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!

Breakfast Chronicles: Manhattan Seattle

Heidi & I have two things in common, we both love a good breakfast and we both love a good bargain (although Heidi’s bargain love is more towards clothes than anything else) so if you can combine the two, well that is a sure fire win. There had been many Groupon etc deals floating around for a restaurant on Capitol Hill called Manhattan but after further investigation, you could get a pretty awesome deal without the need of the Groupon. On Saturdays & Sundays for the first hour of their Brunch service (10-11am) it’s classed as “Happy Hour” and they give you half off your Brunch meal. So as long as you order by 11am your main entree portion (sides and drinks don’t count) are half price… Freaking Win! So off we went to check it out.

From Life in Seattle 2014

The restaurant was a little bit tough to find at first as it was fairly non descript on the outside, but on the inside it is definately fairly eclectic. A steakhouse for lunch and dinner, and a unique one at that, the decor was unique alright including the lovely Ram’s Head decoration above the bar.

From Life in Seattle 2014

I forget the name of the Rams Head (bar tender told me) but they refer to it as the “12th Ram” (damn Seahawks fans are everywhere) and yes, those are AR-15s on the horns (not an M-16 as i reffered to it as and got corrected but they are essentially the same thing, don’t get me started). The Menu was all southern inspired and I was in a sweet mood (as usual) & Heidi just could not overlook anything with the words “Sausage Gravy”. So I ended up with the Chocolate Chip Pancakes

From Life in Seattle 2014

Heidi had the Country Fried Steak

From Life in Seattle 2014

And we shared a side of Jalapeno Corn Bread and some White Cheddar Grits

From Life in Seattle 2014

Service was pretty good and relatively quick, although I didn’t get a 3rd refill of coffee (yeah I really shouldn’t complain about that i know, but i <3 my coffee so kill me) that was about the worst complaint. The food was REALLY good and the grits were delicious. The pancakes were not really huge and giant like I expected but a good mix of both thin & fluffy at the same time, plenty of chocolate. The steak that Heidi ordered was HUGE for a breakfast portion and extremely tasty (it was apparently only 5oz… but I don’t believe that at all). The breading on it was crunchy and spicy at the same time and the gravy was pretty darn good. Mixing the Grits with the Cornbread made for some really good flavor combinations and i felt that if the Sausage gravy had been replaced by Grits on that steak, I would of inhaled Heidi’s plate for her. Some ladies at the table next to us gave us one of their Beignets and they were pretty good (would of been better warm no doubt) and they were as impressed by the food as we were.

All in all my pancakes cost $5 and Heidi’s steak was $7 thanks to the happy hour pricing and if we had not of had sides or a cocktail/liqueur coffee it would of been a pretty cheap morning! So if you up for a good breakfast that has an amazing deal… well I would definitely go for Manhattan. While it may not be the Best Breakfast in Seattle, it is definitely the best Breakfast DEAL in Seattle

Breakfast Adventures – The Commons

Well since I have a new Breakfast partner in crime, a number of these reviews will pop up in the future. Again as before I don’t want to make this a breakfast review site, but hell, it’s always a little bit fun to show others how awesome some places are.

First off the Rank is The Commons in Woodinville. Run by the Heavy Restaurant Group who also run Barrio (Where I had my birthday brunch last year) it is their newest outpost and is luckily only 10 minutes or so from my house. Loved being able to be at a new breakfast option without having to go downtown. Thankfully I had made a reservation with the HRG twitter team earlier in the week as when we arrived there was a lovely long line waiting for a table #win.

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

It had a very old school country kitchen feel to it and I kinda liked it. The dominating point to me was the big table of baked goods just inside the door. Covered in Baked goodies like scones, muffins, cookies & other such awesomeness, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into one of these:

From Life in Seattle 2014

We were sat within 5 minutes or so and the first thing on both our minds was coffee which was promptly brought out by the lovely waitress who we shortly ordered with and after asking for the cinnamon roll to share with extra frosting, we got approving looks. That soon landed on our table, all warm and gooey and yummy, we attempted to cut it but failed when the cream cheese frosting went everywhere. Instead we just started to get stuck into it when our meals arrived.

From Life in Seattle 2014

Heidi ordered the Pork Belly Biscuit & I went with the Granola (I was wanting something fairly crunchy for once) and both were good. The Granola was to die for and the berries that came with it were devine. Heidi’s biscuit was good but even better with the addition of some of the Barrio Hot Sauce they provide.

