The First two days of the show for real have passed and they were two very different days.  The funny thing is they both started off with a run and kicking off my step goal before 9am on Monday and before 10am on Tuesday (not sure why there was an hours difference when I probably did as much walking either day).  Pretty awesome few days with Monday spent all day in and out of press conferences and other random explorations, while Tuesday was more of a me day with lots of spotting, time in the sun watching the airshow and just chilling out. The swag haul has been pretty epic with USB drives galore, baggage tags, and heaps of other goodies, but the winner so far has to go to Cessna. They gave me the most amazing pen and leather notebook binder.  The Pen is just beautiful so that may just become my new daily pen at work.  Out of all the other random swag there has been a good range of goodies and the usual expectations, but apparently I can get a 3D printed thing from GE, so I must find that. Of the air displays I have seen so far, the Harrier on Tuesday was by far the loudest thing I have EVER heard in my life.  Seriously it was just freaking insane!  Loud as all hell but watching it hover and doing compass turns about 10-15ft in the air... AWESOME!  The most disappointing display though had to of been "Jetman" he was doing it so damn high that even with my 500mm lens he was to high to even get a focus, let alone keep track of him. Back at show for more press stuff today but should get the afternoon for more me time, we shall see! Current Location: Embraer Executive Jet Pavilion - EAA AirVenture

