Yesterday was a rough day for what should have been a really simple task. For the last 2 years I have been using a technique called "manufactured spending" to pay my rent. Since the rent is the only thing I can't really use a credit card for (and trust me, all of my bills go to my credit card), I had to find a way to do it. Along came the American Express Bluebird. A prepaid Amex that offered the ability to write checks. Perfect! All I had to do was buy some Gift cards from a grocery store (triggering Double points on Grocery!), set up the pin on the card, go into walmart and load the bluebird from the Gift Card. Up until recently this has never been a problem (and only once did I ever have any kind of issue buying $1000 worth of gift cards). When Heidi and I moved in together we kept it up, when we had to pay rent, she would just give me a gift card and I would load it up and pay the rent. Simple as! When I went through the job transitions earlier in the year, I moved away from it for a little while as the fees to play this game (about $5 per GC) just wasn't justifiable. So now that things are back to normal and rent is due. Back to it right? One of my cards had a short term bonus on Grocery spend (score!) so I figured I would do some spend on that card to max out that bonus. I also have some minimum spends to do at the moment so figured a short term return to it would be good. Things were not to be! I had my gift cards ready to go, and headed off to Walmart in Renton, pretty much the place I have used many many times. When I got there, as usual no sign of the Walmart ATM since they removed it because it was constantly broken. So I lined up at the money center (thankfully not much of a wait, I think the longest I have stood in line there is over 45 mins). When it was my turn, I asked to load my bluebird and then they told me not from Gift Cards. Asking when that changed, they said "o its always been that way" (it hasn't). They just flat out refused, so it was off to the next Walmart. I texted a friend to see if he had heard any problems, nothing on the radar. Next Walmart they refuse to do it as well, citing stupid reasons (which was code for, I am sorry, I am to busy to load your Card that can only be loaded at Walmart). 2 Down, off to number 3. I get to the third Walmart and when I asked to load my bluebird the guy started spouting reasons to not do it. "You can't load at the register" "Yes you can, I have done it here before" (truth) "Well, I can't do it, this register can't do it" "Ok, because all Walmart registers can load" (again truth) "O, well I don't know how, go see the manager at the Money Center" "There is no one at the money center" "well I am not loading it". 3 stores down, 2 lazy associates, 1 where they don't know what they are talking about. So in the end I head south to two more Walmart's down near Heidi's parents place (we decided to go over there for dinner and board games). I get to the first one and finally get someone who will willingly load money to my Bluebird. I get them to load just one of my cards and they start to go back and forth with a supervisor saying stuff I can't hear. He takes my gift card and walks off where I can't see him, comes back and says "this wont work, it doesn't have a PIN". I reply and tell him it does and he says "well, give it a try but it won't work". We process it. Successfully loading it onto my card, I walk out and thank them to have a nice day (kinda sarcastically). I now have 1 card down, 2 to go! I try the last Walmart for the day, one referred to as the "sketchy walmart". I hit pay dirt at this place. I managed to find a new employee, a couple of weeks into the job who was friendly and actually wanted to help me. Although she did try to load the wrong amount (it caused her to lock up her register) she let me load in all the cash I needed to, was happy to do it and without any hassles at all. I was super Happy! All of this makes me wonder if it is even worth doing this anymore? Heidi gave me an earbashing over it, and after all the frustration of so many different Walmart visits, I am wondering if it is worth it myself. I don't know how to feel about it all to be honest. I do it to not waste points, but maybe it is time to give up on that part. Soon enough we will have a mortgage and points and travel will probably be the last of my worries. Trying to make sure we have the right credit etc is what we will need to focus on. My credit score is good, I have no problem at all. Maybe it is just this area and MS. I see reports of people having no problems in other parts of the country, but up here in the PNW they just don't like it. Is the age of MS over? For me, it probably is.

So I know I haven't been talking on here much as of late, but I figured that I would at least fill you in. I have been working a lot as of late, and with a whole week of night shifts last week, I spend most of my time either at work or catching up on sleep. On Sunday Heidi and I decided to take a day out of our schedules and head out to Lake Chelan for the day. I had not been up there, and Heidi used to go out there every year for camping, so it was time to at least do it even for a day. We decided to use up our last of the current stash of free days and grab a car from National again. I picked the car up after work late on Saturday night giving us a solid day on Sunday to be able to get out and back without rushing (and in fact we didn't rush much at all). I was hoping to grab a new 2015 Mustang as I had seen them out and about all the time and they do look good (better than the previous years) but sadly it seems National at Seattle does not get them, and they mainly get Chevy Camaros, which is what we got. This decision would come back to haunt me later. We hit up Leavenworth for breakfast (since we left home before 6am) on Sunday and it wasn't bad. We just picked the first place that said it was open on yelp. Sunday morning before 8am in Leavenworth is pretty quiet, with no one out on the streets at all. We rolled out of town after filling up and hit the road out to Chelan. We stopped by the town of Chelan for a quick walk and a break before heading out to the State Park and some time by the lake itself. Heidi wanted me to get in the water really badly and after I sat around reading for a while, and a walk throughout the park, I gave in. I gave into her demands and pushes and got in the water. The water was freezing cold but it was ok after a while. The whole area was rocks though and not sand, so it was nothing like some of the freshwater lakes I am used to back home (Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island for instance). We left Chelan and started the long drive home taking time to stop at roadside fruit stands and just generally going slowly. At one point Heidi started her usual road song of "Apple Maggot Quarantine Area" trying at times to get me to join in. I wouldn't and then she decided that she won't stop until I did join in. Well, this was going to be a game of who gives in first, and Heidi was determined to not stop singing, and she didn't for 35 miles. For 35 miles she kept on going. I did not give in, even throughout yelling and crying 😛 We finished off our day with dinner at Snoqualmie Casino for some Dim Sum and Snow Crab, something a little different. The food was good and the crab was plentiful. The dessert selection was amazing and I was in heaven with to much to choose from. I had pie and ice cream and shortcake and cookies and more! It was fantastic! We dropped the car back late at night after a fun filled day out and about in the PNW. The weather was good (albeit super hot out at Chelan) and I can't wait to enjoy more. We have decided to head out to Spokane for a weekend in September and putting together a possible trip out to Nebraska/Iowa. I have a trip to LAX planned for September too, so with all of that I am excited!.

The question I am sure you are all asking is where have I been. I know I never wrote about Vegas, nor have I been updating regularly. I have been busy working all this week. I am pretty sure I have said before I am back working at the airport so each day is a new experience. Training is well and truly over and it is all live now. Everything was scary, I can't tell you how nervous I was, but I am sure so were a lot of other people.  It was still a good week. It is definitely a job I want to stick with, a job I am surprised to be enjoying & feel like I should have tried this a while ago. I really don't know what the future is going to hold with this line of work. Could I stay in this position forever? Dunno? But I guess I need to start looking at where i want to go with this? It's time to start laying out a plan for the future. I need to sit down with my boss and work things out and also with Heidi, because what I decide affects her too. Life is back to the M-F grind. Working to earn $$$ is always a good thing.