Honeymoon Day 5 – From Desert Heat to Canyon Cold

After we rolled out of Vegas at 6am Saturday morning we were heading East towards Arizona. Retracing some steps I took the very first time I visited the USA though this time I was at the controls and not trying to sleep off any hangovers. The drive was stunning as the sun started rising over the mountains.

We made a pit stop in Kingman AZ for breakfast. Quick stop at the Dunkin for coffee & a bagel and back on the road we go with Heidi at the wheel.   Another pit stop in William AZ for a walk, a snack & some beverages & then North towards the Canyon. The road was easy going & our first real road day together on this trip. We were aiming to be in Grand Canyon Village by 1300 at the latest as we had a helicopter flight booked. I had applied for an industry stand by rate for one of the longer flights and it was a deal for $35pp.

We made it into town around 12 so went for a walk, grabbed some lunch & tried to check in but they wouldn’t let us. Not a big deal. We headed off to the airport for our flight. This was Heidi’s 2nd helicopter flight in as many days & she was still super excited.  I thin I have created a monster. I am going to say that the best way to get a perspective on just how vast the Canyon is you need to see it from the air.  No real commentary from our pilot bug a good flight. I was in the back with Heidi next to me on the window. Didn’t worry me at all, we only paid 1/10th the price others did.

After our flight we headed into the National Park (here’s a tip, purchase your pass at the Imax Theatre, same price, no lines & no wait at the park entrance)  and headed for the rim. Originally we were going to head to the rim around the main visitors center for sunset, however there was massive crowds, way over the top. We decided to go East towards Desert View & the sunset point out there, it would be less crowded (it was). The winds were up and the temperature had dropped dramatically. In Vegas it was in the 70s during the day, at the Canyon it was high 30s plus windchill. Ugh. We had an early night with Mexican food & TV in bed.

Woke up the next morning to a snow & ice layer on the ground. A temperature of high 20s was a rude shock. Not something you want to deal with when you are meant to be out hiking. We revised our plans after recovering from a rude awakening by the fire alarms going off at 5am (joy) and decided to just stick to the rim walk for a few kms, mainly for safety & keeping our bodies in one piece.

The Canyon walk was good & worth the hour or so we took to stroll along. At one point we came across an entire flock of Mule Deer, just wandering along as though we didn’t exist. Still really beautiful & Heidi had a blast running about amongst nature. We finished our Rim Walk by the fire thawing out at Bright Angel Lodge before Hopping the shuttle back to our car.

The Canyon is ever as beautiful as I remember it, the colors at sunset were stunning. Although we didn’t come prepared for temperatures at that level (my hands froze solid at one point & I went through considerable pain as they thawed out) we still enjoyed the time we had there. Right now we cruise out of the park headed for Sedona & our most expensive night on this trip, but hopefully the one that is going to be the most relaxing & luxurious.

Current Location: State Route 64 between Tusayan & William AZ
States Visited: 3
Miles Traveled: 777m
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 3

Honeymoon Day 4… The Vegas Aftermath aka my stomach hurts

Vegas was a good couple of days. Heidi has never been before so it was a good mix of new stuff for me (on my 4th time around) and also seeing the traditional touristy things for Heidi. I picked Heidi up at the airport after the first flight in from Seattle. The flight was actually early and I made it to the terminal pretty much as she was walking off her flight. Timing it well and the 15 minutes free parking meant that I could be there as she cleared out of the secure area, scored a big hug for that. Took Heidi back to the hotel so she could get some breakfast and finish off some Uni work she didn’t quite get done and then it was off to explore Vegas.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel, the Mandalay Bay. After 2 days of searching www.mycheapvegas.com I managed to find a really good rate for a Bay Suite that was less than what other hotels were charging for a room (conferences in town and the Rock n Roll Marathon had something to do with that). But the check in process really summed up just how this hotel was either hot or cold. There was never a real middle ground, the hotel was either really good for something, or just horribly bad. The first person to check us in at the Invited Guest desk (a suite check in benefit we had, along with also the fact that my Mlife Gold status has that benefit) was borderline rude. Treated like we didn’t deserve to be there and that just put me off immediately. Had Heidi not been there I may have made a scene, one thing for certain, she didn’t get a tip (aka $20 trick). When we came back later to get our room, the person greeting us then gave us a great welcome. However even though I had made a point to make sure they knew it was our Honeymoon, no one really seemed to care.

