Introduction Seattle to Los Angeles to Houston to Tulsa Oklahoma Oklahoma City to Seattle ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ After dropping the car back at National (and OKC had plenty of half decent cars available in the Emerald Aisle including a new Edge Titanium) I grabbed all my stuff and headed for the terminal. The first thing I noticed was just how easy it was to get around in Oklahoma City and how nice the airport looks. Not sure how old it is but it looked super clean, modern and although the security checkpoint was small, there was not much of a wait and soon enough I was through to the main terminal itself.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
Once through I noticed something I had bet my money on before getting to the airport. There was a Sonic in the terminal, but they didn’t seem to have the half price ice cream advertised, so win to me! The terminal was spotlessly clean and was nice (albeit compact). I walked the entire length of the airport and it was quite easy getting around. Purchased a bottle of water and a souvenir to take home and headed towards the gate.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
By the time I made it to the gate, the plane had not quite arrived but it would be in a few minutes. They were actively promoting to get preferred seats sold and also First Class upgrades (sorry $100 on a non meal flight when I should be home in time for dinner is not a sale for me). They started offering bag checks as I got to the gate so figured I might as well not deal with the suitcase. Ahh Alaska, so predictable! Free bag check fees by waiting to get through security… suckers.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I got my bag tagged and a printed boarding pass (i changed my seats to get a row of two to myself) and headed off to get a picture of the plane that had just arrived. I got my snaps and headed to find a power outlet to charge stuff up before I got onboard. I relaxed and watched the people around me (something Heidi loves to do) and wrote an email (thanks Carlson Hotels for fixing things so quickly). Soon enough the newest Alaska outstation was getting themselves ready for boarding. Now I can’t tell if these guys are contract workers or are actually Alaska employees, but they were pretty good if you ask me. Alaska Airlines - AS3427 Oklahoma City to Seattle Tacoma (OKC-SEA) 1605-1823 Embraer E175 (N170SY) Economy Class - Seat 21A Boarding: 1535 (Gate 2) Push Back: 1553 Take off Roll: 1611 (Runway 17L) Top of Descent: 1727 Touch Down: 1758 (Runway 16R) Shut Down: 1804 (Gate C18) Boarding was called beginning with the pre-boards and then military and soon enough they got through the elites then it was a free for all. 21 rows of a plane and they just free for all it. Ugh! But other than that small complaint it was a good show at OKC. Now it was time to get onboard and start heading home. I got onboard to my first Embraer of the year and headed all the way to the back…. All the way! I was in row 21 because it had two empty seats and would hopefully stay that way. I was in 21A and B was hopefully going to stay empty.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I got myself settled in and just before we closed up I fired off a “see you soon” message home. Today's flight should only take 3 hours 15 minutes of air time (apparently) and we pushed back and then sat for a while (new staff, I will let them have it). We taxied out towards the runway and had to hold a little while for some Air Force T-38s from Sheppard Air Force Base doing pattern work. Once they had finished we turned onto the active, dumped the fuel into the burners and off we went. We passed the T-38s as they taxied back with canopies open (probably so they don’t cook themselves in the 95 degree heat). We climbed out through some bumps and cloud and started to head towards the PNW. As we climbed out we were informed there would be WiFi (yes!) and streaming entertainment as well. That should make for an easy flight. It was meant to be a super calm flight, but for some reason it wasn’t really calm. I didn’t figure it out till I was checking Flightaware after some big turns that didn’t feel normal to see that we were dodging a line of storms that seemed to be working their way east. Won’t complain about that little detour!
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
When the FA brought around the drinks trolley I got myself a diet coke and decided to try out the flight credit that comes with my Amex Gold Card and see if it would really work on in-flight food. So I purchased a snack box (not that I was going to eat much of it) and it was now time to wait to see if it would come back as free. The flight just kept on cruising Northwest as I sat back and worked on the trip report (plenty of air time to do this) and relaxed into my happy place. About the halfway point in the flight the Copilot came on to say we were passing the Grand Tetons off to the right. Thanks buddy, I am on the left side…. do a quick turn around will you!
