This morning I got myself back in the Saddle, the bike saddle that is. I feel it in my legs right now but I just needed something different after all the running I have been doing lately. Bootcamp was cancelled (meaning that my total bootcamp sessions for March came to 1, go failure!) so after thinking to myself “I can’t be assed running” and thinking that I needed to still do something and not cop out. I pondered an exercise bike in the gym but with the perfect blue sky outside, I just had to get back out there.

The blue sky outside just made it seem all so much better but it was still pretty cold and without all my riding gear (still no bike shorts, gloves etc) I just sucked it up. My hands may have gone frozen but meh I will live (turns out I had actually shoved my running gloves in my pocket, I didn’t realise this till AFTER my ride.. #fail). It was good though to get back onto the bike. I was a bit shaky to start with and I hadn’t ever rode around this area so it was different to my normal routine. I wasn’t pushing myself all that hard really because I knew that I was exploring more than anything.

The ride was good as you can see

With my usual 10k smashed in not to bad of a time so that was a good bit. But now my calves feel it, but at least my knees arent to bad. But the bike goes back in the Storage area now, till I get back from Aus in 2 weeks. That trip (which I will post more about tomorrow) is coming up FAST. And I can’t WAIT!

I wasn’t going to write up a book review on this one but by the time i finished it i just bad to.

Without Hesitation

The book is Without Hesitation by General (Ret) Hugh Shelton. Your probably thinking right now “another boring military biography” and that is kind of what I thought originally. This book was a gift from my parents so I never chose it, but I am glad they did.

Although probably not written in a fashion I like (where it jumps around a bit) it was a fascinating and inspirational read nonetheless. Probably need to give you some background first though. General Shelton was in the US Army leading Infantry, paratroopers & special forces as fsr back as Vietnam. When he left the service in 2001 (just after September 11) he finished up his time as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). What is the “Joint Cheifs of Staff?” Well they are the leaders and top advisors for each of the US Military Services. You have the Cheif of Staff for the Air Force, Cheif of Staff for the Army, Marine Corp Commandant and the Chief of Naval Operations. Along with other staff members and the Chairman and his Vice, these Generals and Admirals become the sounding board for the US President on military matters. Though the Chairman doesn’t necissarily run the day to day operations of the Military forces he is like the President’s right hand man.

I hadn’t really read anything on the JCS so this portion of the book was great, but the biggest thing I got from the book was the part I didn’t really like the most. Like I mentioned before the book jumped around a lot. At the end of each chapter it flashes back to the “present” so you may have been reading a chapter about Vietnam then the last few pages of the chapter your reading about the present. But that is the part that really suckered me in. These “Flash Forwards” are about how the General had fallen off a tree and suffered a spinal injury, an injury that he was told he would never recover from. Well that’s where the inspiration comes in. He DID recover and in fact is still alive today and walking (though from what I read he didn’t get full 100% mobility back, but he may have by now). Reading about his recovery, his determination to prove that point that no matter what you set your mind to, it can be done.

It set me back to the way that I had been with my weight loss. Reading about his recovery, his determination to just prove them wrong to do it for no one but himself, that hit home. I highly recommend this book to anyone, not only for the military and leadership side of things, but for that read to get inspired to do the things that you don’t think you can, that others tell you that you can’t. To defy what others will think.

This will be the first of a few posts spanning a couple of months I an terming “The Breakfast Chronicles”.

My friend Yena surprised me a month or so back with a fantastic gift, shes coming to visit. Back home in Aus we had a little tradition of trying to outdo each other with amazing breakfast locales. Well I promised her the best breakfast in Seattle when she comes ti visit. So between now and August, time for “research”. I’ve already visited a few pretty great breakfast spots like Patty’s Egg Nest, Randys, Beth’s Cafe, Skillet Diner & The Maltby Cafe. There was one place that I had heard great things about though, Brown Bag Cafe.