From Life in Seattle 2014

We both agreed the place was the bomb and definately good value. Add on the service which was fantastic (even when they forgot about our potatoes) I can’t fault the place! Definately want to go back!

An Awesome Sun Filled Day

Yesterday was a pretty good day for me. It was a day full of fun and adventure, sunlight and good food, albeit really cold for part of the morning.

Started off the day in a fog filled Auburn where my friend Heidi had decided to take me to the best banana bread in Seattle. I was up for that, I do like banana bread (haven’t made any in ages and I needed a good bit to enjoy). What I was really looking forward to was a good brunch as it had been a while. We were having breakfast at the Sunbreak Cafe. A Fitting name considering there was no sun out down that way (up my end of town there was).

From Life in Seattle 2014

Portions were huge but the Banana bread was the star of the show. Soft & pillowy, delciously sweet yet not overpowering. The best part of it though was the fact that it was warmed and they cut a little slot down the middle and dumped in a nice little knob of butter, good delicious salted butter. So when you hit that middle portion as it melted into it, it was warm, and soft and buttery and bannanery (yes I am making up words).

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

Add in good coffee (small cups though… come on!) and it is obvious why they had such a line up on a Sunday morning. We didn’t wait that long so I can’t give them bad marks for that. The company was good and I enjoyed it (even though the view out the window was all fog). After breakfast we hit the road to enjoy some of the sunshine that was out. While driving north on the 405 and contemplating plans, somehow it came up that I had not been out to Snoqualmie Falls. I had always told myself I would go up there, but it just never happened. The sun was out, the sky was blue, I had good company, why not go up there. So off we went.

From Life in Seattle 2014

The falls were really nice and I enjoyed seeing it for the first time. The falls apparently were not at their peak (At least from what I was told today) but it looked pretty good and powerful to me. Plenty of photos taken and time to do some more exploring. On numerous times I had to stop Heidi from venturing off to explore places we shouldn’t (maybe i should of let her loose?) and there was plenty of places where you could of walked off the track to find some small animals to hunt (but you can’t hunt up there can you?). By the time we headed off, it was warming up a little so we had to get rid of the jackets and wave bye bye to the falls as coffee was calling out!

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

It was a great day and I had a blast spending time with Heidi. I see some more Breakfast/brunch adventures coming my way soon so I can’t wait to get that back rolling again, especially since I need new brunch buddy.

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – Honolulu to Auckland

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

I managed to extricate myself from the Aircraft and although we landed early, by the time I had gotten off the aircraft it was around about the time that I normally would have been off, had we been on time and I was sitting up the front still. That is nothing to complain about. I was met at the end of the boarding area by a couple of Hawaiian Airlines staff members who were going to escort me over to the main terminal to where my aircraft to New Zealand was waiting. They had set up for me to access the aircraft to take some empty cabin shots before it was bonded by customs and no one but the crew could come on. Fine with me!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we made our way up out of the mess of people ahead towards the shuttle area, I realised that I was heading for the famed “Wiki Wiki Shuttle”. A shuttle bus that ran along the roof top of some of the terminals and is also apparently part of where Wikipedia was named after (though because I read that on Wikipedia, take it with a grain of salt). It was great to chat to the Hawaiian staff ever so briefly but any chatting to a fellow avgeek is always great.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

They took me over to my connecting gate and the Airbus A330 that was to take me to Auckland sat waiting for me. We had to wait a little bit for the catering staff to finish and empty out of the aircraft, then it was all me! I snapped a few photos and within about 5 minutes we were good to go. Into a totally empty aircraft that was eerily quiet but made for some great photo opportunities.

After snapping away to my hearts content and then holding back from playing in the cockpit (I wasn’t there to play, I was there to work) they told the best vantage points for some exterior shots and I went for a nice walk in the open breezeways of Honolulu airport. Got to love the fact that the terminal is practically open air for the entire thing. Seriously that is awesome! Being able to hear the engine noise, smell the burning jet fuel and most importantly enjoy the feeling of real sunshine and warmth is like a dream come true. Avgeek nirvana.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

With all the photos done that I needed to get done, I headed back towards the gate area, to catch up with my coworkers and also to get some power for my laptop as it was not going to make the whole flight and I did want to at least get some work done (though not much was going to happen on what little battery power I had left). Catching up with my coworkers and talking about general stuff was good and soon enough the holding bay for the gate was filling up.