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
As I was working away online, I lost track of all time and soon enough we were about 90 minutes out of Seattle. The two crew were super nice and were keeping everyone served pretty well. The flight wasn’t exactly full but they weren’t hiding in the galley either. I had a good chat to one of them about the roads around SeaTac at the time since the Chinese President was tying things up. Before I knew it we were on descent into SeaTac and it was time to pack things up.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
By the time I had everything stashed away, we were turning north over Auburn and Kent for our downwind leg. We passed SeaTac off our left, then Renton and also Boeing Field. We turned for final approach right over Kenmore and Bothell, way up where I used to live. It was kind of surreal to get this kind of approach, since I used to watch them all the time. We tracked over downtown for a 16R arrival and as we approached it was time for this all to be over. We touched down and started the long complicated taxi over to the Alaska gates.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
We were stuck waiting off the gate while the Horizon ground agents got themselves into gear at C18. We finally did pull in and then the dings went off and it was time to wait to get off. I had a last minute chat with the flight attendant about the traffic problems about to hit us all, and then it was off into the terminal to get my bag. By the time i got down to the baggage claim the belt had just started spitting out bags from our flight. That meant no 2500 points for me 🙁 Soon enough I was on my way to the shuttle to get the truck…. trip over 🙁
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip

Introduction Seattle to Los Angeles to Houston to Tulsa Oklahoma Oklahoma City to Seattle ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Getting off the flight was relatively easy and I started to head my way towards the baggage claim and then down towards the car park where the signs were sending me. Except my phone told me I had to go to the rental counter… o dear. Backtracking to find some signage and when I finally did find the rental counter, they told me to go straight to the car park…. *sigh*
From Oklahoma Trip
Eventually I made it to the National Rental area and there was like maybe 6 cars in place. This is not good. No wonder the virtual aisle was not working, they had no cars! I had reserved a full size since the price was so good and it was a reserve service, not an aisle set up. So I should have had a car waiting. When I got there the person working the booth did not seem to care there were no cars and offered me either a Cherokee or a Patriot… both of which are SUVs and neither of which I wanted. I asked him what cars I can have, he said none. I pushed back saying I reserved a full size, he offered me a Fusion, a Camry or a Chrysler 200, all of which are not Full Size. I said I would take the Cherokee in this instance but as soon as I got to the car it didn’t look that great inside so I went back, but I had missed out on the fusion by moments. Again I pushed back to the guy that I reserved a full size and I would like a full size. He said he might have some (he didn’t want to look in the computer at all) and said that maybe when the drivers get back they can get something for him. I said I was willing to wait but he looked like he just wanted to get rid of me. He asked me again what I was looking for and I said “What I reserved, a Full Size, like a Charger or something like that). Well he again had a huff, and then said “What about an Altima” I said sure, that's a full size. So he walked off down to Alamo and got the keys from them and swapped it over in there computer. Could he not have done this in the first place… *sigh* Finally off to my hotel and the area was exactly how I expected it. A mix of residential/industrial/commercial park, right next to the freeway. Lots of food options around. When I got to the hotel though, things did not go as planned here either. I arrived to find the driveway of the hotel full of security and police cars. All in all there was 8 police cars at reception. This was NOT a good sign. I ventured inside to check in and the lady on reception again did not seem to care at all, and when I asked about the police cars she just nonchalantly said “O Don’t worry about that”.... ugh yeah… sure! I moved my car and went up to the room briefly to drop things off. I was not impressed with the room and I won’t air all the dirty laundry here, but this was not a wise choice. I tried to see if there was any BBQ still open, but there wasn’t so I did the next best thing.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I jumped back in the car and drove off for something that I passed on the way to the hotel (well not that exact one, I picked one a little bit closer and close to an area I could find water after). I went to Waffle House. First time at this US staple and it wasn’t half bad. It was dirt cheap and as you would expect, I had a waffle. I had breakfast pretty much for every meal that night with Bagels for breakfast and lunch and then Eggs, Sausage, Waffle and Grits for dinner (although apparently I should have had hash browns… silly me). After my dinner and catching up on digital life I hopped in the car to find the nearest grocery store to grab some dessert and some water for the next day. All that seemed to be open was a Walmart, so that’s where I went. I returned back to the hotel to find all the police cars cleared out and the hotel deserted. So after a quick call to the wife and planning out where I was going running the next morning, I hit the sack.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
Wednesday 23rd September 2015 I woke up earlyish and headed over to Riverside Drive, about 4 or 5 miles drive away. This was the number one running trail that I could find in all of Tulsa and it was pretty damn awesome. Cutting through the middle of Tulsa is the Arkansas River (funny considering that its no where near it right?). The city of Tulsa has done things right here by putting in miles and miles of running/cycling path and really amazing facilities for people to enjoy along the way. I parked my car at the 41st Street Plaza where there was ample parking, restrooms and best of all, resting space if things didn’t go to plan. I hit the trail and it was wide, flat and open and passed plenty of people doing the same thing on the way. All while forgetting my camera 🙁 I did get to enjoy a lovely sunrise as the colors went from dark to light and tinged pink and red and orange. The people were all friendly as well, with just about everyone greeting you as you passed them. Always a great way to start the morning with a sunrise run in a new city.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I headed back to the hotel and again, more problems found (try no hot water) and so I showered and headed to breakfast (no wifi at all!). Breakfast was as you would expect when it’s free, carbalicious (no fruit so thankfully I brought my own) and I went with something in honor of Heidi, a waffle! A good waffley breakfast and some coffee and I hit the road to make a quick stop back at Riverside Drive to get some photos since the place deserves it!
