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.

Well consider this your Monday morning Avgeek hit to get you on your way to work. Here are some pictures from the Final flight of the EA-6B Prowler as it left Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. First up some of the static displays of aircraft based at NASWI.

From Seattle Spotting 2015

P-3C Orion

From Seattle Spotting 2015

C-40A Clipper

From Seattle Spotting 2015

EP-3 Orion

From Seattle Spotting 2015

EA-18G Growler

And now some of the flying display.

From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015

MH-60S Seahawk SAR Demo

From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015

EA-6B Prowler & EA-18G Growler Fly Past

From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015
From Seattle Spotting 2015

The Prowler came back to refuel and then went on its way, never to return.

Well my training for my new job is almost complete and I must say it has been challenging. I have had to learn a whole new GDS and system to go with it and that is always a challenge. Having to translate one system to the other in my head on the fly is rough, but I am getting the hang of it. It helps that they have a great tool that does a lot of the complicated command work for you, but you still need to understand things on the base level.

But working from home is now over, and I start going back and forth to work now every day. On a good and bad side there is no longer any more bus rides (apart from a car park shuttle) but that means that I won’t be reading as much. On the good side, I now don’t have to stand around waiting for buses (again apart from the car park shuttle) and that means I can get places easier, although I now have to contend with traffic.

All in all life is good right now, I am hoping to make it to vegas tonight (we are flying Stand By) and have a great weekend away with my wife as she deserves a break right now. She just found out last night she passed her Certification Exams (after spending weeks hiding in the closet trying to work and having semi frequent breakdowns, even though I told her it would be fine) and she deserves a good bit of relaxation by the pool in vegas.

Time to get back in the air again right?

Today is Friday the 12th of June, 2015. As I head off to work and deal with stuff all day, Heidi will be sleeping in and getting ready for a big day. Today is the day that Heidi graduates from SPU with a Masters in Arts (Teaching) degree. She has worked tirelessly over the last 2 years to finish this. Heidi and I have been together almost 18 months now so I have known her through almost her entire time at SPU doing her masters.

This is a special day for her and I am sad that I will miss it. She will get to wear her cap and gown and soak in the love that will be thrown her way. I really wish I could be there but i can’t :( However my thoughts and love will be with her as she walks across that stage to receive her masters, something she has worked hard to achieve. The last 4 or 5 months have been especially hard for both of us. I have been through major changes in my life on the work side, and Heidi has been by my side the whole way. However Heidi has had it rough herself. For a little while she was the only bread winner in the family and she was also doing her Masters and doing her Student teaching, All at the same time. Working essentially three jobs all back to back has taken its toll on her. She has been a real trooper doing it all and I have done everything I can to make her life easier. But the day is all about her!

Heidi, as you walk across that stage today, I want you to think about just how proud everyone is of you, how much we all love and support you and most of all. Feel proud of what YOU have done. You have done all the hard work, you deserve that praise, that love, that admiration.

I <3 you and you need to know you are the smartest person in our family 😀

So Monday was a public holiday for Memorial Day. Heidi had the day off (since it was Monday, and school was out), so we decided to head out on the road. We also had another Free Day with National and decided that it was worth it to use that free day again to grab a car. I know in the past we have said why we do this (a few reasons, 1 its fun, 2 it doesn’t add milage to either of our cars, 3 it is free!) but this time was a little different.

Rather than grab a car for just the two of us, we ended up taking a couple of friends with us, so we were targeting a larger car this time, something way more comfortable for 4 people (the one time we don’t need a car for the two of us, the Executive Line has a Mustang on it). Something like this:

From Seattle Life 2015

I have to say that I am not that big a fan of this car. It was fully loaded with all the good things (including a working Sirius XM) but yet I still wasn’t happy. There was power everywhere inside the SUV but again, still not happy. The one thing that killed it for me was the same issue I had with the F150 I rented in Anchorage last year, The indicators. They self center as soon as you begin indicating and you have to cancel them out by indicating the opposite direction, which sometimes doesn’t actually stop it. *sigh*

But other than my not so happiness with the vechile, it was a good day out. Spent some time out a couple of new places for me. Slowly but surely I am getting to experience the Olympic National Park. It was a good time, even though the weather wasn’t the best. I had fun (and so did my friends, thanks guys!) and ended up with some lovely photos like this:

From Seattle Life 2015
From Seattle Life 2015
From Seattle Life 2015
From Seattle Life 2015

So apparently I never got around to posting some of my photos from Frankfurt Airport, so well for your long weekend admiration….

