What is to come:

2015 will certainly be a different year than 2014.  For first I am married now so I guess this year will see me trying to be a better husband as well as a better husband.  The hardest part of my life this year will be uncertainty.  I want to know what is happening with my life but I am so far away from everything it isn’t funny.  Life is pretty much in a holding pattern so I want to make sure whatever goals I set for myself this year are attainable.

One of the biggest things I try to do every year is set some fitness goals.  Since Heidi is going to have her own goals (and hopefully she will post them here as well), my goals might be fairly similar.  Like for instance I know that Heidi wants to run a 5k this year, something she wants to do to push herself.  So I figure I should at least do one myself right?  I think my fitness goals for 2015 should be:

* 2 x 5k runs
* 1 x 10k run

I also want to continue getting my weight back down.  It is too high in my opinion so will do whatever it takes to get that back down.   I know people will say that I don’t need it etc, but I do and I want to fit back into my Hong Kong Suit and prove Heidi wrong after a comment she made about it before the wedding.

As for Travel Goals, well that is a different thing this year.  Ideally Heidi & I want to go to Australia.  That is all we really care about, that is all we really want to do.  Nothing else matters, everything else is not required, everything else is just icing on the cake (i do like cake and i do like icing).

I want to work towards changing my job this year as well, finding something that will make me happy.  I don’t want to be in this job forever and I don’t want to be stuck in the same job for the rest of my life, so finding something this year will be one of my goals.  Now to just work out what I want to do… any ideas?

So that is enough pondering the future for one night.  I am looking forward to a new 2015, one that brings in some challenges and some surprises.

2014 Travel Look Back

2014 was a light year for me for travel. With a changed life and different priorities, I think I spent more time driving than I did flying. Looking back though at the stats, it was a little bit shocking. I only flew a total of 13,090 miles! That is not much at all! Last year I did at least 4 times that, if not more! Without any trips across the ocean either, it was kept at a real minimum. Let’s look at the stats:

My 2014 Flight Map

My 2014 Flight Map

Total Flights: 14
Total Miles: 13,090
Total Airlines: 4
New Airlines: 0
New Aircraft: 0
Most flown Airline by Segments: Southwest (6)
New Airports: San Diego, Anchorage, Denver, Albuquerque, Dallas Love Field

All of the flights were in Economy, but this year it was a toss up between either award flights, paid flights, non rev tickets and stand by buddy flights. The trip to San Diego was my first experience at Buddy Passes and it was interesting (don’t know if i could handle the whole stand by thing). But my favorite flights of the year where those I was able to spend with Heidi. 3 simple flights and yet they were the most fun. My trip out to Dallas was the most amount of flights in such a short period of time. It was not the most amount I have done in a day (what is it about me and flying to Dallas with 3 segments in each direction?).

Next year doesn’t look as big either unfortunately. We are planning on heading to Australia but other than that, there isn’t much at all. I would like to get on an innagural flight and tick at least one new state off my list, but will see how that works out.

Coming to a close

2014 is coming to a close and this year sure has turned out very different compared to the way it began. Who would have thought that this post at the beginning of 2014:

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

My Fitness Goals for 2014 is just one:

* Half Marathon

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!

Well what I wanted to happen and what did happen are totally different things. Looking at these goals I can tell you right now I completed just two of them. I ran my first ever Half Marathon back in May in Vancouver. It was something I worked so hard to achieve and now looking back I am proud of that effort. The other would have to be that date, because obviously that happened. In fact I went on many dates with Heidi and look at how that turned out :D To be honest a lot of people criticized me over putting “one date” however I did point out the at least part. My original goal was really just to get out there, to stop being such a recluse. Well it worked and I can’t thank a few people more for giving me the push.

As for all the other goals. Well none of the travel ones happened. Originally the returning to japan and singapore suites would have happened, but sadly we had to cancel that. I am hoping to tick off Singapore Suites next year but that’s another story. As for LH first class, nope never happened and same with Maho. As for the other goals, well about that jumping out of a plane business….. yeah not gonna happen. The weight, well I did knock off at least 20lb but I didn’t really put any effort into it for at least 6-8 months, so that is to be expected.

My travel this year would have to be my lowest of the last several years. I didn’t fly that much at all but what I did fly was worth it. A few trips with Heidi, one for AirlineReporter and a couple of spotting trips made it fun.