Hawaiian Airlines – HA445
Honolulu to Auckland
1345-2145
Airbus A330-200 (N381HA)
Economy Class – Seat 42J

Boarding: 1302 (Gate 29)
Push Back: 1340
Take Off Roll: 1355 (Runway 8R)
Top of Descent: 2100
Touch Down: 2137 (Runway 23L)
Shut Down: 2141 (Gate 8)

Boarding was announced and that it would be conducted in groups and that passports would be checked prior to boarding the aircraft. As they slowly called through the different groups, with Wheelchair passengers, then first class, then children with infants under 2, then finally priority boarding. With that, since I was down the back of the bus (the things I do for a window seat) I headed down the jetbridge towards my waiting Airbus.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

It was weird to be back onboard again and actually seeing crew moving about. Boarding through Door 2L was expected and I was advised to cross to the far side of the aircraft and to the back of the “Bus” you go! All the way to the back (not as bad as last time though). I was told when I got my seat swapped that there was no guarantee the seat next to me would remain empty, so I didn’t unpack my crap to much to begin with and kind of held back from just exploding all my stuff everywhere. I did the usual pre flight things while I waited. I took photos, filled in the log book, took more photos, tweeted, read about the Delta and Alaska partnership falling apart at the seems (the best part was that my email was full of emails from the other blog staff about how we had managed to break the news to the web first… way to go!) and generally just didn’t realize what was going on. While on the ground they had distributed small amenity kits (essentially headphones, earplugs and an eye mask) along with also a menu! Yes a menu in Economy, but it also doubled as a postcard so you could write a letter to someone and post them the menu.. hrm tempting! I will try not to be a cheap ass and use the postcard to send to someone.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Next thing I know the doors are shut, boarding complete is announced and we are pushing back… errr where did my time go! I hadn’t even done up my seatbelt before we were halfway through the safety video and I had managed to scramble to stow my stuff properly. Next thing I know my camera battery dies and I am stuffed without any photo ability (apart from the occasional photo from my phone which obviously was a very very naughty thing to do, but if it was important I was going to take the shot). We taxiied out to the active departure runway which was the famous (or infamous depends how you look at it) Reef Runway.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We taxiied out past Hickam and were followed to the active by a Navy P3 off on a flight somewhere. If I had of been on the Port (Left) side and had a working camea, I would of had a perfect series of photos of us holding on the active while a Navy P3 sat directly out my window waiting in line. Dammit! Didn’t matter, for the second time in my life I was departing the reef runway from Honolulu, both times in an A330 (different airlines and destinations though) and going to enjoy the climb out. We powered up as the pilot pushed the controls forward up in the cockpit and there must of been some crosswind on take off as we got nailed around quite a bit on the roll. But we soon were airborne and watching the winglet bounce is always fun.

We climbed up and away from Honolulu and slowly climbed to cruise altitude. We were barely in the air, still with seatbelt signs on and people were already moving about. Is it just me or does no one pay any attention to these signals anymore… seriously! I try not to move about at all, but below 10,000ft is definately a no no. We were far off cruise altitude and I do feel that sometimes american pilots keep the seat belt sign on far to long (through to a 40 minute climb to cruise is a bit much when it is clear as a tack out) but people in general these days seem far to complacent. Enough crapping on about people, back to the flight.

Climb out was long (as expected as I am sure this plane is heavily laden with cargo) and we were informed of a flight time of 8 hours 47 minutes which should have us arriving around 7pm… Say what now. A flight time that is roughly on time but getting us in 2 hours early… me thinks someone didn’t set their watch correctly this morning. I moved my watch to Auckland local (1 hour less but 1 day in the future) and settled in to fill out the immigration forms that were being handed out.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once we hit cruise at 38,000ft the seat belt sign came off, I hopped up to stretch and get down my electronics so that I could settle in for the flight ahead. Did I mention the seat beside me stayed empty. Though any remaining empty seat out there in the cabin filled up quicker than hell. Avod on the A330s is still a paid affair but the offerings though good (and work was paying so it wasn’t going to cost me anything) apparently had the ability to connect USB devices. I knew it would charge which was great, but I was hoping to be able to stream from my tablet to the screen so that way I could watch it on the slightly larger screen. Not to be, must only be iphone/ipod compatible as neither of my android devices worked. I settled in to do some work while I waited for service to commence.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Beverage service came through with offer of some snack mix and it was tiny cup time. Can’t I get a full can sometime today? Being a daylight flight I was intending on treating the first meal as lunch, working/chilling out for the afternoon and then our last service would be “Dinner” before hitting the sack as soon as we touched down in Auckland. Since I would be up about 4am for a quick shower and change before heading for another flight to Christchurch I had my day planned essentially. I mulled the plans over in my head while I had some snack mix and typed away.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