The Mandalay had it’s good and bad parts, the rooms were large and spacious and I did love the bed (however it wasn’t to Heidi’s liking). The bathroom was large and we had a giant Tub but the room itself had three major flaws:
1. No power plugs anywhere near the bed at all, they seemed to be centered around the desk where there was an ample supply of 6 plugs
2. The lights were terribly awkward to control and were predominantly lamp based, again a pet hate of mine.
3. This one really got Heidi’s goat, but there was no coffee available in the room. Not just no supplies but no way at all in making any. Not even like MGM where they provide a Keurig machine and charge you $6 for the cup and the pod to use. Nothing at all! Way to go Mandalay Bay, you just made an enemy of my wife.

The facilities around the hotel were great, and although the main pool was closed for the winter, Moorea was more than ample for Heidi’s needs (way too crowded for me personally). Our most memorable part of the Mandalay was technically not even at the Mandalay Bay but at the Four Seasons Las Vegas. A hotel within a hotel, the Four Seasons lobby and check in are below the main casino floor but they occupy a good portion of floors towards the middle of the main tower. They do however have a hidden gem that is Charlie Palmer Steak. This isn’t your typical Vegas steakhouse where you pay $120 for a piece of steak with no sides. We opted for the set menus at $50 for 3 courses including “Bottomless Wine Pairings” it is amazing value. The “Cut of the Week” menu that I had alternates on a weekly basis but the value for money is amazing. We expected to end up with smaller portions like you may expect for a set menu (ala restaurant week) however the portions were full size. Well worth it as my Steak would normally go for $40 on its own!

Apart from the Mandalay Bay we spent quite a bit of time outside of the hotel. We spent time exploring Caesars Palace and their shops (as it has a very large H&M that Heidi wanted to check out). We also spent some time wandering through the Venetian and grabbing some treats at Carlo’s Bakery (famous from the TLC show Cake Boss). I am a sucker for a baked good and one that is from a celebrity chef. SOLD! Not bad but the Tiramasu that Heidi decided to have was quite expensive for the size. My Cookie though was super tasty. We also grabbed a couple of cup cakes from the Cupcake ATM which was a weird experience of itself. We had a good time exploring Cosmopolitan in search of their secret pizza place and it was worth it. Yummy thin pizza, New York style, and cheap too! Of course this is Vegas and what trip would not be complete without a buffet. Of course you all know Heidi and I love going to Brunch. But in Vegas, Brunch is a weekend only affair and we couldn’t have that. So we went with a breakfast buffet instead, one that we could enjoy without feeling guilty over the quality. There was many hours of research, checking out best value and best quality and in the end it came down to Aria. Their buffet even had like 9 different types of Ice Cream. We had breakfast with my friend Kevin and I think Heidi and I ate way to much food. I know I had 4 of those 9 ice cream flavors along with other tasty treats (Banana Waffle, with Bananas foster sauce and Pumpkin Ice cream is AMAZING).

I was able to get Heidi her first ride in a Helicopter (though you will have to wait till I write that up for AirlineReporter to see what she thought of it) and I also checked out the Neon Sign Museum. It was really interesting to see a good portion of Las Vegas history from all the signs that the city was just so well known for. Also a piece of interesting trivia. Put Las Vegas Neon Museum into Google Earth and see what you see when you Zoom in, you will thank me :D

We rolled out of Vegas early this morning with the overall feeling that it was a great couple of days. It really pushed in the fact to both of us that Vegas in small portions is ample enough time. You can always come back another day to see something else, because I am sure it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. We left heading further east towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon hitting up some old school Route 66 but heading into the National Parks.