Some of my favourite momentos of 2015 I might look at later in the week or after New Years Eve. I still love writing for the blog, but spending time with Heidi more and more means that I have less time to write as much drivell as I used to. But don’t worry. I can tell you that in 2015, this site will still live on.

Christmas Eve Avgeekiness

I was going to title this the second half of the Honeymoon Avgeek photos, but it is Christmas Eve so it is appropriate to celebrate.

From Honeymoon Spotting

A New Livery Southwest 737-700

From Honeymoon Spotting

A Fiji Airways A330 heading to the parking spaces after a long flight from the South Pacific

From Honeymoon Spotting

A MasAir Cargo 767 (never seen this before)

From Honeymoon Spotting

A JAL 777-300ER

From Honeymoon Spotting

A Mesa Airways CRJ, flying for US Airways Express, painted in the American Eagle Livery (confused yet?)

From Honeymoon Spotting

A United 737-800 with Scimitar Winglets

Merry Christmas to you all!!! May you Christmas Day be full of Avgeekiness

Honeymoon Avgeekiness…. Pt 1

Since it is a Sunday night, time to share some avgeek porn. Lots of planes from the trip with some spotting in Vegas, Tucson and also LA.

I managed to get some avgeek time at the PIMA Air & Space Museum (and you can read about it here) but the first half of the trip the most spotting I got to do (apart from some while we waited for our helicopter flights) was in Las Vegas. My shots during our helicopter flight were pretty crap (Bernie can you teach me your tricks?) so all I have from Vegas is from when I first arrived where I had about 45 minutes or so getting some arrivals as the sun set.

From Honeymoon Spotting
From Honeymoon Spotting
From Honeymoon Spotting
From Honeymoon Spotting

Other than that, the best I got was in Tucson while parking the car at our hotel (which was right by the airport mind you) we managed to score a flight of Arizona Air National Guard F-16s doing circuits. But this is about the best of that set

From Honeymoon Spotting

More later in the week!!

Getting around to it

So, it has been about 2 weeks now since Heidi & I got back from Honeymoon and with all the craziness of Thanksgiving, then Heidi’s birthday, I finally get a chance to plonk myself in front of the computer to work on some photos.  So up first today are some of my shots from the Grand Canyon… just a couple

From Honeymoon
From Honeymoon
From Honeymoon
From Honeymoon

Honeymoon Photos!

Just a quick piece to say that my honeymoon photos are up (Heidi’s are probably going to end up on Facebook) but there are still a good lot of ones that I need to work on. With plenty of photos taken as usual, but not as many as in the past, there is still plenty of good stuff.

The Spotting photos still need to be worked on and there are a number of artistic ones I want to work on. But enjoy!

Honeymoon

Honeymoon Day 8 – A Graveyard of Sorts

Tucson was fun, much better than I thought it would be. Our time there was Heidi’s idea from the start and to be honest she handled it like a trooper. She treated her avgeek husband like you would expect in this situation. You let him go and say yes dear a lot.

We spent the last two nights in Tucson at the Country Inn & Suites by the airport. Why that one? Well we were using the mountain of Club Carlson points I have and the card offers the 2nd night free on a stay, so for very little we could get a free stay. It wasn’t bad but our check in was comically bad. 3 rooms till we got one that was acceptable. It was like Goldilocks, the first room had a broken shower curtain rod, the 2nd reeked of cigarettes (non smoking hotel as well) the third was just right (and by just right I mean we could live with it). Breakfast at the hotel was basic (but they couldn’t make oatmeal to save their lives) but tasty enough. Nothing really to complain about for the price we paid.

The main reason we went to Tucson was to visit The Boneyard. I will cover more in the airlinereporter pieces about them specifically but we had fun, PIMA was great and they had way more planes than I expected. It was heaps of fun and Heidi wasn’t totally bored.  Great spotting as A-10s were always climbing out of Davis Montham (even managed to see a couple of F-16s doing touch & go’s at the main Tucson airport).

Tucson was a good break for us. We could settle in for 2 nights and relax.  The weather was nice (70s during the day) and we thawed out after the Canyon & Sedona. We also caught up with some friends of Heidi’s (well her best friends in laws) for dinner. It was apparently the birth place of the Chimichanga although I was to scared to try one (who deep frys a burrito… Seriously!). We even found a really cool ice cream shop that had old school sundaes (although as usual I chose wrong & ended up with something smaller than I wanted… Typical).