I arrived in Madison and headed off to pick up my car.  Unfortunately there is no Emerald Aisle at Madison so it meant that I was at the whim of the staff as to what I was going to end up with.  The bags were not even close to rolling when I reached the area and the car counters were right there, so I got my keys first and was handed the keys to a Chevy Equinox.  Considering I was hoping for something like that for a week so I had some space, guess it worked out ok.  As I turned around the bags were rolling and I had my bag in hand quickly and out to the car.  But I got lost in the car park trying to find where I was meant to be going (I should pay more attention to the directions). One the flight coming in I had noticed FiFi the B-29 on the ground on the opposite side of the airport and the ladies at the National Counter had given me directions to that side of the airport.  So that is where I was headed, I got around to the far side and there wasn't all that much of a crowd which was good.  What was dissapointing though was they wanted $15 just to walk up near it, let alone get in it, and then the line to get near it was huge.  With no real cash on me, I just gave in and walk around the fence line, since I knew it would be at OshKosh later in the week.  I bode my time! I headed into the city via the nearest Walmart to pick up the chair that I was suggested to buy and a slab of water for the week.  The hotel I was staying at was right in the middle of downtown and it was an easy find via the GPS.  I was heading to the Doubletree by Hilton Madison.  When I arrived I had to wait for the hotel shuttle to stop blocking the driveway so I could stop blocking the street and once that happened I was able to park the car briefly.  Checked in nice and simply and my status was not mentioned and if I had of not mentioned it, I doubt I would of gotten any of the benefits.  I had been "upgraded" to a Deluxe room, which is really just a normal room but on the top floor (her own words).  Can't complain to much I guess.  With check in completed I was handed the Doubletree Cookie.  It was warm which was wierd as the staff had pulled it out of a draw (turns out the draws are warmers and they are baked in the morning and kept warm all day).  I was handed some parking tokens and I put my car away for the moment. The room was not to bad, for a standard hotel room.  Clean, efficient and nothing to complain about.  Crabtree & Evelyn products in the bathroom and nothing at all to complain about really.  Pictures should do the talking but there was a distinct lack of outlets around the bedside (as expected),  I counted 1.  After a quick settle in the plan was to walk into town and just explore a little, get a coffee to keep me going (since I had been up since very early) and then possibly just chill out for a bit.  I got some directions at the front desk and off I went to the State Capitol and a few other places. After some exploring and some chilling out I headed out for a dinner to a place that was close to the hotel that apparently served fantastic burgers and I was up for some goodness.  Dotty Dumplings Dowry apparently serves the best burgers in town and it was less than 2 blocks from my hotel.  Score!  I walked over and it was  nice quiet bar kinda atmosphere and when I walked in, was told that there would be a wait for a table, as soon as I said "Bar?" "You can go right over" was the reponse.  Love it!  You get the same menu and I can sit and enjoy it.  Funnily enough as I was sitting down one of the other people at the bar cleared some space for someone else and it turned out to be the owner!  Funny.  I was starting to crash out a bit by now so just took it easy and enjoyed my burger.  I had the Alumni Burger which was really just an awesome Cheeseburger.  Prices weren't bad and it was a good simple, easy, tasty cheeseburger.. What's not to like? I had seen on the drive into town a really weird looking place that was meant to be an ice cream parlour so that is where I headed for dessert and it was a unique experience to say the least.  Ella's Deli was a bit out of town (almost back out to the airport) and it had the most undescribeable eclectic decor inside.  On the outside it was 50s diner, meets carnival (including Carousel).  Famous for their Grilled Pound Cake sundae, that's what I went with.  But it was pretty generic and nothing at all special.  BIG dissapointment.  Headed back to the hotel pretty unsatisfied with that part of the adventure, ended up crashing out half way through a video.  Sad sad end to the day. Sunday 28th July 2013 I woke up pretty well rested and since I couldn't sleep as long as I had wanted to as probably had to much energy, I hit the gym for a big workout.  9.2 miles on the bike, a mile run and that should do me right?  Well not really, some ab exercises thrown into the mix as well.  Right at that moment all I wanted was to burn off some of the crap from last night and expend some energy and damn sure that is what I did.  What was good for me though was the fact that I had breakfast at the hotel, so I could at least get some coffee into me prior to hitting the road.  Breakfast was in the hotel's restaurant/sports bar and it was a pretty simple affair.  I wasn't expecting much but as long as they had plenty of fresh fruit and coffee, I would be sorted.  I was not dissapointed as I was given the entire pot of coffee. With breakfast out of the way and my route out of town planned I packed up my gear, into the car and checked out.  I mentioned that the cookies were great to reception as I was leaving and she handed me a couple more for the road.  AWESOME!  I settled in for a good drive out of town, I had about an hour and a half up to the hotel where I would drop off my stuff before another 20 minutes to get up to OshKosh from there.  Sadly it was on this drive that things didn't go to plan. About 10 Miles out of Madison I got a tire pressure warning.  I figured one of the tires must of been under inflated by the car rental office, so as soon as I found the nearest gas station I would pull in, get some air in the tire and keep on going.  Sadly no.  The nearest gas station was another 10 miles past where the warning came on, but after paying to put air into the tires (not free... wtf!) the warning wouldn't go off.  I even tried inflating with the car running to see if it was just not enough air and the gauge on the pump was wrong.  Nope that wasn't it either.  So I called up National as I didn't want to drive all the way to OshKosh and find out that the problem got worse as I would then be without a car (nearest offices are Madison or Green Bay).  They told me I should start heading back to Madison to switch the car out.  So that's what I did. When I got back to Madison airport (only depot open on a Sunday), they told me I should of been instructed to fill the car first (even though I was swapping out a faulty car wtf!) so I had to redrive the 2 miles I had just driven in, back to the nearest Gas station.  #FAIL!  Filling up the car cost me a further $10 and when I got back I wanted to make sure I had a decent car.  Again they gave me another Equinox, but this one had 1/4 of the miles of the other one, and was more pimped out with Leather seats.  After transffering all my gear between the cars (and making the National staff come get the keys of the old vehicle as I wasn't wasting any more of my morning) 2 hours after I set off for Osh originally, I was this time, really on the way.

Wow... If you have ever seen a guy with his jaw on the floor, that was me yesterday.  It was my first experience at OshKosh and I was just stunned.  The trip report will have a full run down of the mornings happenings (and it wasn't good but it was eventful) and I got to the show around about 1:30pm ish. Sunday for me was not going to be a full on day, it was meant to be a quiet, get myself orientated morning where I could get myself situated and scope out where stuff was so that Monday morning I could hit the ground running.  Well that was the smartest idea ever.  When I walked through the gates my jaw dropped.  My god how huge is this place.  Describing it in words is tough, the easiest is "imagine a sea of aircraft as far as the horizon, turn around and picture the same thing."  That is OshKosh. I got a basic tour of the place by one of the guys from EAA (thanks Brady) and it was a great way for me to figure out where to go and what to see.  I have my ideas in place of what I need to see and who I need to speak to as well.  By the time I got out of there around 4ish my head was swimming.  I still don't know how it is going to happen all week but this is going to be pure overload this week I just know it. I finished off the night by getting myself set up at the hotel and just getting my bearings on the small town that is Fond Du Luc.  It is a half decent base and it seems a lot of the guys from EAA are going to be here as well.  So far I know that Shell Aviation is staying here and some other exhibitors as well.  Good hotel choice!  Plus I found the best ice cream in town just a couple miles down the road 😉 Today is going to be my first real day at the show and things are bound to be just as crazy! Current Location: Country Inn & Suites - Fond Du Luc, Wisconsin