From Seattle Life 2013

The cafe is located in Kirkland just off the 405 (eaiser to access coming from the south, north requires a but of detouring). The cafe looks like tiyr generic Dennys/pizza hut style building from the outside. Inside is definitely a little bit more homely.

From Seattle Life 2013

I got here and there was no wait, however as I was leaving (around 10am on a Sunday) the rush had hit and there was about a half hour wait for tables. Definitely come early if you dont like to wait. No counter though if you like that kind of thing (i do).

Big portions are the norm at some of these traditional diner style so be prepared for that. Come with an appetite! I was having a mini celebration of my own so made sure I ran first thing this morning.

From Seattle Life 2013

More known for their baked goods and their home baked breads I was more in a pancake mood and the Banana Pecan pancakes were just what I wanted, went with a “Full Stack” which I thought would be 4 pancakes. It was only 3 (which is how many i wanted anyway).

From Seattle Life 2013

The service was slow but the food not to bad. Took a good half hour or more for my pancakes to come out but that I guess isn’t to bad. Gave me plenty of time to write a few emails etc. The pancakes were big but bot overly huge. They were ‘plate’ size but not pizza pan size like at Randys. The short stack of 2 probably would of been better in hindsight.

From Seattle Life 2013

When they first came out I saw the garnish of bananas on top and thought “is that it?” I didn’t realise until I was a few bites in that there was a goof amount of banana and pecans in the pancakes themselves.  Pretty good amount actually.

From Seattle Life 2013

Price wasn’t bad with a scoop of ice cream to go with my pancakes (i like ice cream with sweet pancakes not butter/cream), coffee and tip & tax came out to $20 and for the amount of food, worth it. I saw other plates come out and it all looked good.

Food was good, service slow, atmosphere ok, not a bad option, but I would probably go to Maltby first over Brown Bag.

Woke up this morning, hit snooze like most fridays for that extra 5 minutes of warmth. Alarm goes off again *doh* out of bed, get myself ready for my morning run… open the curtain… F#$K

From Seattle Life 2013

Yeah… that happened last night. I still went running in it though 😉 Pretty stupid but hey… why the hell not! As you can see it snowed at my place last night. Normally I am just south enough of the “convergence zone” that it doesn’t hassle me all that much. Yeah well, not today! It was falling pretty heavy around 530 when I woke up so that meant a great run this morning. A run where at one point i was running into the driving snow, so every step was not only drenching my feet, but at the same time having snow smack me in the face 🙁 But it only made me a minute or so slower than usual, so I can forgive that at least.

From Seattle Life 2013

It was my trip to work that was interesting. I figured that things were not going to be pretty on the road (they weren’t to bad) but I left as soon as I could to get my butt to work on time. So that’s what I attempted to do, but because I was taking photos of the snow, I missed the bus by 2 minutes. Damn. Then I realised I had left half my breakfast behind and since I had at least 15 minutes till the next bus, I’ll trudge through the snow to Safeway and grab what I need.

From Seattle Life 2013

So I did and took a few more photos by the time I got to the next Bus Stop, a bus was meant to show up within minutes. It didn’t. By the time I got on my bus I had already been 45 minutes since I left home. I get to the Park & Ride to watch a bus drive away. Again I gotta wait! Over an hour from when I had left home. I am finally stepping foot onto the main bus that gets more more than 1.5 miles from my apartment.

From Seattle Life 2013

Mind you I was enjoying seeing all the snow but it took over 90 minutes to get to work! I won’t complain though as by the time I got home… it looked like this:

From Seattle Life 2013

Can’t complain about Blue Sky & Sunshine!

A year ago today (well almost.. give or take a time zone) I had an appointment with the US Consulate in Sydney. A Morning interview that would make me as nervous as all hell, caused adventures but in the end got me where I am today. That was the day that my Visa application was approved and that I got to finally make the move over here to the USA a reality. Up until that day a year ago it was all not real. After that moment. Everything was real, there was no going back.

Well a lot has changed since a year ago, I am over here now, I have a new life, a new way of doing things, new friends, new truck!. This is a life and a decision I do not regret in anyway (no matter how much I complain about the cold). That day a year ago in Sydney was the decision that changed my life for the better.