When that was all cleaned up, shortly afterwards out came the first meal service. Ahhh economy. It’s the same on any airline. Take off, Feed the pax, make them sleepy, shut the blinds, go to bed now people. Pfft!!! That was not going to happen to me today. It may have been an effort to stay awake as long as possible, but that is what I was going to do. I settled back to my lunch which was promptly delivered (no choice) and started to watch the movies that I had brought.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Although I couldn’t stream the movies through the seatback, I could keep the tablet charged fully with the usb plug at the seat, so while my tablet stayed nicely powered, I sat back to enjoy my tv shows and movies in relative comfort (2 seats to myself) and set up a kind of tablet stand out of the stuff I had around me. Unfortunately their would be no “GhettoIFE” on this flight as the sick bags don’t really accomodate a 7” Tablet.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Lunch wasn’t all that bad and once it was cleared away and I managed to get myself some more coffee, I pretty much spent the next several hours just watching TV shows and movies and having a conversation with a co worker in a forward row (went for a walk). The snack bar was set up forward this time (was set up in the rear cabin of the 767 and I checked it out and purchased a little bit of a snackage for my afternoon movie) and continued on doing nothing really.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The flight cruised by, as we raced the sunset away from the USA we kept battling to see if we could out pace it, but it was not to be. The sun slowly set as we passed around Fiji with about 3 hours or so left in our flight. The sunset wasn’t the best I have seen but it was still pretty damn good. The sun dropping behind the clouds made for a good backdrop against the winglet and I got a few photos. I kept thinking to myself “This is why I love to fly”, getting shots like that, just make it exciting to me.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As the sun set we slowly started to dwindle down our time to New Zealand. Around 2 hours out I expected the final service to begin, it was advertised as “High Tea, Hawaiian Style” so whatever that was, who knows! But nothing came. I packed up my stuff around the 90 minute mark… still nothing, but at 1h 15 mins from Auckland. The crew started what felt like a rushed service. The high tea was a little snack box with a small sandwhich, 2 small cookies and a chocolate macadamia nut. Not to bad if you ask me. Add in the fact that I just had to have the one thing that every single person who flies Hawaiian should have (POG) and it wasn’t a bad snack service.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As they rushed around the cabin clearing things away as we began descent into Auckland roughly 30 minutes out. It felt very very rushed for all the crew to be finishing things up as we were literally already into a slow descent. Couldn’t see anything out the window as it was all cloud and darkness, so not much to really worry about and I just finished the flight off reading the inflight magazine as the moving map had been switched off at the 30 minute mark.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Final preparations for landing were made mere moments out as we came onto finals from the opposite side that I have always landed at in Auckland. After a nice hard thump on landing we slowly taxiied to the international terminal. We were briefed to stay in our seats, do not move and do not touch anything while they sprayed the aircraft for quaratine reasons. That process took FOREVER! Almost 15 minutes while we couldnt move or do anything. Eh… kill me now. I was already fading fast and this was not helping.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

When we finally got the ok to move, I tried to get myself out of the aircraft as quickly as possible but I wasn’t holding my breath for a fast exit since I was at the back. By the time I was off, I didn’t expect to see my coworkers anywhere and I didn’t even see them at what felt like the worlds largest duty free store (but it’s not I am sure that’s in Dubai or somewhere) buying wine. From that point onwards my plan of action was to get through immigration, get my bag, get to the Telecom store, buy a sim and get to bed!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Thankfully immigration wasn’t to bad (had to ask for a stamp which I got chastised for.. pfft) and headed out through customs with my bag. Telecom was pretty much right at the exit and within 10 minutes of entering the store I was fully switched on with a new sim, new number and a half gig of data (plus access to a gig a day free wifi at Telecom hot spots). Seemed good enough to me.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Our hotel for the evening was the Novotel Auckland Airport and thankfully there is no messing around with shuttles or anything like that. It is right at the terminal exit, just past the shuttles, on the other side of the pathway. Could not miss it! Got to love that kind of location. Check in was a breeze, waved goodbye to my coworkers who were discussing wake up call times and I headed up to my room for the evening to charge up my stuff and conk out.