Introduction Seattle to Madison Saturday 27th July 2013 Early mornings suck, but for the first time in almost 2 months, there was no workout this morning, I was taking a day off.  So after the usual morning details and last minute packing stuff away, cleaning up the apartment etc.  I jumped in the truck and headed south for SeaTac.  The roads were empty (as expected) and within a brief 25 minutes I was entering WallyPark to park the truck up on the rooftop.  Gazing at the sunset for a brief second before heading on the shuttle over to the airport this adventure was about to begin properly. The airport was a bit of a shambles, but the Delta Check in was relatively quiet.  There was a line at Check in and I was using the Sky Priority lines rather than self check as I wanted to see if I could get Delta to comp my checked bag.  Though not a benefit I should get, apparently a lot of staff get themselves confused and just check it free of charge.  I must of lucked out because I got my bag free.  Even though to begin with she asked for my credit card, when I handed it over with my VA Gold Card she eventually gave it back.  Not sure if she charged it or not, but it did look like she swiped it, I was told there was no charge... we shall see.  I had my boarding passes (though they were going in the bag as I didn't want the TSA to draw all over them) and I headed for security.  I turned the corner and saw what looked like Hell on Earth.... ahhhh crap!  The normal security lines at the South Check Point were huge!  Not what I wanted to see at all.  But way off down in the distance the priority lane had no one there at all.... SWWEEEEEET!  Thank you Delta #2!  I headed for the Priority line and was through to a scanner in a matter of minutes.  Sadly though I had to go through secondary as apparently something was setting off in my camera bag that looked like a knife.  Pfft whatever. Bag back from the TSA and I headed to the train for the South Satellite.  Boarding was due to commence in about 15-20 minutes so I knew it would only be a brief pit stop in the club for a coffee and grabbing some food for the road.  The club was fairly quiet but the family that had entered ahead of me was hogging the coffee machine with words like "what button do I push" and "I think I broke it" so I gave up on the coffee notion in the hopes of a Starbucks near the gate, as I had to get a banana anyway (Delta Sky Clubs NEVER have fruit, but United does... funny that).  I grabbed what I could, snapped a few photos, even scored some good shots of the Alaska Retro Jet parked at the Maintenance base at the south end and scampered out of the club with some yoghurt pretzels in hand... yum!  Time to get to the gate. Delta Air Lines - DL2314 Seattle Tacoma to Minneapolis St-Paul 0655-1207 Boeing 757-300 (N586NW) Economy Comfort - Seat 14A Boarding: 0618 (Gate S15) Push Back: 0659 Take off Roll: 0723 (Runway 16L) Top of Descent: 1137 Touch Down: 1210 (Runway 30L) Shut Down: 1214 (Gate G15) I got to the gate area and it was in an area that was being refurbished (not sure what for?) but because it was S15 there was no way to get a shot of the aircraft I was flying, which would make finding out the registration tough.  Within about 3-4 minutes of me arriving at the gate area the preboarding started.  I joined the gate lice in the general vicinity so that I could get down to the aircraft quickly and as soon as they announced Sky Priority i was heading on my way onboard.  What greeted me was an absolute score.  I didn't realise that the seat I had picked online was literally at Door 2L.  We boarded directly in front of my seat.  Which is a bad thing really for me, because it meant that I would have everyone almost standing on me while they boarded.  Doh!  But I got seated quickly and just stuck it out as the entire aircraft boarded right in front o my face. I tried to get the registration of the aircraft off the flight attendant in my area as he was greeting people coming onboard and there was some lulls in the swarm of people.  Fail time for this crew member.  First off he told me he didn't know what a "Tail Number" is (it's what american's call the registration) and then he said "Well I know this is a 757-200, but that's it".  He had no idea!  Because sitting right in front of him was a safety card that said 757-300 and it was definitely a 300 because the aircraft was and endless walk all the way to the back.  Sadly some crew just have no idea (turns out I think he was the crew leader as well!).  Eventually the door was shut and we pushed back.  I could actually open my window at this point (as before all I saw was the endless stream of people coming onboard from the jetway) and then saw that it was dirty.  *sigh*  Hate the fact that some airlines don't wash their windows.  O well, I would just deal with it.  The aircraft taxiied out past the Alaska Retro (which must of been just starting up to head towards a gate as the beacon was running and it was under tow) and headed for the north end of the runway.  We would be taking off to the south but there was a long taxi and a hell of a lot of other aircraft ahead of us.  At one point we were 8th or more in line for departure. As we were making our way to the active, the pilots came on to say we were up to 4th in line so should be off shortly and gave the crew their warning to get ready, although he kind of got himself mixed up.  His speech went as follows: "Ladies and Gentlemen this is your Captain Speaking.  It seems we are getting closer and there is 4 aircraft ahead of us and one more about to take off, so we should be up in the air shortly.  Cabin Crew, prepare the cabin for arrival" *pause* "I mean, Cabin crew, prepare the aircraft for departure.... we are definitely leaving Seattle" It made for a great giggle as the cabin filled with laughs, and helped to make this an interesting flight.  The two cabin crew seated at door 2L looked like they had been around the block (that's probably the nicest way to put it).  Although it wasn't just the grannies on this Delta flight, one of the crew was a man, and I heard them talking about retirement and he did say he was 63.  