Current Location: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon
Miles Driven: 725m
States Visited: 3
Nights on the Road: 3
Slim Jims Consumed by Heidi: 2

Honeymoon Day 1… Road, Road & More Road

This won’t be a normal trip report for one of my long vacations. Instead this will be more just random blog posts to cover what has been happening. The flights on this trip are pretty boring and average. I took Delta down to LAX, woop de doo! But some fun stuff did happen. Heidi dropped me at the airport which was rough for her because she didn’t get home from work till almost 1am. Then to have her drop me at the airport just after 5am… sorry hun! But the good thing was at that time of the morning I got from our home in Renton, through to the airport and time for a quick hug and kiss goodbye. Then checked in to drop off a bag (I had to wait in line mind you in Sky Priority behind a few people) and that was still painless.

Once through security I checked my watch and it was only 5:30am. We had walked out the door of our apartment at 5am. That is amazing! I remember when it took me at least 30 minutes to get even remotely close to Renton from my old house. That process I just described would have been a solid hour at least! Love living in Renton! My Virgin Australia Gold Expired in October, so unfortunately I am now Silver (Still get a free bag!) but for some reason Delta still thinks I’m a gold. I still have my Gold Cards as well. A quick little deflection (read lie) about the expiry date and the lounge agents let me in! SCORE!!! Not that I needed it but it was still nice to have a free coffee and avoid the large line.

Our flight down was 45 people total and it was painless. I had a full exit row to myself and lots of relaxation. We arrived 30 minutes early and then we sat on the tarmac waiting, waiting, waiting! We landed 30 minutes early and got to the gate 20 minutes late. Yep, awesome right? Way to go Delta! It was shocking when people were just getting up and down and walking the aisles while we were being held on the taxiway. That went down well! At least the bags were quick and I was at the National lot in good time (though a solid hour after I wanted to be). Then came the tough game of choice. I was trying to avoid the Impala incident from September and had strict orders from Heidi that first preference should be a Dodge Challenger. But sadly I couldn’t see any, so I ask (because it is always worth a try) and off the guy goes to the storage area to find one. Sadly they had not a single one on lot, where as that same time last year, it was all they had! O how times have changed. Instead I was tossing up between a GMC Arcadia (a car I haven’t driven before) or a Chrysler 300C (a car I have driven a few times). Called the Wife quickly and got ordered to take the 300 because she didn’t want an SUV (but she had to concede on the fact that the car had keyless start, aka Push Button). So in the car and off to Vegas it was!

I planned on stopping at a Target in Victorville to get supplies (water, snacks etc) but missed the turn off, and ended up stopping at the Walmart in Barstow instead. Then it was a matter of just sitting back and eating up the miles. Covered the drive in about 4 hours, pretty good time. The car was faultless (and i could hear this wierd sound, which i thought was in the glovebox turns out it was in the back seat and it was an empty bottle from the previous renter.. not good National!). But by the time I got to Vegas, I was starving! Crossing the border into Nevada has a new bit of scenery with a Giant Solar Power Plant dominating the landscape & then you cross the border and the first thing you see is Casinos (probably empty ones).

Driving into Vegas though is always an excitement, the skyline just screams money. Huge towers, lots of lights, neon, colors, yet the horizon is flat. Flat, Flat, Flat! Still it was good to be back, just a different experience this time since I wasn’t here to see planes (well, maybe I did get a little bit in before the sun went down). Caught up for Dinner with a friend in town for a conference at a Burger place that was really good (wouldn’t say it was the best ever, but it was really good) and then went to Jet Tila’s new Ice Cream place (and I liked it!). Asleep by 1030 on a day that had been extremely long (up at 330am to hit the gym). Needed to get my sleep as Heidi would be getting off her flight around 8:30am the next day.

Current Location: Fairfield Inn & Suites Las Vegas “Airport”
Miles Driven: 300m
States Visited: 2
Nights on the Road: 1
Slim Jims Consumed by Heidi: 0

We will remember them.