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
Off on the road to Oklahoma City I went. Open road, cruise control and some music was something I wanted and it was a great drive. Turns out the drive from Tulsa to OKC is a toll road for part of it and $4 cash later, I was able to continue on my way. I expected the drive to just be solid flat road, but it was actually more like rolling hills the whole way. It was a good drive and I didn’t really have an idea of where in Oklahoma City I was heading to but was going to just head downtown and take it from there. I ended up coming in on the freeway seeing signs for the State Capitol and that sounded as good as any for somewhere to go to.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
The State Capitol looked pretty decent and I actually saw one of the state senators arrive at work as they all have reserved car spaces (no names though). Funny that here in the USA the state senators & representatives all drive to work in their own car. In Australia they would all be driven to work in a government car. From there I headed off to find some lunch! I just googled BBQ and went to the one with the best rating. Leo’s BBQ is where I ended up and the place look exactly how I was hoping. A DUMP. But this generally means that the food is good, at least in BBQ perspective because it’s all about the pit, not the ambiance. Leo’s has apparently been on the Food Network so I expected it to be full of tourists, but when the guy sitting next to me at lunch (had to share a table) had been eating there for 35 years, well it was a locals joint. He told me what to order, said he had been eating the same thing for his entire life so I knew it had to be good, and it was. The Brisket I had was amazing, it was melt in your mouth tender but with enough chew to really taste it. I had one rib and it practically fell away from the bone without being overcooked. The Fried Okra was great and the beans were so flavorful. In something I had not experienced before they had a cucumber and onion pickle to go with it. Not a gherkin style pickle but more like a fresh cucumber salad style pickle. It helped cut the richness of the meat really well. None of the meat came out sauced and the guy at the table gave me the good sauce (and good it was!). All of it came served with a slice of their famous Banana Strawberry cake and to be honest, I’ve had better cake. Now lunch wasn’t cheap (probably my most expensive thing in the entire visit to Oklahoma) but it was good!
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I moved on from Leo’s (my car had not be stolen or damaged so that was good considering the area was sketchy) and headed towards a place I had found in a little brochure around the state capitol. Tinker Air Force base is located in Oklahoma City and was not to far away. They had a big Air Park just next to the main gate so I headed over there to ogle some avgeek goodies. A big piece of park full of heavies and some small stuff that I did not expect. It was really worth the short visit. From there I headed over towards the airport to fill up. I kept passing Sonic’s all day yesterday and today and when I passed one it turns out it was half price ice cream all day…. SOLD!
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I found the closest Sonic to the airport and then headed that way to grab a treat before I filled the car up. I just wanted somewhere I could consolidate all my stuff (rather than having to do it in a gas station) and whenever there is ice cream involved I can’t really complain right? Sold! Plus when it cost less than $2 for a Waffle Cone Sundae who would say no! Hell it even came with a cherry on top! I gassed up the car (where else can you get gas for under 50c a liter!) and headed towards the airport, ready to finish off the last part of my quick trip to Oklahoma.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip

Introduction Seattle to Los Angeles to Houston to Tulsa Oklahoma Oklahoma City to Seattle ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Tuesday 22nd September 2015 *beep beep beep* Crap, time to get up. It’s O Dark Stupid and unfortunately I need to get up and get moving. The normal morning process of Gym, emails, last minute packing (I always seem to forget the same things every time) and it’s time to kiss the wife and head to the airport. Rather than use the employee lot, I decided to use up a couple of expired groupon vouchers and park at Wallypark. So within 45 minutes of leaving the house, I am walking on the secure side of the airport (unfortunately Checkpoint A was an absolute zoo, thank god for premium access). I dropped off something at work and headed for the United Club. One of the whole reasons for this trip was a final swan song of my *G status before it expires in November. This meant that I could have a quick relax before the flight boarded. I should of had about 30-40 minutes before we boarded to catch up on life and relax. The reality though was our light was delayed for “Operational Reasons” which really was code for “The crew needs to sleep and is running late”. So I had about an hour or so before we were due to board.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I had some coffee, stole some breakfast and then got myself ready to board. I saw the seat map was wide open and although I tried to get myself an exit row, the gate agent was not in the mood for being helpful. So I took at least a row to myself, nice try lousy gate agent! United Airlines - UA6522 Seattle Tacoma to Los Angeles (SEA-LAX) 0645-0927 Canadair CRJ-700 (N706SK) - Operated by Skywest Economy Class - Seat 14A Boarding: 0635 (Gate A7) Push Back: 0702 Take off Roll: 0717 (Runway 16L) Top of Descent: 0901 Touch Down: 0928 (Runway 24L) Shut Down: 0945 (Gate 87) We boarded and by the time I had looked through my bag to find something, they had gone from Zone 1 to Zone 2 and with only 1 other person in that zone other than me, i had barely touched the walk way before it was Zone 3 being called and I had to move quickly to escape the masses. Once in the jetbridge I dropped my bag at the door (this is a CRJ remember) and headed inside. There was a back up for some reason (what are people trying to stow?) and I waited a little while before heading to my seat. I got myself situated in the seats and waited for everyone to board (which didn’t take long). We could have departed on time had we not had to wait while the crew finished all their required checklists. Till that time I just sat there doing stuff and flicking through the magazines etc in the seat back pocket.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
We finally closed up and pushed back a few minutes before the revised time of departure. We had a long taxi out as it was South Flow today and United uses the A gates…. sadly. So after about 10 or so minutes we were at the north end of the field and lining up behind a Virgin America A320 waiting to depart. Sadly no good photos today as the windows on this old CRJ were solidly disgusting and dirty. While I could see out the window the photos just would not turn out, otherwise you would see below a brand new 787-9 and even better, two Antonov AN124’s (one from Volga Dnepr, one from the Antonov Design Bureau). We climbed out quickly and cruised up into the morning sky, with the sun rising directly out my window. I was able to get a good view of Mt Rainier before we hit the clouds and it was out of sight. I just sat back and did some writing for the blog. Eventually the cart came around and I got my usual morning order of Coffee and Water. This with my pilffered breakfast of Bagel and Banana it was as though I was doing the one thing I have done time and time again. An early morning departure from Seattle, drinking airline coffee and looking out the window. De Ja Vu much?