I have a feeling the other crew member (female) was way past that age, or at least she looked it.  They did well though no matter what.  My seat mate had a quick chat and it was suprising that she was allowed to sit at the emergency exit with her arm in a sling and the crew never said or did a thing about it... WTF! We finally took off to the south, and I do love a 757 for one reason.  It was a long slow roll to begin with (which probably meant we were full of cargo) but like most 757's once they get moving and they pull those noses up, it is up lick a rocket.  How such a long aircraft can get off the ground so quickly and so steeply I have no idea. We were quickly passing 10,000ft and WifFi went on, but due to no seat in front it meant my laptop was up in the overhead bin so couldn't get to it, or anything really, till the seat belt sign came off.  People were already up and moving within seconds of that point and I was suprised the crew said or did nothing at all.  Gotta love North American airlines.  My last flight on ANA the crew would of been all angry at me if I even looked like I was going to move while the seat belt sign was on.  O how things are so different over here. In the end the seat belt sign was no where near coming off, the service had begun and I had my first cup of coffee in hand so I gave in, I got up off my butt and hit the bathroom.  I became one of "those people".  I grabbed my bags out of the overhead while I was at it and shoved them by my seat so I could access them.  Then it was time to get down to catching up with the world.  The tray table was just tiny and barely fit my laptop, but the mission was get myself online, read some blogs (though when I finally got into them, there was only one update since last night) and then do a bit of relaxing.  Since my session was free, it was all about doing the stuff online that I don't normally do and not wasting the session.  So I sat back to reading through some trip reports on flyer talk while enjoying my peanut butter bagel, some more coffee and some of the dried fruit I had "liberated" from the lounge. The flight sped by and we must of had a good tailwind as what was meant to be a 3-4 hour flight west bound, is only a 2 hour 40 minute flight today.  Awesome!  I got a good amount of stuff done and enjoyed my reading time.  I was slowly eating my way through breakfast and just chilling out and then all of a sudden the WiFi went down.  Well, it was about an hour to go, I had to put my EarPlanes back in, as good a time as any to shut stuff down.  So I packed up my gear and instead got the tablet out to do a bit of reading instead.  With a book and some more coffee (the male crew member had been drinking it most of the flight and it wasn't half bad) I was a content traveler. Descent began over cloudy skies (and to be honest I hadn't seen much out the window most of the flight anyway) and it meant I had to pack my gear up and stow it.  I kept the tablet down as it was small and could fit in the tiny tiny pocket next to the seat.  I kept reading till I had to turn it all off and we started for the final approaches into MSP.  We cleared out of the clouds above the Minnesota country side and it was nice to see a very different landscape compared to the PNW (not that I don't love living out there).  Minnesota was flat... super flat, and there was a lot of green fields.  Then it became light industrial with freight centers and things like that as we got closer and closer to the airport.  I couldn't see the airport near me so figured it was out the other side of the aircraft (which it was).  We landed fairly gently and there wasn't much of a taxi for us as we headed for the G concourse (where the heavies usually depart from at MSP). We pulled into G15, almost at the end of the concourse and one good thing about row 14, your usually first or second off the aircraft. I was off quickly and out into the terminal probably before the staff had even thought we would be as the doors to the terminal at the end of the jetway were not even open!  I forgot to grab a shot of the aircraft I just wanted to get my butt towards my gate as it was a long long walk.  O well, I have plenty of shot of Delta 757s from my tiem at LAX and SEA spotting.  It was a nice walk as I trudged along getting the steps counted in the terminal.  The walk felt like it was going forever but things started to look familiar around the central concourse area and then I knew exactly where to head.  I checked my watch and had about 10 minutes to hit the Skyclub before I would have to get moving again.  Plenty of time for a bathroom break, a quick drink, grab a snack and head off.  So I did just that! The club was pretty quiet and I did comment on that to the staff at the entrance and she told me that it was normal at this time of the day as it was just before the International departure guests should start flooding in, but she told me to enjoy it while it lasts.  I wouldn't get long but it was still nice either way.  Grabbed a quick snack (no biscoffs again!  What is with my luck and Skyclubs lately), I mean seriously!  I was hoping to grab some for the road as I seriously love those things.  I grabbed an apple instead for lunch and some vegies and it the road towards my next flight. Headed along the F concourse towards the next gate and when I got there, people were still coming off the aircraft, not a good sign as we should of been boarding literally the moment I arrived.  It did give me time to do a few things, like catch up on emails and stuff that had come through while I was in the air prior to arrival and make a few tweets.  I did get a decent shot of my next aircraft and then just waited.  I did approach the counter to see if I could get a better seat (figuring the flight was full) but they told me it wasn't and then put me in a AB seat pair with a blocked adjacent seat.  Thank you Delta!  Though the system crashed right as he went to print my new boarding pass, I could sympathize with this and I was happy to wait a few extra minutes since I wasn't going anywhere anyway.  My old seat ended up going to someone standing next in line at the counter trying to adjust the seats for his family of 5.

