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? ***

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

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!

The Final Commutes

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I complain a lot in the morning or evenings. Generally this disdain & unhappiness is generally pushed in one direction, Community Transit. Who are they? They run the bus services from Everett to Bellevue & in my general area. They are heavily trafficked, but extremely lax at times. They also have to deal with the 405 which is the worst Highway known to man kind.

So this week is my final week of commuting southbound on the 405 and I am happy about it too. Saturday I start the moving process as I pack up & head south to my new home in Renton (will post more next week on the new place). I can’t wait to get rid of dealing with Community Transit, the 405 Southbound in the morning, the badly planned SR522 interchange and continuous road works, but most of all I am looking forward to a single bus commute.

No more hurry up & wait, no more standing around, hoping a bus will connect properly (they don’t), no more giant Park & ride hassles. I will be sad to see some of the eye candy dissappear (the Russian looking girl, Miss Hooker Heals, and the infamous blonde with the ring) but maybe the new bus will bring new things. I know it  bring me one thing, less stressful commutes!

Trip Report – To The Last Frontier: Anchorage to Seattle

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

Sunday 1st June 2014

I returned the truck to the airport, happy in that I was now going to remain dry for the rest of the afternoon and also happy in the knowledge that I had enjoyed myself immensly. After 2 days of spotting, my camera batteries needing charging, my arms needed a rest (that bigma is heavy!) and my body needed refueling…. badly.

From Anchorage

I headed from the Rental Car center over to the main terminal via the underground walkway. The walkway was pretty neat, they had aerial photos of the airport from the day it opened. Staggered every 5 years or so you could see the changes that were made over time. The airport has become so busy now that it definitely does hold the titles of “Crossroads of the North” and deserves it.

From Anchorage

After entering the small terminal, I headed up and to the left to the United check in area and dropped my bag off. Sadly no United Club here in Anchorage so my plans were to get through security and find somewhere to get some lunch. I had found out online that the airport had an “Observation Deck” above the main concourse, which had some Alaskan Native Art in there as well. I was more interested in the view than anything. With my bag dropped off and disposing of the unfinished portion of my water, off through security I went. Premium Security line was empty but as I got there up comes two ladies in Wheelchairs, shutting down my side of the check point. Joy. What it meant was that while they let everyone in the general queue go for boarding pass inspection, I had to wait. Even when they reopened it and called me forward. A lady from the general queue pushed her way in front of me. Whatever

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I made it through security easily and with my belongings in hand. I found a place that had a half decent sounding salad and headed up to the observation deck to get some last minute enjoyment while I waited for boarding. The time went by quickly and about 4pm I headed down towards the gate and just as I got there, the aircraft arrived. Love timing it like that! I headed up to the desk to try my luck at another Exit Row and with a smile and a nice kind ask, I had an exit row boarding pass.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I found somewhere to sit in the middle of the concourse, a shot distance from the gate as it seemed that every man and his dog (well no animals, but you know what I mean) were waiting at the gate. It was pretty packed but the seat map looked decidedly empty last time i checked. I rearranged a few things so that I did not have to get up to my camera bag in the middle of the flight (hate doing that, since it is really bulky and heavy). The seats where I was doing that were very unique. They felt more like pieces of art than actual seats, but it was a unique way of looking at something that is required for people to rest and wait.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As I was waiting for boarding it was time for the freighter change over as the current waive left their gates and were replaced by another set. I had packed my camera away, but had the windows not been covered in rain, I may have contemplated pulling it out again. Why not add a few more images to the count.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

The boarding area filled once they announced that boarding would begin shortly and the new United boarding area (with sign posted gate lines) certainly does make things easier. The gate area looks far less crammed and feels more controlled. The Gate lice still exist, however they are more handled and kept in line. Something for other airlines to consider maybe?

United Airlines – UA1129
Anchorage to Seattle Tacoma
1705-2130
Boeing 737-900ER (N68801)
Economy Plus – Seat 20A (Exit Row)

Boarding: 1640 (Gate B5)
Push Back: 1706
Take off Roll: 1716 (Runway 25R)
Top of Descent: 2049
Touch Down: 2114 (Runway 34L)
Shut Down: 2121 (Gate A10)

When the boarding commenced for Global Services and those who needed help, it was a while before Zone 1 was called and even then, the difference between Zone 1 & Zone 2 boarding was non existent. Everyone in that line just rushed the boarding door. I hung back in the knowledge that being in Zone 2, still gets me to my seat, still gets me overhead space for the camera bag and still gives me plenty of time to relax.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I took my seat in the first of the Exit Rows (I went up in the 2nd exit row) and tried to settle in as quick as possible. No one was sitting next to me for a while as boarding happened around me, but I wasn’t sure if that was going to remain. I saw that power was working this time, and as everyone boarded around me, I started plugging some stuff in. My camera batteries were running a bit low (for the P&S) and so I decided to give them some power in case I lost the last remaining battery while I was up in the air. Something That just would not do! I kept waiting and soon enough they announced that the doors were about to shut and could everyone take their seat. Not only did I have an empty middle seat, but an empty aisle seat as well. In fact the entire exit row apart from me was empty. SCORE!!!!!!