Trip Report – An Aussie goes to Kiwiland – Seattle to Honolulu

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Wednesday 9th October 2013

After leaving the Holiday Inn and heading over to SeaTac to deposit the truck in the Wallypark garage (thank you costco vouchers) I caught the shuttle over to the terminal so that I could check in. I got a text from one of my coworkers to say she was already checked in and through security and that I can meet her on the other side. Only one other coworker to track down and it would all be good.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The shuttle dropped me off in the total wrong spot but hey, that’s a parking shuttle for you and I walked through the terminal to the Hawaiian check in desks which are located in the far south of the terminal with the International Airlines. Check in was fairly empty and funnily enough I stepped into the International Line right behind my other coworker. Perfect!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

It was then that I found out things were not going to move fast at all. My coworker had been in line for almost 20 minutes and not because it wasn’t staffed. They were churning people through fast as anything, but the problem was that the family infront were delaying things due to some passport issues… who doesn’t realise you need a passport to leave the country.. seriously? But whatever. It took a further 15-20 minutes to even move forward and eventually they checked me in at a non international counter which they could of done in the first place, but I digress. Managed to talk my way into getting Priority Boarding and Security on a ticket that I shouldn’t (thank you Velocity Gold Card and a smile) and with about 45 minutes before boarding it was time to tackle SeaTac security.

Security wasn’t to bad and we were able to get through the priority lines fairly quickly. I had a quick discussion with one of the TSA agents about football teams (Hook Em Horns!) and that meant that my time in the line up wasn’t all that bad. Maybe it is just me but SeaTac TSA are improving somewhat, even If I still get the occasional pat n grab when I have nothing wrong with me (stupid body screening). After pointing my coworker in the direction of some shops I headed to starbucks to grab some caffeine before jumping on the train to the South Satelitte.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

By the time we got through security and I had my coffee with me and off the train, there was a bare 15-20 minutes till boarding and with my priorities already set straight, I sat at the gate chatting with my coworker. I made myself known at the counter to see if I could wingle my way into a window seat (sorry ladies, but this Avgeek wants a window on a daylight flight), I was told I would be paged if they found one for me. 10 minutes later… “Paging Mr Muir to the Podium”… Score! It may be a window in the very rear of the aircraft but hey, it will do.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Hawaiian Airlines – HA21
Seattle Tacoma – Honolulu
0845-1145
Boeing 767-300 (N596HA)
Economy Class – Seat 46A

Boarding: 0800 (Gate S16)
Push Back: 0845
Take off Roll: 0901 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1107
Touch Down: 1132 (Runway 8L)
Shut Down: 1141 (Gate 59)

Boarding started with a massive line of gate lice and constant offers to get check bags, so although there is meant to be lots of “Hawiian Hospitality” some things just don’t change. First up were familes with children under the age of 2 (which was strictly specified and enforced from what I could see), along with elderly etc. Then first class, then priority, then who knows cause I was already onboard the aircraft.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Todays ride was a non winglet equipped 763 (no Extended range here!) which although not a new type for me, was unique as there isn’t that many airlines not flying Non ER birds these days. The interior looked pretty good for this old bird and although there wasn’t seat back IFE, I didn’t mind. I was happy with my laptop and my ipod for this flight. The next flight is where I would be wanting some seatback goodness.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

All the way to the very back I headed and the aisles are narrow but then any 767 is, though 2-3-2 is a rare site these days. Seats looked ok with a slim line fit and reasonable seat pitch, nothing spacious but nothing overtly disgusting either. My only problem was that I seemed to of gotten the only window that was scratched over to eternity so my dream of photos out the windows were pretty shattered. But meh!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Boarding progressed as I settled in and the flight filled to 100% capacity (as they said it would) with not much effort and although their was lots of talk of specific space for bags in the overhead, the boarding process seemed to go off without a hassle and not that much of the usual “Sit down, shut up” attitude you get from some airlines (*cough* United *cough*). I did like the fact that they announced that we were fully boarded, doors closed and departing on time, prior to the safety demo, and depart on time we did, pushing back right on 0845.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The taxi out was fine and I missed a shot of Alaska’s new livery which was revealed the day before (but hey I have a new special scheme to hunt). We taxiied north to the 16s and after a few take offs in front of us, we lined up and held. Not sure why we held as we were the only aircraft around, no one was behind us and there hadn’t been an aircraft in front of us to wait for. Meh whatever. The 767 rolled with a little bit less vigour than what I have experienced on ER birds and were soon climbing out to the south and with a gentle right turn, signalling our turn away from the mainland headed towards sunshine and happiness.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once through 10,000ft I broke out the ipod to get some noise going but the seat belt sign did not come off for quite some time, till when we hit full cruise. I don’t know if this is a Hawaiian thing or not but to be honest it just felt like I was trapped. I have probably flown to much premium travel this year as I am to used to eating or doing whatever when I want but flying down the back of the plane means one thing, you work on their timetable. You eat when your told, drink when your told, even use the bathroom when your told. They did stress the fact that you shouldn’t be moving about before the seatbelt sign gets off, but that didn’t stop anyone (as usual).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