Delta Air Lines - DL725 Minneapolis St Paul to Madison 1315-1416 McDonnell Douglas MD-90 (N948DN) Economy Class - Seat 23A

Boarding: 1255 (Gate F8) Push Back: 1324 Take Off Roll: 1335 (Runway 30R) Top of Descent: 1357 Touch Down: 1413 (Runway 36) Shut Down: 1417 (Gate 7) I boarded once they called Sky Priority and headed down the jetway towards what would be a new aircraft for me.  The MD-90 is an ellusive aircraft in Australia (all of the MDs are) so I figured that getting myself on them when I can is a good idea.  This Mad Dog looked good on the inside and I could swear it had been refurbed recently as it looked slick.  The nice new Delta slim line seats were in evidence and that could not be laughed at.  Even the overheads looked like they had been refitted as they just looked awesome.

I settled into my seat and wondered if I was really going to end up with a blocked seat next to me.  The crew were pushing hard to get us out on time so they were trying everything to get people seated.  Near that family I had given up my seat for up front a lady was causing a bit of a ruckus and blocking the aisle.  That didn’t last long as the crew member settled her down in an instant with the words “it’s a 32 minute flight, perhaps you should just deal with it”.  The cabin laughed and the lady had been put in her place.  I mean seriously why bother for a 30 minute flight.

