It's currently the end of May. So far this year my mileage balanace for total travelled miles is 0. That's right, a big giant Donut. I need to fly! I must get up in the air, now, anywhere.. please just let me fly. When I saw a fare sale on a weekend telling me that fares to Alaska were $100 each way... well.. guess where I am going!! Since I had considered going to Alaska at the end of last year during my "$100 Challenge" and instead went to Kansas, might as well tick another state off my list right? So after finding a decent weekend that would work with the fares (sadly on United so that is going to be interesting, since I have't flown them intentionally in a while) and work as well, I locked it in. The hotel actually cost more than the flights in this situation. Hotel prices in Anchorage just are not cheap (well it is cruise ship season I guess) but I managed to find a decent rate at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport. Considering I intend on spending most of my time taking photos around the airport I might as well stay close by right? Saves having to go that far after getting off a flight at like 1am in the morning. The hardest part of the trip planning was arranging a car. Normally I would just book the usual National car rental in a mid size, pick up off the Executive line and all would be good. But a few friends had suggested previously that a Truck is needed for spotting. Since I wouldn't have access to a step ladder and with fairly large fence lines in some area, I needed to get an MFAP. What's an MFAP? A Mobile Fence Avoidance Platform... aka a Truck. Normally I would avoid driving a truck when renting. I drive one at home, why do I need another one? Well since I need it, I might as well get it. But for some reason the only company that had availability for one was Enterprise. I even had the National Car Rental Social Media team check for me. Nada. O well 🙁 So I booked the truck rental, the hotel and the flights and with everything fast approaching (tonight) I can finally get back up in the Air!! A Map right about now would look fairly boring and since it is just up and back on United, that is fairly boring. But the plane spotting will be good (if I am lucky I will get a lot of freighter traffic and HOPEFULLY a Everts Commando), the weather might hold out, but no matter what. I am up for whatever it brings. Bring on the Travel!!!!!

Normally if I have a post about packing, it would generally be about an upcoming trip (And there is one of those at the end of this week) but this time, the packing refers more to the household kind. My lease is up at my current apartment on the 22nd of June. That weekend would mean that it is time for me to either stay in the current apartment or move somewhere else. Considering at the moment I enjoy my location due to it's closeness to Paine Field. On a good day I am maybe 10-12 minutes drive away from the field so I can catch those good Boeing departures. But lately, weekend test flights have been less and less prevalent and with all the good stuff mainly flying over the week when I am at work, well, there isn't much of a point of being so close to the field. Sadly my current location though convenient for weekends, is not at all great for commuting to work. I need to use 2 buses to get to and from work and since I moved in, the times have just become shockingly bad. I am now constantly getting into work way to early and due to bus times, I can't stay all that late as my buses end late and require either a 2.5km walk or a solid 25 minute wait to connect to another bus. The other thing is that the apartment complex is undergoing refurbishments, however my apartment has not yet had that done, with a rent increase again (this time almost $200!) and no date as to when the apartment would be refurbished (which probably wouldn't happen knowing them), that is not a good thing. So I looked about for somewhere else to live. I wanted to also bring myself closer to Heidi as well, to avoid the 45 minute drives in each direction. That would mean that I can put a bit of that extra $$ that I am spending in fuel each week (the truck isn't exactly frugal with the fuel I put into it) towards somewhere nicer, somewhere that may cost a bit extra. Well, after looking around, it is time for everyone to know that I am moving... the date is set, the location found. Two years ago when I moved over here to the USA I checked out some new apartments in the Renton Highlands at a complex called "Harrington Square". Funny thing is two years later, I went back to check it out. The place had gotten better and in the end I signed a lease for a 1 Bedroom. What sealed the deal? Well there is a Bus stop at the door that goes directly to work (and actually stops just across the street), it is in a fairly decent location (surrounds wise) and it has an amazing Gym. I couldn't turn it down.. I went for it straight away! So on the 14th of this month (yep there is a 1 week overlap) I pack up the truck and head south to Renton to a new apartment, a new location and another step in this journey over here. I will be much closer to Heidi (timed it last night to around 10-12 minutes) and the trip to work should be easier as well (though about the same time frame as the bus goes all over the shop, but still 1 bus is better than two). The packing has begun as I started taking stuff down off the walls today. I don't have all that much stuff, but still the packing will be a new experience. At least I have a whole heap of favors to call in for moving day. Since the truck has been utilised many times to help others, it is time to call in those favors. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

Well I have been slacking off as of late but in reality there isn't that much exciting news that I want to release just yet (there will be in the next week or so once stuff get's worked out). At the moment life just ticks on forward and I figured I should at least update something so that you know I am alive, safe & well. Paine Field Aviation Day was last weekend and I got myself roasted (though I was kind of sad that they did not have a run this year). I have about 2000 photos to work through and I need to get them out of the way as soon as possible as well, with my impending trip to Alaska (trip report coming, since I haven't done one all year!) that is only going to add more to the queue. Life moves on day by day, but at the moment, nothing to see here...

