Introduction
Seattle to Los Angeles to Houston to Tulsa
Oklahoma
Oklahoma City to Seattle

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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

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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!

So I have been slack lately it seems. Not updating the site in sooooooooooo long. But to be honest, it is hard sometimes with work taking up so much of my time. Since I have been working night shift 4 days out of 5 for the last few weeks my patterns are well out of wack. It isn’t an excuse, but it does the point.

Life has been otherwise ok, the birthday celebrations went well and included a sugar rush that turned into a sugar hangover (and boy was that not a fun come down!) and now it is back to work and back to training as well. I know I meant to write a post about what I am training for (And I promise i will this time) but that isn’t today’s post. Today’s post is about a weird dream I had last night and what it means?

This morning I had to be up at 530am and low and behold I wake up after a bad dream around 5:15am… Joy. Not being able to get a solid sleep after waking up from a bad dream is a crappy thing and makes you feel all the more awful. But what was it that had me waking up like that? How about being strafed by a plane? Yeah that sounds like watching something I would enjoy, except this was extremely vivid, and I seemed to be the target.

I am not sure why it happened, but in the dream I was watching as a Bearcat (like the one that is flown at HFF) came barreling towards the house at low level. Now this wasn’t the apartment I currently live in but the house I grew up in, in Australia. As the plane came in at low level, I hit the deck as it was so low I figured it might hit the top of the house, but instead it started firing its cannons at me. O Dear! Bullets hit the top of the house and I survived the first pass. Moments later a second plane came around on a similar set up. This time it was a P-51 Mustang and it too began strafing the house and as bullets were clanging around the house, I woke up.

It was one of the weirdest dreams I have had in a while (and I have had some doozies in the past, especially when I am on Cold and Flu Drugs). Anyone have any idea what it could mean?

Today is my final day of being 33 years old. This year has gone by so fast, that I can’t believe I am here already. Things have been amazing the last 12 months and a lot has happened, stuff I never thought would. But it has not been an easy year either.

This time last year I was just in a relationship with Heidi, working in a job that didn’t really make me all that happy. Fast forward 12 months, I have a wife, I am working a job that really makes me happy and living a life that is not only challenging, but also fulfilling.

Last year on my birthday I had a fantastic day being spoiled rotten by Heidi. She bought me donuts and lunch at my work in Bellevue, and I came home to dinner and a cake made especially for me (Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting…. it was DELICIOUS!). This year will be different, I’ll be heading to work (since Wednesdays are night shift for me) and I won’t really get to see Heidi at all. But it won’t matter too much. I will get to spend the whole weekend with her and my friends, so that will help.

My next 12 months are going to be a big new adventure for me. Heidi and I have a lot of plans, I would love to be able to head to Australia sometime in the next 12 months so Heidi can meet my family. I also want to try and work on my fear of boats (more on that to come). I should also get the big day with the immigration department to get things organised and that will be a big important day for both of us. I also want to keep working at my current job, helping to make things better and better every day, making that job more fun for everyone.

As I make another rotation around the sun, I want to give a shout out to everyone who wishes me happy birthday, thank you all for your wishes. Now if you can somehow make those wishes turn into birthday gifts, that would be so much better? What… don’t judge me. I like presents!

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.