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
The flight down was pretty uneventful. I drank, I ate, I typed and then you know. We started descent into LAX. We were coming in long and slowly over the mountains to the north of the greater Los Angeles area. We even had a good sight of the Hollywood sign as we came in and did a nice gentle right turn over Dodger Stadium (sorry no games today). We came in for a nice long final approach onto the North Runways and that meant one thing at LAX. A long taxi 🙁
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
As we touched down on 24L we hit the breaks quickly and hard and pulled off right at the start of the taxiway to the Down Under Ramp. We taxiied up the ramp and stopped, right in the middle of the taixway. Great… this means one thing. Penalty box! We were waiting for our gate to open up, which always seems to happen to me while I am in LAX.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
Finally we headed up to our gate and taxiied in and then there was a mass exodus off the plane, but I waited and was in the last few people off the plane. I had to wait for my gate checked bag so that I could keep going and knowing ground staff (I used to be one remember) it would be a few more minutes (and it was). When I finally got my bag I took a bare few steps up the jetbridge and I saw it. The 787-9. I snapped a few photos and headed off on my way around to the United Club.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I got over to the UA club out at the end of Terminal 7. The gate that had my plane was way at the end, and there was a club pretty much right above it. I had enough time at the club for a quick bathroom break and then it would have to be off to the gate. Though when I got there I took advantage of a nice person at the desk and asked them to see if they could help me out with the seat situation. She did a big shout out to the United Club ladies for always being there to help (since I have never been let down before). I grabbed a quick snack and headed off to the gate. United Airlines - UA1977 Los Angeles to Houston Intercontinental (LAX-IAH) 1100-1647 Boeing 787-9 (N38950) Economy Plus - Seat 18A Boarding: 1010 (Gate 76) Push Back: 1055 Take off Roll: 1105 (Runway 25R) Top of Descent: 1507 Touch Down: 1544 (Runway 8R) Shut Down: 1552 (Gate E5) When I got to the gate, boarding was well underway and I got there right as Zone 3 was starting. I had to move quick to beat some more hordes of people but I was down the jetbridge quickly. Stopped at the door for a few pictures, and then stepped onboard into door 2L. Sadly it is a right turn into the aisle and off down the back. Past the 2nd business cabin and into Economy Plus for me today. I was able to get settled quickly before I was joined by my seat mates. Sorry to the two folks sitting next to me who originally had a row to themselves 😉
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I got myself settled into the seat and the legroom was great and the screen was nice and clear. I managed to snap a lot of pictures in the 45 minutes or so we were at the gate during boarding. About 5 minutes prior to the proper departure time we started pushing back from the gate and I was giddy like a schoolgirl. The wing looked so amazing (I have to say I do love the wing on a 787) all curved up and raked. The window in the first dimmed setting was the best for today as it cut down so much on the glare. We taxiied to the end of the runway right near our terminal and it meant that we would be off within minutes rather than having a long taxi. We did not even stop when we turned onto the runway. We just turned right onto the active and the GenX engines were wound up and into the sky we went.
From Oklahoma Trip
We climbed out and turned left back over the ocean and then kept turning left till we were pointed east. We ended our climb out at 41,000ft (according to the Captain) and it was a smooth climb. Watching that raked wingtip bounce up and down was great and probably as much entertainment as the tv in the seat back. I had been watching a movie, though not paying to much attention to it (it was the new Terminator movie so not at all that great).
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I spent most of my time on the flight working on the trip report or just generally relaxing. I again ate some snacks I had pilfered from the lounge and just chilled out. I knew that once I got to Houston it was going to be from one end of the airport to the other. We started a very early descent into Houston and we got passed by a Southwest 737 going like a bat out of hell. It was a very slow descent (then again we were up super high at 41,000ft). We did eventually start to get lower and lower and eventually some of Houston’s surrounding areas came into view. I thought I saw the airport, but I was wrong.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
As we circled around to approach Houston, it seemed we were coming into the same side as I had when I was first here back in 2012. Coming in from Qatar we had a long approach all the way past the D gates, and it was the same as last time. We touched down and started the long taxi back around to the E gates which were on the totally opposite side of the airport. Sadly my camera was having a hissy fit dealing with the clouding on the window and the blue tint (which kept the glare out).