Now looking forward as I have a year left on this visa, I am changing a few things on the blog. Updating it to a new look to fit in with a new me. Eventually I will try and update that logo up there and fix things up a bit, make the blog stand out. I don’t want to move this blog to much away from what it has always been about. Me. My life, just enjoying the way I want to do things and writing down the mindless drivel that i think about.

So stay tuned, look forward with me as I work my way into a 2nd year here in the USA. A time where I will need to work out ways to keep me around, cause I hate to say it Australia…. I don’t want to go home.

Well it was a highly productive weekend. I didn’t do all that much but did spend a good portion of it cleaning and getting stuff fixed up. It’s spring (not that you can tell) and that means spring cleaning right? Well I got stuck into it with a mountain of chores and updates around the apartment. Cleaning, replacing, fixing, doing stuff I have been putting off for ages.

I had a couple of good finds though over the weekend. When at the local thrift store looking for a cheap throwaway backpack (which if anyone in Seattle wants to donate me a backpack they no longer want.. thanks!) I found this

That is an old Australian Army Diggers Hat (not sure what they are actually called) like my Grandfather had. I found it for a whole $5!!! Just $5, are you kidding me! That is unclaimed bounty right there! I wouldn’t get one back home for that price at all. I would be lucky if the badge was $5. So thank you very much USA!

I got some new sheets for my bed, tidied up the closet, did a lot of chores like scrubbing etc, I also trashed the herb garden as they were all dead and I will try and replant them when I get back from Aus. Cleaned up the storage closet a bit as well (while restocking the drinks in the fridge). All in all pretty productive.

Of course I spent some of my weekend at Paine Field (what did you expect) and although I didn’t get one of the aircraft I was after I did get a new one that will be on my new hunting list (once it’s painted) but this one was a major hit:

That is a US Navy E-6 Mercury. Also known as a TACMO or Take Charge and Move Out (love it when their acronyms make less sense than the name!). It did a missed approach while I was waiting for the dreamlifter to depart yesterday and it was such an awesome score. I was listening into LiveATC and then all of a sudden I hear a half transmission with the word “heavy” in it. That usually means a 747 or 767 or 787 but there was definately none of those around today the only thing scheduled was the Dreamlifter and I was looking at it. So it came a bit closer and again I couldn’t make out the call sign I thought I heard “Sentry” but I don’t think that was it. By the time it came close enough for me to tell in the lens what it was, I was excited. 4 engines, no upper deck means something that doens’t usually come to Everett! SCORE!

I have only ever seen an E-6 once before and that was at Aviation Nation so was pretty excited by the capture. It did one missed approach and she was gone. Flash in the pan catch! Next weekend will be pretty quiet but I did ground myself prior to my trip, so I will suffer the travel bug.

Tonight was a first for me in 2 ways. Firstly i stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to do yoga, something i always criticized saying it waa just an hour or so of stretching. Secondly for my first ever yoga experience I went for hot yoga, which according to my trainer is the hardest their is.

It all started when my trainer suggested that instead of a bootcamp session we could all go to the Ashram Hot Yoga in Kirkland. 2 sessions $10 what do I have to lose? To be honest I have always been skeptical about yoga. So many people swear by it. I always said it waa just stretching for an hour and it allows people to think it was a work out.

Hot Yoga takes that stretching and you do it in a sauna pretty much. Sounds easy right? Not for me! Since i have no balance at all well this was going to be interesting. The heat was not a problem, I felt like I was back in Qatar, with the heat, the warmth, o so good! Even though I probably sweated like never before the heat was not an issue. It was something I could dream of any time it drops below zero (Celsius that is).

The moves and everything was my downfall I had no coordination, no idea what I was doing at all and at times just kind of tried to keep up. With only 2 stops when I was out of breath I thought I did pretty well consideringy flexibility needs work.