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

The crew warned everyone jammed down the back that they could not self upgrade to “Economy Plus” once the flight got to cruise altitude, they had to stay in their assigned seat. This got a few people unhappy but I didn’t care. All you have to do is ask and if they are open, generally you receive. The manual safety demo happened around me and all I know is that I was to busy answering a few last tweets before I had to switch off my phone. We pushed back and started taxiing for the runway. Things had changed since that morning and they were now using 15 for arrivals and 25R for some departures.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As we taxiied down towards the 25R threshold, we passed a lot of the smaller regional planes belonging to Pen Air & Era … I mean Ravn Air. Past all the small turbo props and then it was into the smaller local freight operators. This is where the interesting stuff lives. NAC and their 737-200s & DC-6s. Even a number of DC3s and one lone Convair. Alaska is always fun for this kind of thing. We turned onto the active and held in place for a minute or so. I could hear it in my head. United Eleven Twenty Nine, Runway Two Five Right, Winds 150 at 10 (at least thats what it was the last time I was listening in on the scanner a few hours ago), Cleared for Takeoff. The pilot would respond and then you could hear the engines spool up. Brakes still holding and then let the baby fly!!!

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Take off roll was spirited and before we had even passed the South Hangars of Lynden Aviation and the Alaska Air National Guard we were airborne and climbing. Wheels up, flaps up, we climbed out and away from the airport and turned towards Seattle. Not much to see out my side of the aircraft, but hey… I couldn’t complain though, I could have just moved to the other window and I would have it all. No one to blame but myself.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

My attention from that point, as we climbed up through the cloud base towards the blue sky, turned to getting my self situated in what was to become my little encampment. Out came my devices and I took over the power ports (both of them) to get my phone back on power to stay juiced and to change over the batteries as one of them had the top off it needed. I distributed all my gear as needed and settled in for a comfortable, spacious flight home.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

By the time we were a decent height, I pulled the laptop out to do some work on the trip reports and just generally sat back and relaxed for the flight. It took quite a while before they switched off the seat belt sign (not that anyone cared or paid any attention to it) and the pilot annouced a flight time of 2 hours 53 minutes home to Seattle.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Service commenced just after this and the crew were slow but methodical in getting the drinks out. Sadly I did not get more than a cup this time (how I got the whole can before I don’t know) but the smells coming back to us from the front of the plane were just not fair. At one point all I could smell was coffee and made a mental note to have one later to give me a bit of a pick me up before I got in the truck.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

While the flight cruised on, I read my book and decided it was time to finally get that coffee. I headed to the back of the plane to get the coffee & everyone looked so unhappy down there. All jammed in :( But hey, that could have been me, so no complaining, no making fun right? With coffee in hand I headed back to my seat and I had barely settled back in when they did a rubbish run through the plane. Knowing that they would collect all my stuff, I ended up downing the coffee fairly quickly (it wasn’t that hot at all) and figured that it would be good while it lasted. I “enjoyed” my coffee with a Protein bar that Heidi had made me pack (and it came in handy as a dinner replacement), although this one was far from tasty.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

We got a pre descent warning from the pilots somewhere over BC and as we started descent, we had just passed Vancouver off to the left side. I wasn’t sure if it was Vancouver to begin with, but it had to of been it. The city is fairly obvious from above and the man made island for the airport is really distinguishable. I kept an eye out the window on descent as we seemed awfully high passing Everett and that meant we were heading for a southern arrival, heading down towards Tacoma and turning north back towards SeaTac.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As we passed over downtown the sun was setting with beautiful red & orange tones and I spent a good amount of time trying to get the perfect photo. I think I did, but not quite sure. We turned as expected right over the Port of Tacoma and were vectored in for a 34L arrival. How do I know this? We were hugging the coastline from Tacoma, up over Federal Way & Des Moines. So much that we flew almost over Heidi’s parents place and over Burien where she lives at the moment.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Touching down about 15 minutes early we had a long taxi from the top of 34L and we held for the 34R runway to clear. What passes me by out the window? An Alaska 737 with Split Scimitar Winglets. Damn! Not fast enough… that and the light was fading. Yep, that’s my excuse, light wasn’t great.

From Anchorage

We pulled into the gate 9 minutes early and since I had no one else next to me (or even at the end of the row) I was quickly up and moving. Though we had to wait to get lot off, I was off the aircraft pretty quickly and by the time I had made the long trek from A10 to the baggage claim, the baggage carousel had just started moving. Thinking that I was going to get a repeat of Friday night, I was shocked to see my bag first on the belt! That has not happened in a long long time. Since my bag was first on the belt and I did not even break stride to grab it and turn around headed for the car park. I was out of the terminal in minutes rather than the usual 20-30 minutes it takes.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I was waiting for a shuttle longer than I had to wait for my bag, but pretty soon I was at Wallypark, paying off my bill and then jumping in the truck to drive home. I was looking forward to some sleeeeep!