Well this will be a little different for a trip report for me in a little while. I am going to try to update on a daily/bi daily timeframe. I am about to set foot on what some would think would be a stupid trip. I have a goal to visit all 50 states in the USA and over the last few years i have slowly ticked off quite a few. As they dwindle down it gets a little harder each time. These days I am down to single digits and it makes it difficult to get them. They are kind of spread out and they are also the states that are not that interesting to me. I like to think of them as the flyover states. So i tried to look for a way to get as many of them as possible. I also promised a friend I would come visit him out in Raleigh in 2016, so a plan started to happen.

Originally I was going to fly into Raleigh and take my time driving up to Cincinatti. Why? Well Cincinnati’s airport is in Kentucky, one of the states I have not been to. Then add on the fact that between Raleigh and Cincinatti is West Virginia, another states that I need and a plan was set. However when time came to book all this, i couldn’t get flights to work to get me home from Cincinatti, so I took the option of expanding out in a circle the drive. First it was the surrounding cities.. nothing. then i went out further, nothing. I stretched out to Chicago and it was bare. So I started to think, what if I took it and did something Crazy? I could add two more states by driving to Omaha in Nebraska (adding Iowa on the way). It was possible (not great, all day driving) but it could be done. It would be just me, 8 hours a day in a car but I could do it and get 4 states out of the way dropping me to 6! It was stupid, but why not!

I tagged on a trip to Southern California with the wife for Mid winter break and I added in some fun for myself in the process. Flights to SoCal were horrific (hello holidays) but I found cheap fares to Orange County. They also had availability for an AA F redemption to Raleigh, allowing me to add a new airport a new carrier (since I haven’t truly flown AA yet on RPT) and also a new aircraft, for me, the MD-80. Plans were in motion. I booked the car turn around from SNA and kept my eye on it for a while. By the time the trip came around I had all the hotels worked out and everything neatly in its place.

It would be a messy trip but this is what it would look like for me:

My trip to add 4 new states

My trip to add 4 new states

The big gap in the middle will be me in a car! Here I sit in SeaTac airport getting ready for the first segment So keep an eye on the website, my facebook/twitter and this is going to be interesting!

In 2015 Heidi and I spent a lot of time in rental cars, mainly because it was fun. It started way back at the start of the year when it was raining and ruined our plans for the day. We had a free day and within 20 minutes of getting up, we had a free day rental booked for the same day and off we went to pick it up. That tradition continued throughout the year and any time we wanted to go for a road trip somewhere for the day, we would grab a rental and get something fun, and new.

So let’s look back at those 12 rentals that I had during 2015 and figure out which one was best. (A side note that Heidi likes to name cars, so we kept the tradition going in naming the car after something that kind of fit. Our rental car during our honeymoon was called Spartan because it was a Chrysler 300. Like the movie…. 300 ;)… ok back to it).

First up was “Ghost” the 2014 Dodge Challenger

From Seattle Life 2015

Pretty decent car, Heidi’s first Challenger. I still think that if i had to get a 2 door coupe, this would be it. Prefer this over a Camaro or a Mustang.

Next up was a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Heidi named it Crater (all my photos point to the name of Moby… but you know, go with the wife).

From Seattle Life 2015

Pretty good drive, fully loaded, but the gas tank on this thing was HUGE!

Next up was a 2015 Ford Explorer Limited… meet Clarke

From Seattle Life 2015

Named after one of the famous explorers in the PNW. Not a bad car at all, pretty comfy for 4 people.

Next up was Sled a 2014 Camaro

From Seattle Life 2015

The Camaro was not to bad, but it was basic basic and we had some problems with it because it was filthy!

Next up was another Challenger, this time a 2015 and we called it Gary (i don’t remember why).

From Vegas 2015

Pretty decent upgrades over the 2014, still love it!

Keeping up with the SUV theme for the year… take this new Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Because it was a Chereokee it got a slightly racist name of Kemosabie

From Seattle Life 2015

Pretty decent car, again fully loaded and comfortable to drive!

Then there was the Dodge Durango, I wanted to get one of these before it was finished.

From Dorkfest 2015

Because this one was rented on my own in LAX with my friends… no name. Still liked the car, it was fully loaded (including remote start).

When i headed out to Oklahoma I ended up with a 2015 Altima, it was not a bad car, but it was not really what I wanted. Again this time had problems, but National came through in the end.