Today is the 11th Day of the 11th month. In the USA it is Veterans Day, in Australia we called it Remembrance Day, but either way it is the same. We pay tribute to the Men & Women who served our countries in times of war or in peace. Those who may have paid the price to give us our freedoms today.

For me this day (like ANZAC Day) has a special meaning. My Grandfather fought in World War II, in both Africa & the Pacific. My father served his time in National Service & also the CMF (what is now the reserves in Australia). Without their services I wouldn’t have the life I have today. To say that my life would be different is correct (who knows what life would be like), but I always think back to what they did for their country.

The Stewart Brothers, with my Grandfather on the left.  Known as Charlie to everyone, he was a member of the 2/2nd Australian Machine Gun Battalion, 9th Division AIF (Australian Imperial Force)

The Stewart Brothers, with my Grandfather on the left. Known as Charlie to everyone, he was a member of the 2/2nd Australian Machine Gun Battalion, 9th Division AIF (Australian Imperial Force)

My Grandfather will always have a special place in my heart. He never spoke of his time in the army, but it was after his passing that I read about what he did, who he fought with. He went to Africa with the 2/2nd MG Btln, fighting at the 2nd battle if Alamein and he returned unharmed, barely. The one story that always resonates is just how easy a moment can effect your life. My grandfather was in the trenches, reading stuff from home to his buddies, his fellow soldiers. When he cramped & he changed places with someone to stretch out. Moments later that person who took his place was killed by a grenade. That could have been my grandfather, just moments changed his life.

Saving Private Ryan talks about the story of a family who loses 3 of 4 brothers in wartime & what they did to get one of them out. My grandfather went to war with 2 of his brothers, 2 to the same unit & yet they all came home alive, safe & sound. Something I am sure is extremely lucky. Would that have happened to my family had someone passed, who knows.

I do have strong ties to my Grandfathers WWII Unit Association back home and it hurts that I can’t be there to help support them on days like this, when the membership dwindles and there are only a handful of the “originals” left. It makes it harder to be seperated from Family back home. But Veterans day is a big day over here, and support for Veterans and the Military in the USA is far different to that back home in Australia.

On this Day I wish to thank all that have served and give you one final piece. You will never be forgotten.

Lest We Forget.

Honeymoon Time!

Now that Heidi and I are married, it’s time for that age old tradition of the Honeymoon. We had the perfect trip originally planned for November. Heidi & I were flying off to Japan for an amazing trip to Tokyo & Osaka. Staying at amazing hotels (two nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo) & flying home on Singapore Suites.

Sadly, we have had to cancel that trip. Why? Well it’s complicated but let’s just say that if I go overseas right now, i won’t be able to come back, thanks to a small little clause called “Dual Intent”. So knowing we couldn’t leave the country we decided to again do something different. We both love road trips, driving long distances, seeing things, old school diners on the side of the road. Could we factor that into our honeymoon?

Heidi, ever being the smart woman I love and always the instigator suggested Tucson as part of our trip. We had talked about visiting PIMA & the Boneyard. But we couldn’t just go for that. We talked about Vegas as well. Why don’t we do both? Why don’t we drive all the way there and back to LAX then we don’t lose another flight & the costs (we lost about $500 all up cancelling Japan). So then we started working out where to stop, how long for, what we wanted to do. We kept getting our plans solidified & with a wealth of points & credits available from Barclaycard , Capital One & Amex meant we could get away fairly cheaply. I have a boatload of Club Carlson points from my time working their credit card & with an offer that states that as long as I have their card every 2nd night of a stay is free when redeeming points. Score!

So in the end we decided on 2 nights Vegas, 1 night Grand Canyon (Heidi has never visited), 1 night Sedona, 2 nights Tucson, 2 nights Anaheim & 2 nights at Ontario California. When we looked into picking up the car, the taxes were extremely high. If you pick up a car in vegas, they charge you a fee of like $6 a  day, just for picking up there. Even if you were dropping off there, you still had to pay it. So I looked at picking up in LAX and driving through to Vegas. My leave was always a day ahead of Heidi’s, so I checked & the costs were certainly in our benefit. So guess who is driving the car to Vegas? Me!