It’s all over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As I type this on my laptop, sitting in the passenger seat of Heidi’s car, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment. I also feel every single piece of muscle in my body screaming at me saying “You’re fucking stupid, if you ever do this again I am going to smack you in the head”. If there was ever going to be a time that Murrphy’s Law was going to make its presence known, this has been it. Ever since that fateful time after my 13km training run, it was all down hill from there. Friday night was a good night, however the trip north had a false start as we had to go back to my place to pick up some candy that had to go north to Canada (I sure hope those pineapple lumps are tasty Roy!). That should of been the first sign that things were not going to go “as planned”. The weather was fairly rotten up north, the border crossing was as usual, horrible. The border agent just had a bug up his ass and wanted me to say the words “Work Visa” and kept being a douche about it. But the arrival at the hotel and check in was fantastic and by the time we headed out towards the city for dinner we were happy! Saturday started off fairly ok, I managed to take some photos of a Air Canada Rouge A319 which is what I was searching for (still didnt get my Westjet Q400 but theres still time) but when we were heading down towards breakfast on Broadway, I realised I had forgotten the pineapple lumps…. again. Back to the airport, back to the car, then back to broadway. I am stupid, I know But we had a good lunch with Roy and explored Granville Island and then headed over to the Expo to score some free stuff and pick up my race kit (I now have more power bars than I know what to do with). Saturday night was meant to be quiet, it was meant to be relaxed. After some carbo loading we were meant to relax in the spa and just have a nice quiet night in…. yeah didnt happen. We waited almost an hour for our take out order to appear *sigh* and by that stage I was tired, hungry, cranky and ready for sleep. I was not a happy chappy. But dinner was pretty good (not really worth the wait though) and I got to have a wagon wheel (or at least the Canadian equivalnet). Sunday morning was full on pouring down rain. Several times I contemplated sleeping in….. Several times!!! But the ever convincing girlfriend kept me on track and dropped me off to make sure that I got to the race start on time. The race went pretty well and although I didn’t run the whole thing it went better than expected. The rain came down about 90% of the time and it was hard trying to dodge people and giant puddles full of water. When my shoes got full of water, I stopped caring, I just took it as it came. Although I didn’t see Heidi till the final stretch (our timings were off) there was plenty of other people to support me while I was out running. I did like the Tinder support team (around the halfway mark). A few very pretty ladies, some really good pumping music and best of all, a little bit of a a boost to my energy. I was one of those people that had to make a potty break during the run, which I didn’t want to do at all but it just ended up that way and although it slowed me down, it wasn’t by all that much. The last half of the race was my hardest. My calves were burning, my knees were shot but my injury wasn’t a hassle at all. However the rest of me just didn’t want to give up. I walked a little, ran for a bit, walked some more. I was trying to run for a bit when we hit the hill in Stanley Park near the Rose Garden… yep.. I walked… so kill me 😛 I did walk about a good kilometer and a half at the end of the race, but I was determined to run the last full kilometer (ended up running about the last 1.25km). I saw Heidi on the final turn, ran off the course to kiss her and kept goinng. Best inspiration ever! I crossed the line in 2h 35m and I am thoroughly happy with that time. When I had set my goals originally I was expecting to run the full half marathon, start to finish. I was aiming for 2.5 hours for that. When I injured myself I decided to revise that to 3 hours. Even then I figured it would be closer to 3 than anything else. Although I was pacing with the 2.5 hour group for part of the way, I kept up to them but they overtook me after the potty break and I never saw them again after that. I am proud of myself for not giving up and pushing through the injury to get this done. But I know that Heidi will probably kick me in the head if I say I want to do it again. This race has been the hardest thing I have done since I moved to the USA. It could possibly be the hardest thing I have done ever. The weight loss felt a lot easier than this, Kokoda felt considerably easier, This morning I could have given up so many times and just stopped & walked to the nearest Tim Hortons for a coffee (tempted to as well considering they are on almost ever corner in Downtown Vancouver) but I didn’t, I stuck with it. I know a few people are proud of me for keeping at it, but I know I could have done better. I wont say I will ever run a Half Marathon again, no matter what others think, it just isn’t me. I will stick to my 5ks and 10ks for a good race event push. Till I have to stop running outright the least I can do is just keep on pushing.. right? PS if you have some good pain killers, I could do with some right now 😉

2 years ago, at around this time in the morning, I stepped foot off a flight in Los Angeles, struggling with 3 suitcases, an extremely heavy camera bag (if someone had of tried to weigh that thing, It would of been as much as a checked bag i swear) and a backpack, I navigated my way through US Immigration & Customs. "Why are you coming to the USA" is a standard question at immigration, my words that morning were... "I am here to work". That I have done! It has been 2 years since I left Australia and moved over here to the USA and it sure has been a life experience. My life then compared to now is totally different. I have done so much, accomplished so much that my previous life back in Australia feels like a distant memory. I can't even count the exact ways my life is different, but to be honest things are different now. Since I moved here, I have traveled quite a bit, visited a new continent, returned to two countries that I love, taken road trips across country borders, even flew across the country just to fly back the very next day. I have met new people, made new friends both in Seattle and around the country. Visited old friends and new, and even managed to have what feels like a family here now in the USA. I set a goal to get out in the dating world this year and that has gone way further than I thought, and now I have a reason to want to stay in the USA. With a girlfriend (yeah I finally said it) that I love and cherish with every day, why would I want to leave? I have my dream car (well Truck) and have a second "job" on the side doing something that to me is a challenge and provides with the most fun times some days. Getting to travel and write about some of the things that I deal with on a daily basis or just want to write about, either way it is a fulfilling experience. What will my future hold here in the US? I don't know. I know for certain that I don't want to go home, I don't want to leave my new life here in the USA. As much as that pains me to say it, it is true. My parents are totally ok with this and they know that they may not get to see me as much as they had hoped, but it is my friends and family back home in Australia that I worry about at times. I wonder how they are going, what they are doing, do they miss me, do they even remember me at all? But no matter what happens, I have a life here now in the US, I love my life here, I have family here, I have friends here and no matter what... This is my future.