared to my usual trips as I could sleep in till a half normal time, work out, have breakfast and partially clean the house all with a couple of coffees under my belt and making my flight without a hassle. An extra coffee for the truck and I was headed out a little delayed waiting for something to upload to my tablet. I was travelling light this time with just my duffle and a backpack. No SLR, no laptop, just the tablet and my p&s.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

I made it to the parking garage with good timing and by the time I hit the terminal since I already had my boarding pass I was looking good if the lines were not to bad, sadly… they were not good. I tried and old trick since the Alaska mobile boarding passes barely showed any information and used the United/Alaska premium security entry and funnily enough they let me through showing my Gold Card. O silly Seattle TSA, how Gullible you are.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Through security (eventually), grab a photo of one of the numerous Alaska special liveries at SeaTac that morning and onto the Train to the N Gates, popping out just about 10 minutes before boarding should commence. Being mindful that Alaska board almost an hour before departure for some unknown reason. Ran into someone I knew for a quick hello and chat, grabbing a printed boarding pass and then it was to Starbucks for more coffee and a water bottle fill and I was off to the gate, rocking up just as boarding started for general economy.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Alaska Airlines – AS762
Seattle Tacoma to Kansas City International (SEA-MCI)
1030-1542
Boeing 737-900 (N315AS)
Economy Class – Seat 24A

Boarding: 0950 (Gate N3)
Push Back: 1029
Take off Roll: 1040 (Runway 34R)
Top of Descent: 1513
Touch Down: 1540 (Runway 1L)
Shut Down: 1458 (Gate 59)

Boarding for my area was called and I was off to the back of the flight, all the way back. Being a 737-900 (my 3rd flight on the type) it is like boarding an A321… lots of way to go to the back (not as much though but you get the idea). The whole point of this trip was doing it on the cheap, I wasn’t checking bags or anything so I just sucked it up and went all the way to back like I was meant to. Luckily I was at the front of the line so I did manage to get some overhead bin space. With a full flight expected I stashed my gear and sat down as quickly as possible.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

All my gear stored appropriately and I was doing the usual pre flight stuff (photos, log book, general tweeting) and next thing I know the doors are shut, theres a middle seat next to me free and we are pushing back. SCORE! What was even better was the sun was out as we pushed back and although it was freakishly cold the light was awesome. So as we taxiied past a few specials and some heavies at the South Terminal, I saw the Spirit of Hawaii (which had been parked at the gate next to ours) sitting in the penalty box… o no! We took off ahead of them and pretty soon we were turning left towards the east and parts unknown.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

It was wierd to be using my phone and tablet all the way over as it was my first flight with the new PED rules and I do like it! Managed to get through a good chunk of my book but sadly, no music for the first part of the flight. I hadn’t checked the batteries on my headphones so as soon as I turned them on, they went dead. Checked for spares…none… DOH! So no music till I could take out my earplugs.. dammit, ah well.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We cruised east and the crew started a very long service process, selling their entertainment systems, then food, then we can get a drink. But it was ok I had water and thought ahead to bring some lunch with me. Bagel, Turkey and some carrots. Boring, cheap ($3 total) and filling enough for a 3 hour flight. With a diet lemonade I was ok enough. Even managed a few rounds before they closed up service. What did I do on the flight? I read, used some free wifi thanks to Gogo and just bummed about.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We started descent somewhere outside of the airport, I had no idea where I was or what should or shouldn’t look familiar so just took it all in. As we approached Kansas City (Missouri side) you could see a sprinkling of snow around the airport, which did not bode well at all really. It was going to be cold, I had expected that but I didn’t want it to snow on me. We came back around after going the long way into the airport. As we touched down and cleared the runway it was a plethora of trijets on the freight ramp. A couple of 727s and an MD11F, add on a DC9 as well and it was awesome vintage time. Off in the distance was a couple of ex Qantas 767s awaiting destruction as well. It is always unique being in the midwest. The rest of the airport seemed deserted with just one or two aircraft in existence it seemed.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We pulled into the gates next to a Delta 757 and just like that my flight to Kansas City is over. By the time I Was able to extricate myself from the back of the plane, I was prepped to grab my jacket from my bag before I froze to death. That didn’t take all that long as once you leave the gates your about 4 steps from the landside of the terminal…Aircraft to Landside in less than 10 metres…. SCORE! Next thing I know its time to get my jacket out and get moving, since I had just officially stepped foot in a new state.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Introduction

I had set myself a goal this year to be able to add at least one more state to my list of US States visited and unfortunately I had left it pretty late to get to that point. Without it I would go one short on some of my goals and that could not be so. But I didn’t want to spend all that much money really. It’s the end of the year, travel is expensive in the holiday season so it was time to use up some of those points that are just floating around.

I had enough points in my Alaska account for a round trip economy or enough in my american for a one way in first. So I figured round trip economy would be perfectly fine but if i took some out of each I could get away with a bit more choice. But where to? The two easiest places for me to get to were either Kansas City or Anchorage. Both would add points off my list, both had interests to keep me going for at least 24 hours if required. The issue was picking which one to visit. Yes Alaska at this time of year is freezing cold, but then where isn’t. But the time of year it would not be all that much light during the day, so that would be cool I guess. Getting some plane spotting in for a day and seeing Alaska would be nice. But then there is Kansas City where I can knock two states off for the price of one, as the Airport is technically in Kansas City Missouri a few miles from the Kansas City in Kansas… I like this idea. A friend out there tempted me further by offering to show me around and take me for some good BBQ as well. It wouldn’t be the first time I had flown across the country for BBQ, might as well do it again right?

Flights booked and thanks to using points and times etc it was going to be my most boring trip of the year almost with tickets on the Alaska direct flights in each direction, the price in cash outlay $5 total, points was down a good 25,000 all up with half from each of my Alaska & AA accounts. Not a big deal there. Next came picking a hotel, this was probably going to be the most expensive part of it. But the day after I booked the flights, IHG released their points break list where they offer accommodation for 5000 points, well under what they normally offer. Funnily enough a hotel in Kansas City Kansas was on the list. I snatched it up instantly. Hell I could now justify both states as I was flying into one and staying in the other. It may of been a little bit out of the main downtown core but who cares. Total cost to me $0 cash, 5000 points.

So car hire was booked on the usual last minute specials that National offers and I was looking at a damn cheap trip, what with a cost of less than $45 in cash outlay on the three essentials I was look pretty good, it was just time to wait for the day to arrive.