We did push back eventually and it wasn’t all that late, but I had a feeling this schedule had been padded pretty big if it’s a 32 minute flight with an hour block time.  That’s what happens in the hub cities, when you spend half the time taxiing or on the ground, they put in major block time. We had a fairly quick taxi over to 30R as the take offs were dueling at that point in time.  It was RJ central on our side though, with CRJ after CRJ after CRJ heading for the runway.  It was finally our turn in line.  No real view out my wet window though, till we got rolling at least. Another rocket ship take off and it is slightly wierd to not see any engines when your sitting over the wing.  A great view as we took off with a 757 adjacent to us, though I am pretty sure I missed the perfect shot as we both banked away.  This was going to be a quiet flight though as the crew announced that this was a short flight so service would only be offered “if required”, which is code for “we can’t be bothered”. I settled in to eat my apple and snacks and did not even see the crew at all during the flight, it was as though they did not exist.  The trash sat on the seat next to me till we were almost into Madison past descent.  What suprised me was how quick those MD’s could descend.  It felt like the pilot was throwing it around.  Speaking of the pilot, the Captain had the most amazing sounding Pilots Voice.  He had that voice that you expect all the pilots on TV to have.  That voice that just had that iconic sound, it is hard to describe but it just commands authority and calmness all at the same time.  As we headed into MSN on finals he gave his farewell speech and it was long winded but I didn’t care.  It was also the first time I had heard a pilot ask everyone to say thank you to a service member, like himself.  He must of been in the Air Force because he had said his rank was Lt Col and I was tempted to go up and hand over one of my cards.  I held back though. As we came into Madison I noticed something off in the distance as we turned off the runway.  I saw a giant silver tail.  It looked awfully familiar, I wasn’t sure if I was mistaken or not but I could of sworn it was FiFi.  FiFi the B29 Superfortress, the only one in existence still flying, was due to be in Osh later in the week, but to see it here... Awesome!!  It was it and I made the decision right then and there to 100% go and see it no matter what.  We pulled up to the gate and by the time the aircraft emptied out enough for me to get out, it had been long enough for me to confirm via the web that it was in fact FiFi and she was on the opposite side of the airport to me.

Madison airport was suprisingly modern looking and the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the store filled with cheeseheads but more the actual nice looking concourse.  This tiny airport in the middle of no where in the midwest was way better than Seattle!  So not fair.  I headed down to baggage claim but saw the car desks first with no one around.  Figure may as well get my car keys first since there is no emerald aisle.  I spotted my rental contract already printed ready to go from my side of the counter, and within 2-3 minutes I had the keys to a Chevy Equinox in hand.  Which is pretty good beause that is the kind of car I wanted.  I was hoping for a small SUV for the week so that I had space to spread out my crap when commuting back and forth to Osh.  Plus the hatch would make it easier getting the gear out when I needed it.

Keys in hand, bag in hand after about 10 or so bags came off the belt and I was headed out into the Car park to find my car.  I did get lost as I hadn’t listened to the directions properly and found the Equinox way way way way way out the back of the rental lot.  Farewell Madison Airport... time to hit the road!  

Around this time in 2012, I had been watching all the tweets going on for the OshKosh EAA AirVenture and was totally jealous of all the Avgeek good times that were going on. I couldn't stand it any more after a solid week of it and decided right then and there, I HAD to go. I set it in stone that in 2013, come hell or high water, I was going. What is AirVenture? It is the largest gathering of General Aviation in North America, if not the world. Put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) based in OshKosh Wisconsin, it is a week long Avgeek mecca where you can learn all about how to build your own aircraft or just sit back and watch the airshows happening daily. The hardest thing I knew from the outset would be arranging accommodation for a week long trip to the middle of no where for a giant gathering like this. Thankfully I had a boat load of Club Carlson Points thanks to their promos last year. I made the booking for what accommodation I could get during the festival and was happy that from the Sunday to the Saturday I was covered, but there was a downside. The closest I could get was in Fond Du Luc which was a good 20 miles to the South, but to be honest, a 25 minute drive each day where I wouldn't have to pay for a room, or camp (like so many people prefer to do) would make my life so much better. So I ended up booking the Country Inn & Suites Fond Du Luc and set about to make the following drive every day for a week: oshkoshmap After that it was pretty much sit back and wait, the rest I would deal with after a while. I ended up booking the accommodation at a good time, because a couple of months later I wanted to see if i could add an extra night once I had some more points with Carlson, yeah nope! Nothing left at all, so I guess I was going to have to find alternative arrangements. I left the first & night of my trip unbooked (as why go Sunday to Saturday only for vacation when I have two other days free) and waited till I could get flights. Fast Forward 6 or so months and some airfares are starting to drop in price for my dates. So it's time to get searching. I used the ITA Matrix and a few other tools to try and work out the best way to get to Oshkosh. Now Oshkosh is a small town in the middle of no where, so I figured I wouldn't be able to fly in directly. Instead it meant flying into an outlying city and driving in from there. So I was looking at Milwaukee  Madison, Green Bay and Even Chicago, but the fare difference vs driving distance from Chicago just made it pointless, so that idea was scrapped. In the end Delta had the best fares (I was comparing Delta & United) but it wasn't just cost I was looking at (since they were just extortion on any airline to that area). I wanted to try and get new airports obviously, since I am an avgeek after all. In the end i went with into Madison and out of Green Bay. I did however have to come home a day early. The map isn't so impressive as I was connecting in Minneapolis in both directions.
My Daily Commute for the Trip