From Oklahoma Trip

When we headed out to Spokane in Early October, we ended up with this guy…

From Spokane Trip

Meet Troy our new 2015 Chrysler 300. Not as loaded as others, but still pretty well set up. Enjoyed this car, well worth it!

One car I had been wanting to try all year was a GMC Acadia. I had turned down the chance to take one on our honeymoon and took the 300 instead. So we took Joan for our weekend roadtrip to Portland.

From First Anniversary Roadtrip

The car wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. I just wasn’t all that thrilled with it compared to a Durango (same class).

Car #11 was Shiny, a new 2016 Ford Explorer.

From Seattle Life 2015

We took this out to the Tri Cities area and I was really happy with it. If I had the choice of an Explorer or an Acadia, the Explorer would win.

Our last car of the year was one that I didn’t really get to pick. When you pick up from a Downtown location, you often don’t get a choice and this is what we go.

From Seattle Life 2015

Meet Matthew the Lincoln MKX. Not a bad car, not fantastic either. Pretty basic for a “luxury” car maker.

All in all the years worth of cars was pretty good. I don’t think we will end up with the same amount of rentals this year, but the free days were fun. We paid for a couple of rentals, and got a few freebies as well. It sure was a lot of fun. Looking back, my favorite cars over 2015 would have to have been the Durango, the Jeep and the 300. I do still love Challengers and the one we had in Vegas confirmed that fact. But National has been good to me in 2015, let’s see what 2016 brings!

2015 was a very different year than expected.  There was a considerable amount of change and any goals I tried to accomplish were just not going to happen, so rather than look back on those goals, I am instead going to look back on the year as a whole.

2015 started off as a year of waiting.  The paperwork for our immigration applications were submitted just days before 2014 ended and so the year started with the feeling that the wait would never end.  Heidi and I celebrated our first year together and then the Patriots won the Superbowl, much to my wife’s (and most of Seattle’s) displeasure.  By the end of February I was looking for new work and spent a good month trying to get a job.  I took a temporary job doing hard labor but in a good position (on the ramp at the airport) but managed to secure myself a job that has lasted to date.  I travelled to Germany for a trip I have wanted to do for a number of years and spent time with an old friend.

As the year went on my travelling was slowing back down but Heidi and I still kept on going together.  We spent more time doing 1 day road trips, all over the place and enjoyed it immensely (mainly because we weren’t taking our cars).  But work continued on and on, I began working nights and that meant that Heidi and I would not see each other as often as we would like, something that continues to this day.  I got to do some travelling in towards the end of the year, but nothing as crazy as the old days.  Those crazy days of long mileage runs or frequent trips are history now.

Heidi has had a big year herself, as she spent a good number of months doing her student teaching all while working and going back and forth to uni at the same time.   Working three jobs at once essentially took their toll and she has had so many ups and downs I could hardly keep up.  We still love spending every minute together we can, but it hasn’t been easy at all.  We do our best and we keep on working things out, together.  We celebrated our first wedding anniversary this year, it was not really a big affair, but then that’s us, we aren’t really big on that kind of stuff for parties etc.

This year will see some more travelling on the books.  Since Heidi and I never really took a true vacation last year because of all the job changes, this will be good for both of us.  I can’t wait for Heidi to get down to Australia and spend some time with my friends and family.  But it will also mean a return to Singapore and Tokyo for me and some of the things I enjoy, the pointy end of planes!  I am sure the new year will bring on other advantages and changes, but here is to 2016……. Bring it on!

Well the year is almost over for real (my travel days are numbered this year a while back) and since everyone else is doing it, I might as well right! Not as much travel this year as last, but then it was a small year last year anyway. This year had some craziness back in the mix, purely because I could.

This is what my year looks like on a map

Not that big of a year of flying... but still plenty of fun.

Not that big of a year of flying… but still plenty of fun.

That is a total of 23418 miles. I wouldn’t even make silver on any one airline with that amount of flying… *sigh*. But hey… who cares right! Let’s break that down to some stats:

Total Miles: 23418
Total Flights: 16
Longest Flight: Seattle to Frankfurt – 5109 miles
Shortest Flight: Seattle to Spokane – 224 Miles
New Airports: 5 – Frankfurt, Newark, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Spokane
New Airlines: Condor
New Aircraft: Boeing 787-9, Boeing 747-8i
Most Flown Airline: TIED! United – 6, Alaska Airlines – 6
Most Flown Aircraft: Boeing 737 (all variants) – 6

I managed to get one new state (Oklahoma) but no new countries in the mix (in fact the only time I visited another country was my trip to Frankfurt). I will have a separate post on all the driving we did this year, rating mine and Heidi’s favorite rental cars of 2015.