Am I going to do it again? Sure. I think it might work better for me doing hot yoga over a massage (which I don’t often get because they never do me any good or so I think) when I need that stretch my muscles need.

Seattle to San Francisco
Aloft San Francisco Airport
San Francisco to Atlanta
Atlanta to Newark
Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark
Newark to Minneapolis
Minneapolis to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

This trip though seemingly was meant to be a comfortable one, by the end of Sunday night I was about ready to murder people. I was tired, cranky and bored and I just wanted to get home and sleep. Totally different to how I ended my Dallas run, and it was in economy!

I got a lot out of this trip, I have worked down my processes on booking/organising these runs. I have helped develop my choices and rules in regards to hotel stays etc. I even decided I need to get my butt back to Atlanta. But the main thing I got out of this run was the points.

Lets break it down. My United flights were credited to Aegean and got me the following:

SEA-SFO – 500 Points
SFO-SEA – 500 Points
Total – 1000 Points

Not much, but its better than nothing.

My Delta flights though… they earned big time:

SFO-ATL – 3209 Points & 80 Status Credits
ATL-EWR – 1118 Points & 40 Status Credits
EWR-MSP – 1512 Points & 60 Status Credits
MSP-SFO – 2384 Points & 80 Status Credits
Total – 8223 points & 260 Status Credits

That is well over the half of the 400 Status credits I need to requalify for the year. I am well and truly requalified now for 2013 and the awesome thing is I am stretching towards platinum. The only thing this trip did not get me was my minimum 4 segments with VA. This has been covered by my trip home in April.

Looking back at what I actually did and the reviews, I will have to say that Delta Skyclubs are far superior compared to United Clubs, that my experience comparing say premium check in and services between Delta & United is pretty much on par with each other (though the Delta Phone App still has a bit of work to go compared to United in keeping boarding passes active) and there is no real winner here. Onboard services looking at the two. I would say United is better for hot drinks with the bigger cups, Delta better for cold drinks and the free snacks (Untied gives you nothing). First class, well I only did Delta on this but compared to United. I would go with Delta.

The trip overall was a major success but I know a few things I will be doing in the future with these kinds of runs:

1. No layover Greater than 2 hours if possible
2. Try to pick hotels that are either close to food or have a restaurant on site
3. If less than 6 hours at a hotel, cheap and comfortable is ok.
4. Try to get back home at least before 10pm so I can get some sleeep!
5. Steer clear of the Trail mix and Chocolate coated pretzels

Comfy Run

Seattle to San Francisco
Aloft San Francisco Airport
San Francisco to Atlanta
Atlanta to Newark
Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark
Newark to Minneapolis
Minneapolis to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

Apoligies in advance but this is going to be the most boring portion of this trip report.  By the time I made it through to Check in at T3 and found out that I couldn’t get home any earlier.  I was just totally over it.  I was tired and wanting some sleep.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  I had 5 hours to waste, so I figured I would clear TSA and head to the International Terminal to the United Club there, I had never been there before and figured it might as well be worth visiting.

I cleared TSA (and at the same time, forgot that I had a bottle of water in my bag… absolute fail move) and then by the time I was finally through I had missed out on the Air China 747 pushing back.  I walked on over to the United Club, and wow… is it crap compared to a Delta Sky Club.  I have to admit… Delta wins the lounge competition that is for sure!

I settled in and caught up on the trip report and some other work, and then by the time that was finished I figured incase I fell asleep in the lounge, it would probably be smarter to at least be in the right terminal.  So I walked over to Terminal 3 and the united club there, and then promptly did the most boring thing ever.  I sat back and trolled the internet.  I wrote a couple of letters, I did some reading, I spent some cash ordering a new running watch.  O so thrilling.

What I was not to proud about doing was eating my weight in Chocolate Coated Pretzels.  Yes they are tasty, but it was a stupid move doing that.  Pretty sure I made myself sick eating them.  I got so tired and angry at myself that i decided to go and do a lap of the entire terminal, then go hang out by the gate and remote into work with the free wifi and test out the laptop connection ready for my next trip.