SEA-MSP-MSN/GRB-MSP-SEA... boring huh?

So with the flights all booked and when broken down look like this: 27th July 2013 - DL2314 - Seattle to Minneapolis St Paul - 757-300 - 0655-1207 27th July 2013 - DL725 - Minneapolis St Paul to Madison - MD-90 - 1315-1415 03rd August 2013 - DL4828 - Green Bay to Minneapolis St Paul - CRJ-900 - 1715-1824 03rd August 2013 - DL996 - Minneapolis St Paul to Seattle - 767-300 - 1930-2115 It was a good variety of aircraft with my first domestic 767 flight with Delta and my first 757-300 in quite some time.  I love these ultra long birds!  For some reason I was able to assign an exit row at booking for no extra cost.  Unsure why, as they don't normally let me do that but hey, who cares! With that all booked and having to forgo my final night of holiday and return home on the 3rd (which was probably a good thing as it meant I could clean up and do stuff before having to go back to work on the Monday without an issue.  But where to stay on the Saturday night?  Since I was getting in Mid afternoon, do I drive straight to OshKosh?  Do I stay in Madison for the first night and have a real vacation night, before driving off the next morning.  Madison it is!  I might as well have a day of rest right, before all the bedlam begins. With that I searched around for where to stay in Madison.  Most places around downtown were around the $100 a night mark but that didn't include any food, or parking.  Hrmmmmmm.  Since my Hilton Gold status was still floating around, and my Club Carlson status was still Gold as well, I figured that it would be easier to just target those two chains.  The Radisson included breakfast but no parking.  The Doubletree downtown (in a good location) had free parking and my Hilton Gold would give me breakfast.  I waited before booking to see if there was going to be any special promos or anything but sadly there was not.  So I used a promo that came out for a new service called Pointshound which allowed you to double dip as they would provide you with extra points for just making a booking with them, and still keep your program benefits with Hilton.  Sounds good to me! So that was all my hotels arranged and the car was booked with National (though there isn't an Emerald Aisle at Madison Airport, so this would be interesting experience at the least).  The rate on the car was not to bad for a solid 8 day rental so I can't really complain.  With my passes to OshKosh arranged via the Media desk thanks to my work with AirlineReporter it was all settled, now it was just time to wait.  The emails coming in from the Media announcements did not help with the excitement and pretty soon... It all began!

My next adventure is fast approaching, Just a quick, short post (As there will be a full trip report and also posts from the road) to say that on Saturday I get to embark on what could be an epic adventure, but then it might not be. Last year during the OshKosh airshow I saw all the tweets of everyone having a great time full of Aviation goodness, and I was jealous. So jealous that I decided I couldn't stand not going, so I decided that this year, I was going. So now I am! I managed to get a weeks worth of accommodation out of a Club Carlson promo last year that was run for points, so my accomodation is essentially free. I have a media pass for the show thanks to my work with AirlineReporter and I had to end up paying for my car hire and the flights, so all up a weeks vacation would run me about $800. Which ain't half bad really! (the flights were super expensive to the middle of no where). I have started an extra little category that is just for Osh Adventures but the trip report will be written that is for sure and I will try to keep a running blog on the go from the road about adventures each day. I am looking forward to not only getting out to see everything but just what each day is going to hold since there will be so many new experiences and people to meet. Not only that but all the new tech coming out for the avgeeks and the media access I should get as well (let's see if I can get myself in the air!). Stay tuned for lots of fun times ahead!