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
We taxiied all the way around to the E Gates and we pulled into our gate right next to a Star Alliance 777-200 so that was a nice welcome to the city. Once eventually deplaned (they took their time bringing in the air bridge but then we did get in SUPER early) I headed into the terminal, snapped one last picture of the 789 and headed off back on a trek across the airport. I was heading to the B gates which are back pretty much where we landed. It would mean a lot of walking and a train just to get over to the gates. O well, time to hoof it! I am glad we got in early as it would mean I didn’t have the 54 minutes originally scheduled to get across the airport.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
I decided to check out the United Club in the B concourse but the place was an absolute zoo, I was not going to stick around long because there was no real seats anywhere and I had to really look hard to find a seat with a power plug to give the laptop some juice. I eventually decided to head out of the zoo that was the club and find the gate. Well the gate i found, kind of. It seems the B gates are essentially for the regional jets and rather than bus people out. They come into something akin to what Horizon use in Seattle. However rather than having one mass gate and having people walk to the plane itself. They have the gate at the top and then you walk down to the gates themselves where they scan your boarding pass and let you on from there. It didn’t seem smart to me.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
United Airlines - UA4573 Houston Intercontinental to Tulsa (IAH-TUL) 1738-1908 Embraer ERJ-145 (N16170) - Operated by Expressjet Economy Class - Seat 2A Boarding: 1708 (Gate B23) Push Back: 1731 Take off Roll: 1744 (Runway 15R) Top of Descent: 1825 Touch Down: 1855 (Runway 18L) Shut Down: 1900 (Gate B6) So when we were called down to the gate I headed down the escalators and then down to the plane gate itself. I made sure to get another photo of the plane up close before getting into the Zone 2 line (it was combined with Zone 1) and for some odd reason we had to wait to board from there. It was unlike anything I had experienced before… odd.
From Oklahoma Trip
Once out the door I dropped my bag at the “Valet” gate check and headed up to the plane. Stepping onboard i realised I was not going to be able to do what I wanted and was just going to have to enjoy the flight without any hassles. The flight filled up and i contorted myself into my seat and stored everything at my feet (and then had no room for my feet). I knew I had chosen poorly on this plane now, and kind of regret it. We eventually buttoned up with 37 people on board and got ready to taxi.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
Pushing back from the gate and then holding at the taxi way for a while meant we had to wait. We headed over to a new part of the airport I had not been to before and we lined up on a parrellel runway to an Aeromexico E190. We climbed out and turned right (sine the E190 went left) and we turned back to the north towards Oklahoma. Totally uneventful flight as we just climbed out and the total flight time was an hour. This shows you how crap the US airlines are. Back home Brisbane to Sydney is a 1 hour flight time and that means a full meal service on an airline like Qantas. In the US it means a drink, and that’s it. I was lucky enough to get one cup of diet coke and one of coke zero and a lot of reading my book. To high to see anything decent and by the time we started descending I had no idea where we were.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
As we circled around and landed I was shocked to see just how big the airport was. I had forgotten that this is a big facility for American Airlines as they have their maintenance base here. We landed and had a slowish taxi up to the gate and soon enough I was off the plane and into the jet bridge to wait for my bag.
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip
From Oklahoma Trip

Introduction Seattle to Los Angeles to Houston to Tulsa Oklahoma Oklahoma City to Seattle ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I have not really added this to my bucket list but I have an unofficial challenge to visit all 50 states in the USA. Slowly but surely I am ticking them off. Last Year was Alaska, the year before, Kansas and Missouri. I had two options for this year. If I was going alone, it was going to be Oklahoma, if I was going with Heidi, it would be Iowa and Nebraska. Well things didn't quite work out for a trip to Iowa, so it was just going to be me and that meant Oklahoma. Getting one way to Oklahoma was going to be easy as Alaska has just started service to Oklahoma City. I had enough points for a one way flight. I also had some expiring Aegean points leftover after my trip to Frankfurt, so that was something I started to look at. While playing around on United's website one day, I actually found that they fly a 787-9 from Los Angeles to Houston and thus this whole trip fell into place. I went back and forth about going or not for quite sometime and I can tell Heidi got sick of me trying to work it out. So eventually she just said yes and that was it, I was off! Booking the Alaska flight would be easy, the United flights, not so much. I couldn't get any decent flights into Oklahoma City to work at all for the days I needed, even reversing it did not work. So I tried a different tactic. Tulsa is about 100 miles from Oklahoma City so I checked out one way Car Rentals and they turned out to be cheaper than just a one day in OKC. So I started working flights into Tulsa and they would work (better than what OKC would actually). So I called up Aegean and they could see the flights but then the fun began. First quote of 200 Euros in Taxes. PASS! Asked them to Recalculate since the taxes should be about $20, and she wouldn't budge. Hang Up Call Again! Again could see the space, taxes worked out correct, however this time she would not allow the three segments I wanted on the same ticket.. Dammit not this stupid clause again. So I set back to working out the problem and found that if I ticketed the SEA-LAX separately on a paid fare, I still only spent less than $200 with the car rental, so I went with it. I called back and got it all worked out, then jumped online quickly to book the missing flight pieces. Ok so the flights were set. I booked in the car rental (after a little while playing with rate codes) and got that sorted. I then used up some of my remaining Club Carlson points (again leftover from Frankfurt) to book in a hotel. I went with the cheaper of the two hotels on offer in Tulsa because it seemed to have more around it.