The gate area was ok, fairly empty and I just settled in with the rest of the crowds waiting for the flight to board as I did a bit of work.

United Airlines – UA971
San Francisco to Seattle-Tacoma
Airbus A319 (N863UA)
Economy Class – Seat 25A

Boarding: 1855 (Gate 68)
Push Back: 1930
Take Off Roll: 1845 (Runway 1R)
Top of Descent: 2103
Touch Down: 2131 (Runway 34C)
Shut Down: 2136 (Gate N16)

The flight was called and the scrum began to get onboard as they were telling people if they were in Boarding Group 5, you have no chance of overhead bin space and to just gate check the bags right there and then.  I got onboard and asked if Channel 9 was going to be active.  This was the first time in like 10 United flights that I was on a legacy United aircraft so was looking forward to some Channel 9.  But sadly… nope!  I was rudely informed by the FA that they would NOT be having Channel 9 on, even if I asked nicely.  I tweeted my displeasure about said incident.

The cabin was old school, but comfortable and it filled up pretty damn quickly.  Even though I was way down the back, by this stage I didn’t care.  I was to busy trying to keep my eyes open.  I read my book as we pushed back and headed over to the dual 1’s.  We lined up next to another aircraft and although I didn’t have Channel 9 I was kind of pretending I could hear it with my brain thinking “United 971 Cleared for Takeoff Runway 1 Right”

We took off (without a companion on the dual runways) and climbed into the sky.  The flight was going to be all sorts of boring.  Reading, nodding off, and a drinks run in the next 1 hour and 45 or so minutes.  Yay!  The only highlight of the flight was getting the whole can during the drinks service!  I was impressed at least.

I managed to finish my book and also have a bit of a chat with my seat mate as we descended into Seattle (maybe a 3rd client for the trip) and we touched down in Seattle with a nice thump.  Not bad!  We taxiied quickly to the N terminal where I was not in a hurry to get off as being up the back, I knew it wouldn’t be quick.  By the time I was off, it was onto the Train to the terminal, then the shuttle to the car park, then home to my apartment.

22 hours after I woke up in Newark… I was putting head to pillow in Seattle.  Way to long of a day 🙁

I went spotting over the weekend or as I described the weekend to my work collegues “hunting for aircraft”. I was out to try and get a few particular aircraft that had been out and about and were pretty rare.

Well I managed to get 3 of the 4 I had been hunting. First up… the Elusive Uzbekistan Airways 767-300ER:

From Seattle Spotting 2013

They have suprisingly ordered 2 767s and this is the first of them. It has only done a couple of flights and I only caught this one on a rare occurence that I was already at Paine waiting for something else when it lodged a flight plan and got taxi clearance within 10 minutes of each other (all while I was in the bathroom!).

Next up we have the American Airlines 777-300ER:

From Seattle Spotting 2013

Now I have shots already of the AA 77W but never in full livery as this is the first one that is factory fresh, fully painted in the new livery. Managed to get it several times over the weekend but this is one of my better shots. Saturday’s shots were with a nice lovely blue sky, but just not as good as I had a tail chopped off here, a nose chopped off there but still.. very pretty:

From Seattle Spotting 2013

The new livery is growing on me as I think that it is much better in person, than seen in pictures.

The third catch is the Saudia Cargo 747-8F:

From Seattle Spotting 2013

Their first 747-8F and my first glimpse of this bird. It is exceedingly boring compared to Cargolux, NCA or even Air Bridge Cargo who all have much better liveries on their 747-8F (though not as bland as Korean Air Cargo). But still, its a pretty rare site so will take what I can get.

Also managed to get a new airline to my list being Minaldo who look to be a Lion Air offshoot and they haven’t even started flying yet!

From Seattle Spotting 2013

As I was waiting for this one to head back out after a landing, the fog rolled right in, so much so you could barely see the aircraft:

From Seattle Spotting 2013

Made for an exciting weekend that’s for sure. Some days, I just love living in Seattle!