Our trip doesn’t look that flashy for parts of it. Staying at Holiday Inn Express or Country Inn’s but there wasn’t much choice in some areas & the points come in handy. But we have a couple of splurge places. In Sedona I am giving Kimpton one last shot. My Inner Circle status expires end of this year & after our last try, we are going to see if this will be any better. They have an amazing looking hotel in Sedona & it’s worth giving it a try. In Vegas we found a rate at Mandalay Bay that was pretty spectacular, a suite for $70 a night, yes please!

In really looking forward to this trip. It will be the longest vacation I have taken since I moved to the USA so it should be relaxing. But it is also the first real time Heidi & I will get a chance to get away from life & relax, enjoy our married life & let our hair down.

Bring on the fun!

Getting Hitched…. Part 3!

Now that Heidi & I are married we have a whole life ahead of us, but I want to say a big thank you to some people (Heidi will have her own thanks).

Jen & Ronnie: Thank you for being the couple that allowed us to use your services on the day. Jen for being our officiant and our photographer, without those two pivotal things, a wedding isn’t truly possible. Ronnie for helping with photos and just being the general awesome guy that you are. Your generosity is always something I have loved about you both and if I can have a married life as good as yours, I will be happy forever.

Dan: Thanks for being my best man, not that you did much else but at least for being there to say “Are you sure you want to do this” and “Don’t do it”. Like any best man says to their friend, even though he knows that it is the right decision, he should make his friend stop and think for a second. Plus… your my best mate :D

Heidi’s Parents: Thank you for allowing me to marry your daughter. I love her, cherish her and will do anything I can in life to protect her. I will love her till my last breath and every day I spend with her till then will be an enjoyment. Thank you for accepting me into your family and allowing me to be a part of your lives, you both make me feel like I am at home whenever we visit you.

Heidi’s Grandparents: Thank you for giving me the ring from your Grandfather (my wedding band belongs to Heidi’s Great Grandfather) and allowing me to keep this piece of family history alive. I also want to say thank you for the cake pans. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to make that cake! Your Granddaughter means a lot to me and having you both there meant a lot to us. I love that you have accepted me into the family and that I feel like I also have some grandparents. Since I lost my last grandparent a number of years ago, that feeling is special to me.

My Parents: Mum & Dad, thank you for being who you are. As much as I would have loved to have you with me and Heidi at the wedding, I understand the sacrifices you have to make. I know that you would have wanted to be there yourself, but like we told you, we will have a big party back home in Australia for everyone so you can see and meet Heidi yourself. Thank you for sending over my Grandmothers ring, it is something that I know Heidi loves and being able to keep a piece of family history alive makes me happy. One of the things that Grandpa taught me was to always love and cherish your wife, watching him make her breakfast in bed every morning was something that I will always remember, and will always try to do for Heidi, in honor of our family back home. Mum & Dad you mean the world to me and I truly hope that my married life is as good as yours has been. I can’t wait for you to meet Heidi.

Julia, Nate & Everyone at the Museum of Flight: Thank you so much for everything you did. Allowing us the use of RA001 was a big thing for us. You allowed us to celebrate our marriage in a way we never thought we would be able to and to do something truly unique. We hope that whatever we can do, will be enough to repay you however our gratitude towards you all will be forever!

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren: I know that your day did not end the way you had expected, that you did not think you would be taking photos at our wedding that day, but thank you for being there and giving us some truly memorable and beautiful photos. I know that we joked that you started the day working a piece for USA Today, but then you “crashed our wedding” and we hope that you had a blast doing it!

My friends everywhere: We are sorry you could not join us at the wedding, It was a big day and I would have loved to have everyone I know there. But at what point do we draw the line? We wished we could have fit everyone inside the 747, or to stream it live to the web, but we wanted a small, intimate wedding. We will celebrate our marriage in the new year both here in Seattle and in Australia and we will invite you to attend that celebration, so you too can celebrate our marriage. I hope that the videos and photos will suffice for the moment.