We rolled out of Tucson early this morning as the sun rose. A lot of highway ahead of us as we cruise along I-10 heading to Anaheim. Tucson was a great stop & one that I enjoyed. We will probably go back some time, there is more I want to see around that area, a good way to escape I guess.

Current Location: I-10W, Mile Marker 70, La Paz County Arizona.
States Visited: 3
Miles Driven: 1369m
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 5
Cookies eaten by Mal: 35

Honeymoon Day 5 – From Desert Heat to Canyon Cold

After we rolled out of Vegas at 6am Saturday morning we were heading East towards Arizona. Retracing some steps I took the very first time I visited the USA though this time I was at the controls and not trying to sleep off any hangovers. The drive was stunning as the sun started rising over the mountains.

We made a pit stop in Kingman AZ for breakfast. Quick stop at the Dunkin for coffee & a bagel and back on the road we go with Heidi at the wheel.   Another pit stop in William AZ for a walk, a snack & some beverages & then North towards the Canyon. The road was easy going & our first real road day together on this trip. We were aiming to be in Grand Canyon Village by 1300 at the latest as we had a helicopter flight booked. I had applied for an industry stand by rate for one of the longer flights and it was a deal for $35pp.

We made it into town around 12 so went for a walk, grabbed some lunch & tried to check in but they wouldn’t let us. Not a big deal. We headed off to the airport for our flight. This was Heidi’s 2nd helicopter flight in as many days & she was still super excited.  I thin I have created a monster. I am going to say that the best way to get a perspective on just how vast the Canyon is you need to see it from the air.  No real commentary from our pilot bug a good flight. I was in the back with Heidi next to me on the window. Didn’t worry me at all, we only paid 1/10th the price others did.

After our flight we headed into the National Park (here’s a tip, purchase your pass at the Imax Theatre, same price, no lines & no wait at the park entrance)  and headed for the rim. Originally we were going to head to the rim around the main visitors center for sunset, however there was massive crowds, way over the top. We decided to go East towards Desert View & the sunset point out there, it would be less crowded (it was). The winds were up and the temperature had dropped dramatically. In Vegas it was in the 70s during the day, at the Canyon it was high 30s plus windchill. Ugh. We had an early night with Mexican food & TV in bed.

Woke up the next morning to a snow & ice layer on the ground. A temperature of high 20s was a rude shock. Not something you want to deal with when you are meant to be out hiking. We revised our plans after recovering from a rude awakening by the fire alarms going off at 5am (joy) and decided to just stick to the rim walk for a few kms, mainly for safety & keeping our bodies in one piece.

The Canyon walk was good & worth the hour or so we took to stroll along. At one point we came across an entire flock of Mule Deer, just wandering along as though we didn’t exist. Still really beautiful & Heidi had a blast running about amongst nature. We finished our Rim Walk by the fire thawing out at Bright Angel Lodge before Hopping the shuttle back to our car.

The Canyon is ever as beautiful as I remember it, the colors at sunset were stunning. Although we didn’t come prepared for temperatures at that level (my hands froze solid at one point & I went through considerable pain as they thawed out) we still enjoyed the time we had there. Right now we cruise out of the park headed for Sedona & our most expensive night on this trip, but hopefully the one that is going to be the most relaxing & luxurious.

Current Location: State Route 64 between Tusayan & William AZ
States Visited: 3
Miles Traveled: 777m
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 3

Honeymoon Day 4… The Vegas Aftermath aka my stomach hurts

Vegas was a good couple of days. Heidi has never been before so it was a good mix of new stuff for me (on my 4th time around) and also seeing the traditional touristy things for Heidi. I picked Heidi up at the airport after the first flight in from Seattle. The flight was actually early and I made it to the terminal pretty much as she was walking off her flight. Timing it well and the 15 minutes free parking meant that I could be there as she cleared out of the secure area, scored a big hug for that. Took Heidi back to the hotel so she could get some breakfast and finish off some Uni work she didn’t quite get done and then it was off to explore Vegas.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel, the Mandalay Bay. After 2 days of searching www.mycheapvegas.com I managed to find a really good rate for a Bay Suite that was less than what other hotels were charging for a room (conferences in town and the Rock n Roll Marathon had something to do with that). But the check in process really summed up just how this hotel was either hot or cold. There was never a real middle ground, the hotel was either really good for something, or just horribly bad. The first person to check us in at the Invited Guest desk (a suite check in benefit we had, along with also the fact that my Mlife Gold status has that benefit) was borderline rude. Treated like we didn’t deserve to be there and that just put me off immediately. Had Heidi not been there I may have made a scene, one thing for certain, she didn’t get a tip (aka $20 trick). When we came back later to get our room, the person greeting us then gave us a great welcome. However even though I had made a point to make sure they knew it was our Honeymoon, no one really seemed to care.