A Quick look at just how this was going to pan out,

A Quick look at just how this was going to pan out,

Although this was going to be a quick trip, it sure was going to be an experience. I know Heidi was not looking forward to losing me from home for just a night, but I was excited to get back up in the air for some good old fashioned fun. A new state, a couple of new airports, a new plane and some new services to bring it all together. Sounds like fun right?.... Just wait.

I have wanted to do this post for a while now, but following requests from Heidi I have not until now (she has ok’d this though). I have wanted to talk about the process of obtaining my Green Card as I know a lot of my family and friends have questeions about what happens during the process. It is surprising to know that so many people go through this same process yet each and every case will be different. My case while not unique, felt not so easy. Most of you know how we got married, most of you know that I do in fact love my wife (and she loves me as well funnily enough). You also may know how I got over here to the USA, now you can learn how I get to stay. The whole Permanent Residency (PR) process is a lenghthy one and I can tell you now, we were not expecting it to take so long. When we got engaged, we knew that we would have a road ahead of us to get it all donem however we expected a few months to get it all done, we did not expect the lengthy road of almost a year! My situation was a little bit easier compared to some other people in the fact that I was already in the USA when we got engaged, if I had been outside of the country, that’s a whole other story. As my original work visa doesn’t allow “Dual Intent” it meant that if I had left the country and tried to come back with the “Intent to immigrate”, that’s a no entry situation. What it meant was that I was stuck here in the USA till things got fixed up. The process for me to get my PR begins with plenty of paperwork and i mean plenty. Our original filing was almost 130 pages of forms and supporting documents. Then later on followed up by about another 100 or more pages. It isn’t just forms but proof of an ongoing relationship/marriage. So you need to prove everything to the government. You need to show how you met, what you did, did you travel together, did you move in together. You also need to show bills and shared expenses. Now Heidi and I had only been together 9 months when this all started so I am sure had it been for more than that, our documentation might of been bigger, but this was big enough. The one thing that surprised me about what was required was legal statements from our friends and family about how they know us, how we met etc. This was not something we expected, nor where we prepared for. Thankfully our friends were willing to help us out! It also required a doctors visit to get a specific set of paperwork signed off after tests were run. I was also legally required to get a flu shot and a few other vaccination boosters (my MMR was done in school and thus not recorded in my yellow book, so to prove to the government I had it, I had to do it again). They ran blood work (I can say I am free of Syphilus!) and the usual kinds of tests and all it got me was a signed, sealed envelope that said I was perfectly healthy. The biggest hurdle was getting all this information together. Originally we were going to do this ourselves, however that was not working. Heidi and I are both very different people in life. Heidi can be very logical at times, but the majority of the time she follows the Yellow (social) brain. This means (and this is in no way an insult) that she flicks between following along, to wanting to do things a certain way. This is very evident when it comes to forms and anything where her teacher brain comes into play. Unfortunately for this instance it was not something what would help combat my 100% Blue (logic) brain. In the end we gave up battling each other (we fought more over this stupid PR) than we ever did our entire relationship) and got some help from a laywer. It wasn’t cheap but it was worth it in the end because all we had to do is point to what the laywer said and anything that we had to do was because the laywer said so (it didn’t end the flighting, but it sure did cut it WAY down). Once you send in all the paperwork, be prepared to wait. Wait, wait and wait some more. I wanted so badly for this whole process to speed up but it wasn’t going to. The good thing with the US Government is that they know that it will take a while for the whole process, so rather than make you sit in some limbo status (which when you are adjusting from a work visa to a PR you are in no mans land) they send you an EAD and an AP. The EAD stands for Employment Authorisation Document and the AP stands for Advanced Parole. The EAD allows you to work, the AP allows you to travel. The AP doesn’t mean you can just leave and come back when you want. It really just means if you need to travel for work or something, you can come back into the country as a Parolee (yes… I was a parolee after I came back from Germany). The EAD lets you work so that you can support yourself/family. It meant I could jump out from the sinking ship that was work and move on with my life to find something else. The EAD took about 2 months or so to process from our filing date, and from that date on, you just need to be patient. The EAD is valid a year and hopefully that meant I could get the interview before that time before having to try to renew it. I had seen online wait times of several months We prepared so much extra evidence that (and multiple