A couple of little bumpy bits on the climb to cruise and once at cruise the seatbelt sign came off mere moments before they began the morning service. Unlike every other airline in the USA, Hawaiian Airlines provide complimentary meals at meal times on all flights. A very rare thing and obviously I wouldn’t expect a massive meal or anything but free is free. Being that we were taking off before 9am and it still being before 6 in Hawaii, our service that morning was to be a “Continental Breakfast”. I had read online that it was a “Cheese Plate” but what was handed to me was more of a Fruit Plate, but hey, I like fruit and to be honest, prefer it over cheese. There was one solitary piece of local cheese but that was it. Meh the standout was the real metal fork! Something I did not expect to see on the meal, let alone on any US based carrier. Hell even the Aussie carriers don’t give you metal cutlery.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The breakfast service was accompanied by Tea, Coffee, Water and Juice. Coffee was of course Hawaiian and not that bad, and of course other than the usual juices on offer, there was also POG. Pass-O-Guava juice (POG) seems to be a Hawaiian staple and it is kind of like what Biscoff is to Delta, you know your flying HA when you see a POG cup onboard (though they were pouring from cans). The fruit was fresh, the coffee good and tasty (not overly hot) so breakfast went off without a hitch. I liked the fact that they gave you a little gift to take with you (instant Kona Coffee satchel) but sadly it was marked “Made in China” for something that was advertised as “Hawaiian” (well 10% hawiian at least).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

After breakfast was cleared away, another round of drinks were offered and they settled in for a long flight across the pacific. Our flight time was blocked as just over 6 hours but in reality 5h 27 minutes today apparently. A little bit of schedule padding never hurt anyone. Although my IFE jack didn’t work all that well, I could barely hear the music that was playing, I was suprised to learn that they did play one movie during the flight (Iron Man 3). Hawaiian offers Tablets for rental but you should pre book them on the ground (and you can at a seperate desk in the terminal, next to the gate) so you don’t miss out as they only load a limited amount. For this 767 flight, I would of been screwed had I not brought my laptop or tablet.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

I settled in for a long overwater flight of working, writing and coffee drinking, what seems to be the norm for me when travelling right? The crew on this flight were good and they constantly came through the cabin offering water or you could head up to the back of the aircraft to the “Snack Bar” where you could purchase a snack or pick up a drink. Really good if you ask me!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The flight kind of just cruised by and nothing all that uneventful happened. I worked, I read, I listened to some music and just generally chilled. There wasn’t much else to do really. I ended up finishing the work that I wanted to do, along with also the magazine I had brought with me (conserving tablet power for the onward flight so that I could watch some movies).

Before to long the final beverage service began and it was more of a snack service as not only could you get some free rum punch but you could also get a packet of crisps (chips whatever you want to call them) with your drink. Nice! Looking good all around for Hawaiian it seems. After my tiny tiny tiny cup of diet coke (the crew member didnt even give me more than a mouthful, after filling the cup with ice and then a splash of diet coke that was it!) I sat back and enjoyed my banana (thanks Holiday Inn) and we cruised ever closer to Hawaii.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Starting to pack things up about 45 minutes out from Honolulu seems the norm with the airline as they announced an imminent descent (15 mins earlier than most would) and that they would have to start collecting tablets etc. So not the thing you want to hear I guess if you had purchased one, as the movie on the main screen had finished.

As we started turns for descent into Honolulu the islands started to slowly come into view and I would have to say that if you are heading west from the USA out to HNL, the Starboard side of the aircraft would be the smartest bet for the best photos, as all I got was ocean. We turned over what looked like Waikiki maybe before making another right turn towards the active runway. That was a good thing for me as this was the same approach I had flown on the last time I flew to Hawaii and would mean one thing, Joint Base Pearl Hickam. Being able to get some landing shots of HNL is great, getting landing shots of HNL as you flew over what was up until a little time ago called “Hickam Air Force Base” is always great. Last time I had managed to snap an E4 on the deck with a few F-22’s on the line as well. What would be in store for me today!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we glided in over Hickam there was plenty of heavy metal on the ground with lots of C-17s and a spattering of C-5s. A number of Navy 737s and what looked like an Air Force 757 (I forget what the military designators are for those two) and lots and lots of P3s. I thought I spotted a couple of harriers but the F-22s were hiding in their revetments. Damn them jet jockies ;)