The Mandalay had it’s good and bad parts, the rooms were large and spacious and I did love the bed (however it wasn’t to Heidi’s liking). The bathroom was large and we had a giant Tub but the room itself had three major flaws:
1. No power plugs anywhere near the bed at all, they seemed to be centered around the desk where there was an ample supply of 6 plugs
2. The lights were terribly awkward to control and were predominantly lamp based, again a pet hate of mine.
3. This one really got Heidi’s goat, but there was no coffee available in the room. Not just no supplies but no way at all in making any. Not even like MGM where they provide a Keurig machine and charge you $6 for the cup and the pod to use. Nothing at all! Way to go Mandalay Bay, you just made an enemy of my wife.

The facilities around the hotel were great, and although the main pool was closed for the winter, Moorea was more than ample for Heidi’s needs (way too crowded for me personally). Our most memorable part of the Mandalay was technically not even at the Mandalay Bay but at the Four Seasons Las Vegas. A hotel within a hotel, the Four Seasons lobby and check in are below the main casino floor but they occupy a good portion of floors towards the middle of the main tower. They do however have a hidden gem that is Charlie Palmer Steak. This isn’t your typical Vegas steakhouse where you pay $120 for a piece of steak with no sides. We opted for the set menus at $50 for 3 courses including “Bottomless Wine Pairings” it is amazing value. The “Cut of the Week” menu that I had alternates on a weekly basis but the value for money is amazing. We expected to end up with smaller portions like you may expect for a set menu (ala restaurant week) however the portions were full size. Well worth it as my Steak would normally go for $40 on its own!

Apart from the Mandalay Bay we spent quite a bit of time outside of the hotel. We spent time exploring Caesars Palace and their shops (as it has a very large H&M that Heidi wanted to check out). We also spent some time wandering through the Venetian and grabbing some treats at Carlo’s Bakery (famous from the TLC show Cake Boss). I am a sucker for a baked good and one that is from a celebrity chef. SOLD! Not bad but the Tiramasu that Heidi decided to have was quite expensive for the size. My Cookie though was super tasty. We also grabbed a couple of cup cakes from the Cupcake ATM which was a weird experience of itself. We had a good time exploring Cosmopolitan in search of their secret pizza place and it was worth it. Yummy thin pizza, New York style, and cheap too! Of course this is Vegas and what trip would not be complete without a buffet. Of course you all know Heidi and I love going to Brunch. But in Vegas, Brunch is a weekend only affair and we couldn’t have that. So we went with a breakfast buffet instead, one that we could enjoy without feeling guilty over the quality. There was many hours of research, checking out best value and best quality and in the end it came down to Aria. Their buffet even had like 9 different types of Ice Cream. We had breakfast with my friend Kevin and I think Heidi and I ate way to much food. I know I had 4 of those 9 ice cream flavors along with other tasty treats (Banana Waffle, with Bananas foster sauce and Pumpkin Ice cream is AMAZING).

I was able to get Heidi her first ride in a Helicopter (though you will have to wait till I write that up for AirlineReporter to see what she thought of it) and I also checked out the Neon Sign Museum. It was really interesting to see a good portion of Las Vegas history from all the signs that the city was just so well known for. Also a piece of interesting trivia. Put Las Vegas Neon Museum into Google Earth and see what you see when you Zoom in, you will thank me :D

We rolled out of Vegas early this morning with the overall feeling that it was a great couple of days. It really pushed in the fact to both of us that Vegas in small portions is ample enough time. You can always come back another day to see something else, because I am sure it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. We left heading further east towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon hitting up some old school Route 66 but heading into the National Parks.

Current Location: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon
Miles Driven: 725m
States Visited: 3
Nights on the Road: 3
Slim Jims Consumed by Heidi: 2