Next years travel will make for a much longer year for miles, purely because Heidi and I are travelling back to Australia and then up to Asia. But for the moment, there is still some craziness involved. If all goes to plan I should be able to knock my unvisited states to practically nothing.

Here is to a good travel year in 2016!

Christmas has always been important to me. As an Australian it is the big day at the end of the year, one to bring together all of the family. But here in the USA for some people it isn’t that important (religious differences have nothing to do with that statement of course), for some Thanksgiving is that day. That is how it is in Heidi’s family, so that is the day we need to be together. Christmas for her family is not that big of a deal. It is not a must do thing, but for me, it’s all I have.

Christmas is a tough day though. It is the one day I miss home more than anything, because I can’t see my family. So it is the day that I want to be with my new family, to celebrate the one true holiday in my heart. This year was going to be even harder than normal, because I drew the short straw and had to work. When you work somewhere that is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, someone has to work right? Well I did work and it was ok, but it didn’t make the day feel special. I didn’t want to even try as I had a shift that had me away from home most of the day. So Heidi and her parents decided to try and make what was left of my Christmas time special.

We had a brunch at her parents house yesterday (the 26th) and it was less like Boxing Day and more like Christmas Day. Which is funny because the tradition of boxing day is that the “servants” who had to work on Christmas day were allowed to have the next day off to celebrate with their families. Sound about right? So we traded gifts and had a fantastic time. Spent time as a family and after all the relaxing and enjoyment, we spent the afternoon watching a movie and tv. It was pretty much a good day!

I managed to get some very cool presents as well. Heidi’s cousin made us both some stockings for next year and they are pretty unique. Heidi’s has a Cat on it, mine has a Kangaroo. Heidi’s parents got us a waffle maker (now to figure out what this Chicken and Waffles thing is all about) and Heidi got me an amazing gift. She got me my spirit animal. A Raccoon!!! I have my own little Raccoon (hand puppet) and I have named him Cheese. Some Australian’s might get it, most American’s will not.

Although I had to work this year, Christmas was a pretty good day. I got to spend time with family, eat some foods (hello treats!) and enjoy giving gifts to the special people in my life.

Merry Christmas Y’all!

Ever had a moment where you see something, know something is wrong but your mind doesn’t quite work it out for a few seconds. You just stand there thinking “What is wrong”. Well that happened this morning. Heidi and I were heading out to see her folks and put our bikes in storage for the winter. As we came downstairs into the garage of our apartment complex all was ok. We were out on time, we had coffee in hand, had both been to the gym and were nice and relaxed. As I walked over to the truck though, it took a second for me to realize something was wrong. Heidi didn’t even see it but I knew straight away something was up. That something took a second or two to really sink in, but my bike was missing.

Earlier in the year, during spring when we took our bikes out of storage they had a nice new home. Thule make a fantastic bike carrier for the back of a truck. It is a secure mount that has locks so that the bikes are held in and only the person with a key can remove it, or so I thought. They didn’t touch Heidi’s bike they just took mine and it was clear gone from the rack. They had removed the entire mount from the truck and taken it along with the bike. They then decided that they needed the front wheel (as removing the front wheel is required to use the mount). So with a bolt cutter they cut clean through the chain that was used to lock the wheels to the truck and just slid it off, again leaving Heidi’s front wheel behind.

So the secure garage we park the truck in, really isn’t secure. They didn’t touch the truck, or damage it in any way, all they did was take my bike. We called the police immediately and they sent someone over to take down a police report. So that was done. I also called our insurance company, not sure if it would matter but I did make a claim so that if something does happen, if it can be covered in any way, i might get help in replacing it. The cop took down the details, but i knew the reality, I probably wasn’t going to get anything back, ever.

After doing what we needed to do today, we finally got back to the apartment and I notified them of the theft as well. They didn’t really seem to care at all. I will be surprised if they do anything, or say anything. A lot of people I am sure will say they are sorry, that they understand it must hurt. To be honest, I don’t know what I feel. It was a bike, it wasn’t as if it was something irreplaceable. Don’t get me wrong, this bike has a lot of sentimental value. It was my first EVER bike. The bike I learned to ride, the bike that I did my first Triathlon on. A Bike that I had used to go on rides with Heidi, while we were still dating (we took it across I-90 a couple of times, took it on the “Trail of Death” as I call it in Federal Way). So this bike did have a lot of big meaning in my heart, but not something I will lose sleep over I guess.