To everyone who gave us gifts: Both Heidi & I thank you for the lovely gifts that you have all given us. You will all get cards and individual thank you’s but we do love everything we have received. Some of the gifts are being put towards things around our apartment, while others are being put towards our honeymoon, where during our experiences on that trip, we will remember you in that moment.

I know that I have so many people I could thank but my brain is not all that great and you know I am forgetful. I can truly say that I married the most amazing woman in my life. As I looked Heidi in the eyes in the plane and said I do, I know that I married the right person, the one that I love and that I did in fact tick something off my bucket list that day. Not only did I start a family with the woman I love, but I also kissed the most beautiful woman alive…

Heidi… I love you.

Getting Hitched… Part 2!

With the wedding fast approaching and the cake plans fully covered, we had just small bits and pieces till the wedding itself. The main thing was that Heidi was going to keep the tradition of not seeing me till the wedding from the night before. I wasn’t all that happy about it, since my friends were working pretty much the day off and the day before, so I settled in to an night alone on the couch. My last night as a legally single man, spent on the couch, watching tv, with Heidi’s teddy bear Bigfoot for company (yeah I am sure you have seen a few photos of the culprit floating around). Thrilling!

Wedding morning rolls around and I spend the morning taking a run around the streets to clear my head. A quick oatmeal breakfast and it was time to get the cake transported. I barely had time to breat with that done to head over to a friends place to iron my shirt (since we don’t have an iron) and then by the time that was finished I had under 90 minutes before I had to get some flowers, head home and get ready for the wedding and be out of the house. Heidi wanted to use our apartment as the staging ground for getting ready, fine with me but traffic on the 405 and a failed attempt at getting some flowers meant I had to rush to get ready :(

I made it out of the house by the assigned time and headed over to the Museum of flight. I was able to calm myself down by meeting the designer of the 747 and the Boeing Chief Pilot who were there to give a talk on 747 day. Unfortunately they wouldn’t have been able to be present for the wedding (how amazing would it be to have the designer of the 747, sign my wedding certificate as a Witness!), but just getting a chance to meet them was truly an honor.

I was able to take that time to shock a few friends who didn’t know about the wedding as here I was at the Museum in full suit & tie. Truly loved shocking people with the whole “I’m getting married in the first 747″, lots of fun! After the talk it was only a short time before Heidi arrived and we were off to get our photos taken. We wanted to do our photos before the ceremony due to light. The moment I saw Heidi, I was gobsmacked…. I had never seen her look so beautiful in my life. I wanted to take in that moment forever! With the wedding photos about to get started, I had not expected someone else to show up but an Aviation Journalist colleague of mine, Jeremy turned up. It was a shock to him as I said to him “What are you doing here” “Shooting a wedding for USA Today” “O, I guess that’s my wedding you’re shooting!”

We spent the next while getting photos taken all over the museum, with planes, with statues, goofy, serious, everything you would expect. We slowly and progressively moved our way from one side of the museum to the plane itself. The museum shut at 5pm and once that was done, we had free reign of everything in the Air Park and RA001 for an hour. We had a blast getting some photos, but there was serious business. We got set up on the main deck, in the nose of the aircraft and the ceremony began once Heidi and worked her way up the stairs:

The wedding went off greatly, we read our vows (which we had written obviously) from Safety cards (we couldn’t find any 747 ones, so went with what we had, two Southwest 737 cards) and we signed our marriage certificate on the original design model of the 747. After some more photos of everyone and our first as a married couple, we headed away from the museum to Dinner at a restaurant in Columbia City. Nothing huge just a small family style dinner to celebrate the day. Cake was had, food was consumed (which for Me & Heidi was some of the first that day) and much fun was conducted. Heidi & I finished our wedding night off by walking across the street for ice cream at Full Tilt, because nothing says the end of our day like Ice Cream.