copies as requested) that it took up 3 document wallets! That did not even include the almost 60 photos which were hand labelled with dates, locations etc. It was not an easy task. There was even quizzing back and forth between me and Heidi to make sure we were prepared for any question (and in case anyone asks, yes I know Heidi’s birthday and our anniversary off the top of my head, her phone number though, that is a tough one). We almost didn’t make the interview with both of us having to juggle our schedules to make sure we could go (not that I had a choice since it is legally required). In the end stuff worked out but it was not without stress. When the interview day finally rolled around I was an absolute mess. I was stressing myself more the previous few days than I had ever stressed in my entire life. All the “What If” scenarios were playing in my head and they just would not stop. By the time we got to the USCIS building I could not stop fidgeting or stop my hand from shaking. I had gone from stressing to nerves kicking in, something that I have not had that bad in years. When I was younger, even though I loved flying, the morning of a flight I would throw up because I was nervous (not sure what about). That doesn’t happen anymore but it was that level of nerves. Having Heidi by my side the whole time did help (I didn’t puke, just so everyone knows). We met up with our laywer before the interivew and then met him again at the USCIS building (parking is cash only folks… thats a tip you will probably never need, but it is a necessary one). We were there at the same time as an Oath Ceremony for a whole lot of citizens, so it was REALLY busy. There was a couple of hundred people I would say there to see the ceremony and it meant lines were huge, so thankful we got there early. It did mean a lot of waiting (but isn’t that what you get when dealing with the government?). It was so “Hurry up and Wait” it wasn’t funny. The interview was late starting (who didn’t see that coming), but Heidi kept me calm and before you knew it my name was called. The whole interview was a non event in the end. We had a really nice guy, who turned out to be an ex navy pilot. His first question to me after my name was “What is my favorite plane”. Thinking it was a trick question, I gave him a question back of “Civilian or Military” and it just went on from there. The interview was mainly going through to see that I would answer the same to the large list of usual questions when you enter a country. No I’m not a terrorist or a member of the communist party, no I have never commited espionage, stuff like that. Heidi had like maybe one or two questions, but the interviewer had advised her upfront she was there more as a “prop” as he put it. Heidi did get one question that she loved which was when the interview turned to her and said “So what irritates you most about him”. It was as if the flood gates opened and out came the dirty laundry! All while we were under oath as well. Great :/ The interview was over in about 10 minutes or less and the laywer did not say a word. He just sat in the back listening and getting paid. But he had told us going in that his goal in the whole process is to not say a word as if he has to talk, well then something isn’t going well. The interviewer outlined the process of what will happen and we must have gotten someone senior because rather than having to recommend approval and someone else approve it, he was rubber stamping me on the spot (not literally) and saying that they will start issuing my Green Card. The Green Card (which really is green) took about 2 weeks to show up from the interview (probably less actually) and it’s valid for 2 years to begin with. We then have to go back to the USCIS and prove we are still together and put in another couple of hundred pages of paperwork and then they make me a PR for good. Then the cards are good for 10 years after that, like a passport). Speaking of a passport, it is time to discuss citizenship. The next logical step after PR is Nationalization right? I still need to look into the whole process more but before I can even apply for it I need to be a PR and in the country for 3 straight years. Sure I can go away for a couple of weeks, but not for a couple of months (so no big round the world trips for 6 months, sorry Heidi!). It will mean more paperwork, some studying and some testing but eventually I will probably do it, more for the fact that it will make both of our lives easier. So there you have it, from start to finish for my PR status. It was a long long road but it was something that both Heidi and I went through for each other. But now for a couple of tips that I know will help anyone else who might be going through the process: GET A LAYWER. It may seem expensive but it is worth it, trust me on this. Your relationship will thank you. Submit everything you can think of, and when you have done that, throw in some more. Proof, Proof and more proof. Photos, bills, paperwork from leases etc all of it! Nothing is to small if you both paid for it. Photos of you two making out somewhere special, throw it in, I know we did! Be patient, it is a long and lengthy process but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t be afriad, just take it as it comes. Don’t worry to much about the interview, if you come prepared it won’t be a hassle at all. So now you all know what we went through, hopefully you can get a real understanding of what the last year of our lives has been like and what we have gone through. I don’t for any minute have any regrets of the whole process and it sure worked out in the end.