From Frankfurt Spotting

Lufthansa’s Airbus A321

From Frankfurt Spotting

Lufthansa’s Airbus A320 (with Sharklets)

From Frankfurt Spotting

Bringing up the Trifecta… a Lufthansa Airbus A319

From Frankfurt Spotting

Rounding out the whole Lufthansa Short Haul fleet, Boeing 737-500

From Frankfurt Spotting

British Airways Airbus A319 (heading to Heathrow)

From Frankfurt Spotting

JAL Boeing 777-300ER

From Frankfurt Spotting

Sun Express Boeing 737-800

From Frankfurt Spotting

Swiss Avro RJ-85

From Frankfurt Spotting

Aegean Airlines – Airbus A321

From Frankfurt Spotting

KLM Embraer E-190

From Frankfurt Spotting

Condor Boeing 757-300

From Frankfurt Spotting

LAN Boeing 787-8

From Frankfurt Spotting

Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER (Skyteam Livery)

For More goodies, check out the full album.

Frankfurt Spotting

So tomorrow is a new beginning for me. I start my new job tomorrow, one that I am truly truly excited about. I won’t say much about who it is I am working for or what I will be doing, but rest assured this is right up my ally. I will be returning to the travel industry, something I have been wanting to do since I left my last job. But this will be a job that is not entirely travel, it will be something I have never done before.

One thing I have realized since I left my last job was that small companies are just not for me. Sure I don’t mind working with small teams etc, but having a background coming from a company where there is support in every direction, there is policies and procedures in place, this makes me want to return to that. Mainly because I know that there is always something there. That won’t be a problem with this new job as although I am sure I will be working with a small team, it will be for a multinational company, one that I am sure most of you have heard of. The great thing about this position and the team I will be working with is that this is going to be the first. It is going to be the first in many ways. Although there will be policies and procedures coming from the main division of the company, I am sure we will be developing a lot of it from scratch. Something I can’t wait to do. I get to mix in my passion, my skills and my knowledge all into one thing.

So while I get myself ready for 3 days of work in Bellevue, the rest of the next coming 6 weeks will be working from home. While I worked from home basically for a little bit, this will be every day of the week. So it shall be interesting. I am looking forward to this new portion of my life and can’t wait to get started once all the training is done. But lets revisit this in a month or so to find out how I like working at home. Guess it is time to polish my shoes?

Seattle to Frankfurt
Frankfurt Fun Times
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Frankfurt to Newark
Newark to Seattle

I stepped off that plane in Newark with a sad face, knowing that the fun was over. I was about to possibly go through hell. At the end of the jet bridge was a Lufthansa staff member waiting for all F guests. She apologized that she couldn’t help us expedite US immigration (no one ever can) but said she would have our bags waiting for us when we get through . I let her know that I might be a while, as I knew my process through immigration would require immediate Secondary processing. She said that she would wait for me. Now that is service!

Immigration turned out to be a non event barely a question asked and barely an extra 5 minutes added, all of which was spent me sitting on a chair pre thinking of answers to questions that might happen. I even had a very happy quick joke with one of the CBP agents about baking on my way towards baggage claim. That experience turned out to be way better than expected. My flight was late arriving (only about 15 minutes, nothing horrible) and I had a 3 hour connection. Through all of it I expected immigration to take around an hour, thankfully with secondary and waiting originally, and waiting in line for customs (and declaring a bag full of candy) took around 45 minutes. I had a good 2 hours till departure, plenty of time to connect right? WRONG! This is Newark!

I wanted a United boarding pass on United cardstock (what… stop judging me already!) and so I made a quick pit stop at airline desks after dropping my bag off at Connections. They issued me one with no problem at all and then it was off to terminal C. The airline desk staff pointed me in the right direction and that is the way I went. Sadly I don’t think they were aware that it was all broken, and that is not a good thing. Although the terminals are quite close at Newark (although not SeaTac close) they run a train (on the landside) between them. Sadly this train was broken somewhere and there was a mass amount of people waiting. No announcements nothing at all. It was bedlam. What they didn’t tell you was that yes you could walk between terminals. I waited a good 25 minutes before I knew that was even possible. At that point, it was time to haul ass, and that is what I did. I moved as quickly and as efficiently as possible between the two terminals and I was sweating (it was almost 90 out).