Getting Married in a 747

That Damn Cake

One of the things that I decided with our wedding was to continue a tradition (well kind of) that my father did when he got married. Some of you know that my father cooks a lot. One of his most known food items, is “the cake”. He makes the best fruit cake (or as some people call it, rum cake). When he got engaged he had made his usual cake and had transported it to Sydney where he was visiting my mother. When they got engaged, they decided to keep that piece of fruit cake and use it as the Top tier of their wedding cake. So what did I do with our cake? Rather than make one tier… how about the whole cake! It would save us money, we could have EXACTLY what we wanted and I could be happy with what we achieved.

We wanted at least 2 tiers, but wanted to have a cake that we could freeze the top tier (per that tradition) till our first anniversary. So that meant a multiple tier cake. I wasn’t sure if an 8″ cake and a 6″ cake would be enough, so we ended up with 3 tiers, just to make sure we had enough cake. We were only having a small “reception” (more on that in the next installment) but I wanted to make sure everyone had some cake, and some to take home as well. It may have caused many, many “discussions” with Heidi, but in the end we both were happy.

The cake was decided on a Lemon Buttermilk cake (we found the recipe online actually) and with a filling of Lemon Curd. The frosting was the part that we always went backwards and forwards over. Unfortunately Heidi doesn’t like fondant, so it meant that we had to have a soft frosted cake. I wanted to make sure I had a frosting that wasn’t to heavy with the cake, but Heidi wanted full buttercream, something that could be quite heavy.

We tested it several times over to find the right one. In the end with the wedding cake, there was a total of 10 cakes made…. that’s right, 10 sponges. 2 double layer test cakes (so that is 4 cakes right there) plus the actual cake itself. It was a lot of cake! Each cake had almost a half dozen eggs, so much flour, butter, sugar. O lordy just thinking about it scares me!

But let’s look at some of the pictures:

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

That’s what my kitchen looked like after the first set of 8 sponges being made that day!

From Life in Seattle 2014

Thankfully I have a nice high powered stand mixer!

From Life in Seattle 2014

8 Sponges, 6 for the wedding cake and 2 for the final test cake

From Life in Seattle 2014

The Final test cake, testing 2 different kinds of frosting, mere days before the wedding

From Life in Seattle 2014

Starting assembly

From Life in Seattle 2014

First Tier Complete

From Life in Seattle 2014

Lots of Frosting!

From Life in Seattle 2014

2nd tier ready to go up

From Life in Seattle 2014

Starting the frosting process

From Life in Seattle 2014

Final Tier Up

From Life in Seattle 2014

The Final Cake!

So the day of the wedding came around, I had already spent two full days stressing over the cake (don’t even start me on almost covering the kitchen in frosting due to the mixer almost overflowing with Swiss Meringue Frosting) and I had one last thing to do. I had hoped that it would be an easy day, just drive the cake from Renton to Columbia City to the restaurant and it would all be ok…. Nope! I got the cake ready to travel and since I spent the night alone (again, more in the next piece) I had to get it over to the restaurant alone and as easily as possible.

From Life in Seattle 2014

It rained unfortunately that morning so here I am stressing to make sure the cake has no marks, or any problems while I transport it down 4 floors to the car park, then on wet, crappy Seattle roads drive it across town. Joy of Joys! I had barely gotten the cake into the car when this:

From Life in Seattle 2014

The seatbelt slipped out of my hands and caught the top of the cake. I was swearing, cussing, all kinds of bad things, but thankfully I still had frosting and had it in a container in the freezer. I ran upstairs and grabbed it, along with a pallette knife and off to the restaurant. Once I got there I fixed it, and I also left the extra frosting there, just in case. In the end I did have to make a few touch ups to the cake right when they bought the cake out of the kitchen as unfortunately the staff didn’t treat it that kindly.

But the cake was a success, everyone liked it and it was a good choice. We still have the top tier in our freezer and it will sit there for a solid year. I don’t regret making the cake, but to anyone contemplating making a wedding cake…. DON’T DO IT!