So to the person who has my bike (who I doubt will see this) enjoy it. It gave me a lot of pleasure, here’s hoping that you get what you want from it. If anyone does happen to see a White Hardtail Mountain Bike around Renton with Avanti Aggressor on it (A brand that you can’t find here in the USA). Tell the cops, please.

Ugh, an almost solid week of rain and the end of daylight savings means one thing, winter is coming. It’s

annoying but it is life.

Work will start slowing down which is fantastic, yet bad at the same time. All of Seattle will change as the trees start dropping leaves and disappearing entirely. The end if the year is busy with thanksgiving, then Heidi’s birthday and then Christmas shortly after. Struggle street

and yet not at the same time.  So much food, so much candy and baking too. I have much to do

this Christmas.

But it’s also a time i dislike not just because of the temperature. The fact I can’t go out and go for a run because it’s raining, or ride my bike because it’s raining (or too cold). It’s a crappy time if the year.  I guess it’s time to start running on the treadmill and sucking it up.

This post doesn’t have many special meaning just more of a whinge. At least it’s not pitch black out at 7am now. Thank god for small mercies.

Today is 1 year from the day that I stepped foot into a 747 and that moment changed my life. It wasn’t to fly anywhere, it was to start something that would begin a journey.. one together. I am talking about the moment that Heidi and I got married.

From Getting Married in a 747

The first day I met Heidi, it was just a coffee date, and things went mixed from there. We had several other dates, but we wanted to “take it slow” and I did say that to a friend (a fact she points out to me all the time). That didn’t really happen as we were married last October. But it was right and it was something we both wanted to do. So now fast forward a year. A lot has changed in that time, but one thing has not, my love for Heidi.

I still love that woman with all my heart, each and every day. She makes me smile, she makes me laugh and I love every moment we spend together. Our daily lives may keep us apart most of the time (I work nights, she works days) but those moments when we can see each other mean the most to me. Being able to see her smile, brings a smile to my face. On this special day we get to celebrate our future together and think back to that moment in the first 747. Making a commitment to each other, one that will continue, forever.

Heidi Muir (yes, she has started the process to change her name), I love you the most.

It has been a busy few weeks and that has cut back on my posting. Actually life in general has cut back my posting as of late if I’m to be honest. With a full time job on the cards and life at home it is tough to blog these days (or at least have interesting things to talk about). I have done so much travel as of late that my weekends have had me more out of the house than in it.

After the two trips in September (one to LAX the other to Oklahoma), I was not ready to stop. The weekend after Oklahoma we did a lot of stuff downtown (does that count as travelling?) and spent time with our friends.  Then it was back on the road. Last weekend we flew to Spokane and it was my first time flying out there.  Everyone I spoke to about that trip asked us why we were flying  why didn’t we just drive. “it’s only 5 hours”. Yeah only 5! Considering flights were on sale when Alaska ran a points promotion, dropping tickets to 5000 each way, how could I not!

I found out the day we were due to fly out that you could standby on any earlier flights for no cost so we did that. We didn’t clear because all the elites kept trumping us at the gate.  But both ours & the earlier flights were delayed (though they never announced anything, which seems standard practice for Horizon) so that put a hamper in our evening a little. We got to the hotel super late but not horribly so.

The hotel in Spokane was good, it was a La Quinta, nothing over the top but cheap, clean, friendly & nice people. Can’t complain right? We had a fairly nice car and got to visit some friends of Heidi’s while out there so all in all a fun weekend. Coming home was fun because it was my first special livery flight. We got to return back to Seattle onboard Alaska’s Spirit of Disneyland Resort livery, aka Tinkerbell. Funnily enough Tinkerbell was the last plane I ever cleared to depart while I worked the ramp at SeaTac, so it has special meaning to me.

This weekend should really be spent at home (since it’s pouring rain outside right now) but we are off to Portland to celebrate our anniversary. Since I’m working next weekend I figured I could put a long weekend to good use. 

So much travel at this part of the year usually means that I will be grounded for the remainder of the year and it does look like that. But it means that I don’t have to deal with holiday flying (well at least outside of work) and the new year is going to be pretty different. Next year starts the real settling down process. But more on that another time.

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