Things are progressing towards my triathlon about 6 weeks away and I have realised 1 thing over the last weekend. Triathlons are expensive! The entry fee alone is almost $90 but I guess I have to eat that with this challenge. Considering its a run, a ride and a swim that's three entry fees combined into one (at least that's what I keep telling myself). The other thing that is expensive is the gear! I went shopping on Saturday to get my tri gear and god damn! It is not cheap at all. 2 pieces of clothing set me back almost $160 with tax! Not cheap at all. If I had of thought of this earlier i probably could of saved money and bought it all through the web (and earned a boat load of more points in the process) but sadly my pre thinking did not happen and I wanted to try and get in some training before the big trip out to Osh next week. $160 for two pieces of clothing, what is so good about them... well this is what they look like: As you can see, there isn't much clothing there at all, and they definately don't leave much to imagination. The clothes may not look like much, but god damn are they worth it! The shorts are designed so that you can run, swim and ride in them, so there is minimal padding in the groin region but just enough to keep you from wanting to kill things due to the pain. It's also designed to dry off super quick, so that when you start to ride or run, you aren't dripping wet. The downside to these are that they are super tight obviously and also the same with the top. It's meant to be tight to cover you up and wick away any sweat etc, but that just makes it all the more hideous looking. I pity the people who will see me on race day! So what makes them worth it other than how good they are? Well it's amazing how well things go when you have something that actually works. My swimming time has dropped dramatically and the new goggles I got at the same time (since the other ones actually fell apart) have helped me get more focused and do really help. I don't have to stop every few laps to fix the goggles on my face, they just work and with the new tri gear, since its tighter, it's not slowing me down. My first swim way back when was 28 mins for the 30 laps. Today i smashed it out in 14 minutes! I may have been totally out of breath and shattered after, but doesn't that mean I have had a good work out. So I say sorry in advance to anyone that sees me in the tri gear, but it's worth it dealing with how horrendous I look for the benefits it gives back

O how life has become so boring for me lately. Workout, Work, Eat, Sleep rinse repeat. To be honest though, I wouldn't have it any other way. I have been working hard this week getting more serious about my training and with two days of running (Monday & Thursday), two swims so far this week (Tuesday & Thursday), I have been pushing it hard. But other than working out, what has been going on in mal's life? Well to be honest, not much. So here is some photos of planes, this should keep the #avgeek friends of mine happy: Norwegian Air Shuttle's first 787
From Seattle Spotting 2013
Qatar Airways Cargo 777F
From Seattle Spotting 2013
A Hello Kitty painted Eva Airways A330
From ANA Ambassador Spotting & Artistic
Singapore Airlines New 777-300ER
From Seattle Spotting 2013
The ANA 787 that took me to Japan last month
From ANA Ambassador Spotting & Artistic
KLM MD-11 sucking in some Vapor at LAX
From LAX Spotting June 2013
Star Alliance painted 777-300ER from ANA departing LAX
From LAX Spotting June 2013
A Phillipines 777-300ER departing Vancouver
From Memorial Day Spotting
Transaero 777-300 in New York
From Memorial Day Spotting

The last few days (well since Saturday) I have felt that my leg is slowly improving, and by slowly I mean slowly. Ever since I got told what I had strained and how to combat it, i have been working on the stretches and the fixes. It seems to be working. This should show you by how much: Yep those say run. I have managed to get in two runs and come out fairly ok. I am not going to over do it and those runs if you look at the lap times (since it auto laps at 1km) I am running intervals. 1km on, 1km off. With 3km on and 2 km off total, it turned out pretty well. The last km is usually the most painful, the 2nd run usually the most comfortable, as my leg has usually warmed up by that point. I don't know if it is working or not, but I sure am happy that I can at least run partially, sure beats spending all my time on the bike lately, but even that has it's moments.

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