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We landed on to the 26L/08R series and had a breif taxi off the active. As soon as we were down my phone was out and linked in as I was being met on the ground by Hawaiian staff to get some empty cabin shots of one of their 330s before my flight to Auckland. So making sure that I could get that handled before I stepped off the aircraft (though being at the back of the plane meant I would be around for a while).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we taxiied towards our parking spot which was announced to be at the Interisland Terminal, there was plenty of purple & white around with Hawaiian obviously dominating out here (most obvious sentence ever). There was plenty of the Asian carriers in attendance as well, with a whole multitude of JAL 767s on the deck, a China Airlines 747 in a special livery (not sure which one) and a few Korean A330s as well.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Pulling up the Interisland terminal finally the chimes went off and everyone was set free. Not that I could go anywhere as it was jam packed the entire plane so I was literally one of the last few off the aircraft. But hey.. the things you do for a window seat right? The flight had gone really well, now it was time to do a little bit of work right?

Breakfast Chronicles: Hudson

Well the big day finally arrived yesterday morning. The culmination of all the Breakfast “research”. I gave my friend Yena all the options with one Extra one, another recommendation for something new to try that apparently has the best Biscuits & Gravy. Yena had no real idea what that was, so we went with it. Something a little bit different right? Hudson is down in the Georgetown area of Seattle which is near the Port/Boeing Field area. Pretty much its all industrial and it is fairly basic. Absolutely dive bar location and in the middle of no where, bring it on! Funnily enough its located next door to a Haunted House.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

We took a seat at the Bar (not a counter, a real bar) and the menu was left for us and some water. The Menu was fairly basic really, but there was a good range of Booze options. This is more a bar than a restaurant so that is understandable.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

I took the biscuits & Gravy and a side of hash while Yena went with something that was just crazy++ a Monte Cristo sandwhich made with French toast! Seriously! Sounded pretty awesome. Food was quick and I was barely into my first cup of coffee when it came out (ps they use Umbria coffee, so the coffee is gooooood).

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

The food was good, the biscuits were light and fluffy and the gravy was nice (though it has been a while since I have had country gravy). Prices were really reasonable and the portions not overly huge but not tiny tiny rip off. I would say that it was a good score.

Was it the best breakfast in Seattle? Probably not… however the reason I was there wasn’t all about the food, but the company. Keeping alive a tradition that the two of us have had for many years. The Brunch buddies were back in action and I made the agreement (and hopefully Yena will continue it as well) that I will keep having brunches out even if it is on my own. Going to keep trying to find the best Breakfast/Brunch in Seattle.. even if I have to do it on my own… without my buddy.

Breakfast Chronicles: Barrio

This may be the final Breakfast Chronicle before the big day when my friend Yena comes to visit.  With my Birthday last week and add on Fiona’s visit, how can I not want to go somewhere special for a Sunday Brunch before the baseball.  A while back I had asked for recommendations on twitter where to go.  The first thing that my usual source came back with was Barrio and purely based on one dish.  Pork Belly Benedict.  So I figured that with a chance to impress and a special occasion, it fitted perfectly.  The wierdest thing to start with though was that I made the reservations (as it was recommended I do so for a Sunday morning in case) via Twitter.  Pretty easy and the process was painless, if not a little bit weird.  In the end we really didn’t need one as the place was pretty quiet when we got there, but hey, doesn’t really matter.

Barrio is in Capitol Hill and just around the corner from Skillet, but a few one way streets through me off and were almost late after having to try and find a park.  The place was quiet and I already knew what I wanted to ordering for me was no issue.   The menu was pretty good, albeit wierd to be in a modern Mexican restaurant for breakfast.  The coffee is Caffe Vita so that is always a good thing. But this should give you an idea of the decor:

From Fiona's Visit

But I know you all want to see the one thing that everyone else does…. the goodies

From Fiona's Visit

That is the Pork Belly Benedict and it was AMAZING.  I wanted to lick the plate it was that good.  I could of inhaled it if it wasn’t trying to savour every bite.  My friend Dan’s Burrito looked good as well:

From Fiona's Visit

3 of the 5 people though had the benedict and all loved it!  The French toast that my friend Fiona had looked pretty good as well.  All in all a great meal!  I was so tempted to steal the coffee cups they were nice and big.

From Fiona's Visit

They even gave me some churros as a birthday gift

From Fiona's Visit

But the best thing of the morning… getting to spend time with my Friend’s, although they are more like my Yankee Family..