Getting Hitched… Part 1.

So I am sure you may have seen all the stuff on Facebook or Twitter or AirlineReporter.com about our wedding. Well they were just little teasers about it all. Let’s look at how it all went down, It may take a couple of installments but hey it will be worth it.

Heidi & I both agreed that we wanted to get married quickly for a few different reasons.

1. We wanted to make sure that our lives together were protected in case something bad happened
2. We didn’t want to cause any problems with Heidi’s Uni Work. She is in the final year of her Masters and with an upcoming Student Teaching and also the Holiday period at her Job, things could get messy.
3. Why wait?
4. Profit…? (sorry it always seems to be the way to end these kinds of lists).

So we wanted to get married soon, within a two week period. The first thing we did, before anything else (even before I had technically asked Heidi’s dad for permission) was get our marriage license. The state of Washington requires a 72 hour waiting period once this is done, so we just had to do it soon so that we didn’t have complications later. Then the biggest decision was where to get married. Neither of us wanted a big wedding. Did we go down the line of getting married in a park somewhere or the “beach”. Would we be better off getting married in the courthouse? So many options. We started looking around and the Courthouse thing just didn’t seem right, although the easiest, it was a hassle to arrange. Plus I had a friend who could officiate, so that could take away some of the hassles. But where to get married then? King County required a permit to use a park or beach etc for something like that. The prices ranged to as much as $400! All of that for what would be 15-20 minutes at most. PASS!

I had chatted with my friends at Future of Flight jokingly and they suggested if it wasn’t many people, we could get married on the Stratodeck. Sounded good, but I no longer lived up north. Being a south King County person, Everett was a long way to go! So in a random joking kind of way, after having read some stuff about the refurbishment of the 747 at the Museum of Flight being finished, I suggested we get married under it. Heidi being ever so smart said “What if it Rains?” We live in Seattle, it is October, it will probably rain the day of our wedding. Yeah… Very good point. Heidi then solved the problem herself “What if we get married inside the plane?”. I thought to myself “This is why I am marrying this girl!”

So the next morning we were over by Boeing Field. I was off getting a couple of photos of a plane departing BFI:

From Seattle Spotting 2014

That should keep the avgeeks happy.

So Heidi & I popped over to the Museum of Flight to see a contact I have at the Museum. While talking we talked about the 747 and then i dropped the ball. “How about a Wedding Inside the 747?” “Sure, do you know someone who would? “How about us?”. Seeing our contact’s face light up, the gears in her head just turning, it was glorious. We had to keep it quiet as it is a small space and couldn’t do much. So the plans were on, we were super excited at the possibilities of what it could bring, but mainly it was such an iconic venue, how could you not want to do it!


Last night driving home across the 520 Bridge in the storm that was raging was pretty scary. The gale force winds were whipping waves up over the floating bridge and crashing down on the road deck. What is normally a 50 mile an hour bridge, was down to 20 or 30 just so you could see things. It was pretty scary, but then so was having to tell Heidi’s father that I wanted to marry her.

This little conversation with Heidi’s dad still had to happen. It was something we had always discussed as Heidi had said that if I was ever to marry her, she would expect to get her fathers blessing first. So we were not officially engaged till I had that conversation. I was dreading this moment, because it is a moment that any man will dread. Having to look the father of the bride in the eyes and say “I would like to marry your daughter”.

Now Heidi’s dad is not that scary. It wasn’t going to pull a gun on me, or threaten me, he just isn’t that person. That didn’t mean that I was as nervous as anything. What if he said no? What if he said that he did not think I was good enough. I don’t know why I was worried because both of Heidi’s parents gave me their blessing but it still had me worried.

Some things in life are scary. I look at life every day and wonder just how I get through things. I was scared to make the step on the plane a couple of years back. I was scared the day I married Heidi. I wanted to make sure that everything I was doing was right. Well in life you can never be certain of anything. You just have to do what is right, do what you think is right. Take the good with the bad and go for it head first.

At least that is how I look at it!