I made it to the C terminal with expected waits at security of “less than 10 minutes”. I had to quickly trash my water bottle and grab out my boarding pass (as I had stashed while i waited for the Air Train) and while I was doing that I thought I had lost part of my stuff. By the time I cleared security I actually found it and about 15 minutes after entering the security line, I was on the other side. This gave me just over 25 minutes till the apparent boarding time of my flight to get to the far side of the terminal. A LONG way off. I hauled butt to the United Club hoping I could jump into a shower room and clean up a bit, sadly no chance as it was a 15-20 minute wait for a shower and I had less than that till boarding. I resounded to smell and look like crap.

I grabbed a banana (for sustenance) and hot footed it to the gate area to get there before boarding started. By the time I got up there, the gate had no seats at all (literally there was no seats at this gate and the gate area adjacent was full (either from the flight from that gate or mine). I tried to see if the boarding time was realistic (in the hopes that I could maybe find somewhere to sit close enough) but as usual, this is United and it comes with mandatory surliness. I found a table close by to drop my stuff and kind of get myself sorted so that I could quickly email Heidi to let her know all was ok (since I had not done that yet). When it got close to boarding time, I went and joined the gate lice who were already clamoring for positions in the wrong boarding areas. What is it with American’s doing that! The only thing is we just waited and waited and waited some more. I wasn’t surprised at this, like I said this is United.

United Airlines – UA1160
Newark to Seattle Tacoma (EWR-SEA)
Boeing 737-900ER (N64809)
First Class – Seat 2F

Boarding: 1835 (Gate 131)
Push Back: 1913
Take off Roll: 1928 (Runway 22R)
Top of Descent: 2147
Touch Down: 2208 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down: 2217 (Gate A11)

Boarding was called almost 20 minutes later than the time noted and it was blamed on “cleaning the aircraft” yet by that time, the plane had been on the ground for quite some time. Me thinks that someone was telling porky pies! They called every conceivable kind of person before allowing First Class to board. By now I was just wanting to sit down and relax, maybe put my feet up a little. When they got to Zone 1 for boarding, I was happy to jump onboard.

I got myself sorted in my seat and didn’t spend a whole lot of time taking too many photos. This is United remember so it is not all THAT special. The flight boarded and the seat next to me remained empty, right up until the point they paged someone for a “new seat assignment”. Yep F was going out full tonight… sadly. Having a spare seat next to me would have been nice as I could have spread out a little more.

The pushback was delayed due to “the printer in the cockpit not working” (or at least that is the reason given by the flight deck) so we missed our push window and had to wait, I enjoyed watching the ground crew working seeing the slight differences that happens between airlines. When wef did push, we taxied out fairly quickly all the way out to the runway adjacent to the one we landed on earlier.

After only having to wait for 1 or 2 other planes, we lept into the air and settled in for a fight to the west coast. I wanted to try and finish my book for the first part of the flight and I accomplished that quite a bit, until my new seatmate wanted to chat. It wasn’t all bad (found out he used to live in the same suburb of sydney that my grandparents did) and his talking kept me awake and entertained for a while.

I had not flown Transcon UA F ever before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and when the starter salad came out I thought to myself “where is the salmon”. Woops! Didn’t expect a course by course meal. But the good thing with that was the fact that they had ICE CREAM!! I ate away while chatting and once the meal was complete (and ice cream bowl licked) I switched over to working on the trip report some more while trying not to fall asleep.

Thankfully the WiFi was working as I had to buy a couple of bucks worth to organise my ride home since we were getting in early apparently. Way to schedule pad united. When the internet ran out (I spent most of my WiFi time goofing off) I went back to the trip report and also tried hard to keep my eyes open. They were just so heavy and tired and once I had caught up on the trip report, well my eyes just kept on shutting.

I didn’t sleep, but I know I zoned out to relaxation mode and soon enough we were on descent to Seattle. I couldn’t see squat outside since it was dark and it looked like the weather had rolled in. Add in the fact that my eyes were so heavy and tired and I just didn’t care. I thought we were approaching from the South but when we touched down on the right runway I didn’t see anything out there on my side, turns out we had come in from the North. Soooo observant there Malcolm.

We touched down and taxied over to the A Gates where we would pull into A11 and end our trip for the night. I was hoping that the priority bag tags would have me out quickly (in the past it has been a hit or a miss) and I moved my way over to the baggage claim. Since we were meant to get in early (But apparently landed on time instead) I had reached out to a friend to pick me up since Heidi was working (and actually finished late) and as soon as I had my bag, he came down to grab me. Homeward bound to Heidi & my bed only after being awake 27 hours, way to end a trip!