From Fiona's Visit

Breakfast Chronicles: Circa Neighborhood Grill & Alehouse

It has been a while since I last got out and enjoyed a good breakfast and my friends Shawna & Dan decided to make sure that I experienced the best Banana pancakes in Seattle. So this saturday morning it was off to West Seattle, not only for my first time at Circa, but also my first time heading over the West Seattle bridge and into West Seattle itself, so this post kind of shows both.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

So Circa is a little place, unassuming from the outside in the middle of just a residential neighbourhood. Funnily enough it is just walking distance from Shawna’s apartment so that’s where Dan & I parked and walked up to meet her there. It wasn’t as busy as it could have been but it was earlyish for a Saturday morning. I didn’t have to even look at the menu as it was quite simple what I was getting but the menu is pretty good. Good choice of Savoury, good choice of sweet but not overwhelming. Prices are good to.

From Seattle Life 2013

Shawna & Dan both went with scrambles and they looked good, not to big and heavy looking like a lot of places I have been to. The pancakes looked good. They were average size, came with 2 strips of bacon, some butter and 2 eggs (not in the photo). Now the banana pancakes don’t come with the usual maple syrup, they come with a very dark brown “Pecan Praline syrup”. It looks good, and it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be. What sat in front of me was a good plate of food. Not to big and definately tasted pretty damn good. The last banana pancakes I ate were really big and heavy, these were just the right size and had way more banana flavour. The bacon tasted good but imo needed to be a little bit more crispier.

From Seattle Life 2013

Overall I think these had to be the best Pancakes I have had in Seattle, they definately got it right and I don’t think it is the kid of place that has a big following online, it felt more like a small neighborhood place that is out of the way and more “hole in the wall”. I did convince Dan & Shawna to hopefully join me at Maltby Cafe for my birthday, it won’t be a huge big thing but I have a craving for a cinnamon roll.

From Seattle Life 2013

After a good breakfast (and much discussion of if that really classified as a biscuit or not), Dan & Shawna took me on a little tour of west Seattle. A drive along Alki Beach (no parks on the side unfortunately) and part of me saying to myself “I must come down here another time with the bike and go for a ride” and then to a few lookouts that overlook Seattle so that I could get a few photos. Much fun!

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

A quiet 4th July…

Last year on the 4th July I was in LA, spotting for the a full day for the first time and doing my first US Based trip. Well this year, since I had spent most of the last weeks of May/June travelling and would be spending the end of July/Beginning of August away, I figured it was better to just kick it at home and see what happens.

With no invites from friends for any parties and to be honest, was dying for a chance to just stay at home for once. That’s what I did. I took the opportunity to explore more of my own city. I took the bike down to the Burke Gilman trail early in the morning and took a nice almost 10 mile ride. It was nice to watch the city wake up by the water and not knowing where I was going was a bit of the fun. I just kept riding till I hit like 8km and then turned around and came on back.

After that I came home, did my laps in the pool since I have found that if I do it in the morning at 9am when the pool opens up, it’s usually empty and there are no children around. I was pretty angry on Tuesday when there was so many kids in the pool I couldn’t even get a single lap in without hassles. So the bliss of an empty pool at 9 in the morning was just amazing.

After a quick breakfast it was time to begin some fun (for me at least). A recipe had been teasing me for quite some time. To give you an idea of what kind of cake, heres a shot of me prepping the cake batters:

From Seattle Life 2013

And here they are prior to going into the oven

From Seattle Life 2013

Yes it’s a rainbow layer cake. An amazing cake that is 6 tiers tall, each a different colour. When frosted with a bright white frosting it lets the colours stand out brilliantly. The cake and frostings itself was nothing special. It was the assembly and the striking nature of the colours etc that make this cake a challenge and worth the effort. I played with Instagram Video a bit and uploaded it to youtube as well:

The cake turned out brilliantly and the guys at work were super impressed by it.. to be honest, I just loved seeing their reactions as only one of the staff knew what I was doing and she was super psyched to see it all come to light.

From Seattle Life 2013

I also took the cherries that I had picked last weekend and made my first attempt at jam. Mind you it was a messy effort but it was well worth it. I made a whole heap of jam and I tasted it today for the first time. It is not super sweet, it’s sugar free (used honey instead to help with the gelling) and what sweetness comes from the cherries themselves. Just the way I like it. Although on the day I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out but i am quite happy with it.

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

I finished off the day by working on a heap of photos in the backlog and just generally bumming around. I tried NOT to do to much work remotely from home but I did do a bit to make sure that I had a manageable Friday.

A quiet day, way better than my quiet attempt at a Saturday… but thats a different kettle of fish.