The title says it all. I am coming home to Australia for a little trip next year. Better yet, Heidi is coming with me. Getting it all booked was an absolute mission, but it is all done and dusted now. The most exciting thing is going to be introducing Heidi to my friends and family in Australia. My parents have spoken to Heidi (never seen since they can't work out Skype properly, and if someone wants to go give them a lesson, be my guest) and they know how much I love and care about her, but not having had them meet yet sucks a little bit. But that is going to change. We have always planned to go to Australia and I wanted to go this year, but time has always been the problem. All of the points we have used to head down on this trip I have had for quite some time, so it has just been finding the time for both of us to go. Sadly it won't be this year in 2015, it will be 2016 that I head down, shortly after the anniversary of my 4th year in the USA. So what are we doing in Australia? Well pretty much just spending time in Brisbane with my family and friends. I get to show Heidi where I grew up, where I went to School or where I went to have fun. I want to introduce her to my family, my friends, the town I love. Best of all, I want her to experience my home country in a way that really immerses her into the experience. Of course we get to do all the touristy things like cuddle a koala etc (they just smell like a giant bottle of Eucalyptus Oil but hey it is what she wants), feed some Kangaroos, check out the sites of Brisbane, Eat a meat pie etc. Getting down to Australia is not going to be fun, unfortunately what space there was in Business went way to quick so unfortunately we are flying down in Y. Why am I doing it, well because we didn't have a choice. So to get down to Australia we have to fly to Melbourne and then connect back up to Brisbane (the fun of flying on points means you go where you can, not where you want). From Brisbane though is the fun part. We leave Brisbane to take Heidi up to Asia for the first time, and of course the easiest way to do that for a couple of days is to Singapore (known as "Asia Light"). We get to fly up there on Emirates Business so Heidi will get her first taste of a premium class. For me it also means I will finish off all 3 classes on Emirates having flown First and Economy in the past. From Singapore we will head on further north on Singapore Airlines in Suites. This was something that had to be included. We had to cancel our Japan holiday with confirmed seats in Suites and it gutted both of us. So this means we get the best of both worlds. We were booked to have a 9 hour layover in Tokyo as well, before heading home to the USA on ANA First to San Francisco. But then.... it happened. I was chatting with a coworker yesterday showing him what I had booked when I saw the schedule. It told me that I had booked a 777-300ER from Singapore to Narita. I was like "Did i read something wrong? Did I screw up?" The only reason we were flying Singapore Airlines was for Suites and If I couldn't do that I would change things around. I checked my original itineraries and it showed as A380 (the 777 doesn't have Suites). So I called Singapore (SQ) and let them know about the situation. I had already checked to see if there was space on the earlier in the day SIN-NRT flight (the one that continues to LAX) and they were happy to allow us to change to that flight. They even waived the Reissue fee for us due to the schedule change. Thankfully that earlier flight arrived into LAX later than what our flight to SFO departed, so rather than having a Red Eye with a 9 hour stop, we now have 2 day flights with a 23 hour layover in between. Hello free stopover in Tokyo!! So for those who want dates (and i know there are a lot of you back home in Brissie who want to know) this is how this should all plan out:
Our flight routing for our trip to the Southern Hemisphere next year... what will be our Second Honeymoon

Our flight routing for our trip to the Southern Hemisphere next year... what will be our Second Honeymoon

18th July 2016 - Seattle to Los Angeles - Alaska Airlines - Economy 18th July 2016 - Los Angeles to Melbourne - Qantas Airways (arrives 2 Days later) - Economy 20th July 2016 - Melbourne to Brisbane - Qantas Airways - Economy 26th July 2016 - Brisbane to Singapore - Emirates - Business (This is a 2:30am departure) 28th July 2016 - Singapore to Tokyo Narita - Singapore Airlines - Suites 29th July 2016 - Tokyo Narita to San Francisco - All Nippon Airways - First 29th July 2016 - San Francisco to Seattle - Not yet booked, probably United So there you have it folks, I am coming home to Australia and bringing the wife with me. I am sure that there will be plenty of Schedule changes along the way (hopefully QF do some changes so that I can swap onto the Brisbane flight that runs direct from LAX if I am lucky). Now to try and figure out a way to get some Oneworld Status between now and the departure date so that Heidi and I can use the lounges to at least freshen up after our epic flight in Y.

So I have been training a lot and I haven't really said much on here what for, well in 7 days time I will be running a 10k (and what could be my last if Heidi gets her way). I will be running the "Beat the Blerch" race. What is this you say? Well it is a Running Series put on by the guy who writes the Oatmeal comic. But you really need to understand what it is first before you go any further. So first off read this: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running Ok... back yet? Good. Now you understand what the "Blerch" is. So why would I try and "Beat the Blerch" Well because the races sound like lots of fun, they include all of the following: Every participant gets a “I Beat The Blerch in 2015” tech shirt and medal. There will be large quantities of cupcakes at every aid station, in addition to Nutella and magical grape beverages. Race photos are FREE. Ridiculously awesome goodie bag stuffed with Blerch surprises. A portion of the proceeds go to charity. But best of all is this last little bit: There will be actual Blerchs in fat-suits chasing you throughout the race. So some guy is going to chase me for 10K trying to catch me.... SOLD! Actually getting the free stuff and the cake sold me. So I am looking forward to a little bit of fun next weekend, being able to run around and enjoy myself shall be good. The training has gone well, a few of the runs were tough, but the 9k I did on Friday morning (since I had a late shift) worked well, I was on/under pace and that is good. My body was fighting a little so hopefully I can keep that in check this week. Here is to at least one more 10k in my life!