Why so much Uber Hate?

I’m going to rant, so if you don’t want to read, see you later!

Just about every day late, in amongst all the usual “Get this credit card, get points” or “This airline is crap” blog posts or news articles, there seems to be a resounding trend around the world. People for some reason, Hate Uber. What is Uber you ask? Well if you have been living under a rock, they started off as a way to get a Black Car (or Limo for you Aussies out there) to you easily, without fuss, and no handling of cash or negotiating costs using a Smartphone App. They hit it off big time and have expanded worldwide and it’s no longer just Black Cars, it’s Taxi’s, SUVs or even the occasional helicopter or Porsche.

But it wasn’t just the convenience of the service that made it popular. They were cheaper than a black car in some places (hell UberX is DC was cheaper than a cab!) and the fact that you can give instant ratings to your driver via the app was a great form of feedback. Then add on the fact that they were expanding so fast that there always seemed to be a driver around when you wanted it (sometimes as many as 5 or 6 in the one spot last time I used it) and you can’t beat it. The cherry on top was that all the payments were handled via the app. You had a pre set credit card so no money changed hands at all. The minute the car trip was over, you had a receipt emailed to you. Amazing!

But Taxi drivers don’t like this new service, and it started off that some cities just went on and on about how it was cutting their jobs, or taking their money, yet I don’t see any mass lay offs of taxi drivers, or mass issues of not being able to find a cab, there will always be a taxi driver somewhere. However it has gotten to the point that taxi drivers are now protesting the service? What did Uber do, that you should have done a long time ago Taxi service?

I am sure taxi companies are still making money, otherwise how would they still exist. For someone like me who doesn’t often carry cash, and the likelihood of getting in a cab that accepts a card when you are not sure can take one is slim. Uber is great! I can go anywhere in the world, whip out my phone (pending i have data of course) and have a trip that i don’t have to worry about cash or currency or anything sounds pretty awesome to me.

I don’t really see the point to all the mass protesting world wide, can’t the two services just get along. Surely this is a good thing for everyone in the fact that those who may have walked or caught the bus or even drove, can now do something that gets money to other people, gets them in jobs (and word is the Uber drivers are paid pretty well). Really all I can say is that if you haven’t tried Uber yet, you should give them a try.

The Final Commutes

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I complain a lot in the morning or evenings. Generally this disdain & unhappiness is generally pushed in one direction, Community Transit. Who are they? They run the bus services from Everett to Bellevue & in my general area. They are heavily trafficked, but extremely lax at times. They also have to deal with the 405 which is the worst Highway known to man kind.

So this week is my final week of commuting southbound on the 405 and I am happy about it too. Saturday I start the moving process as I pack up & head south to my new home in Renton (will post more next week on the new place). I can’t wait to get rid of dealing with Community Transit, the 405 Southbound in the morning, the badly planned SR522 interchange and continuous road works, but most of all I am looking forward to a single bus commute.

No more hurry up & wait, no more standing around, hoping a bus will connect properly (they don’t), no more giant Park & ride hassles. I will be sad to see some of the eye candy dissappear (the Russian looking girl, Miss Hooker Heals, and the infamous blonde with the ring) but maybe the new bus will bring new things. I know it  bring me one thing, less stressful commutes!

Trip Report – To The Last Frontier: Anchorage to Seattle

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

Sunday 1st June 2014

I returned the truck to the airport, happy in that I was now going to remain dry for the rest of the afternoon and also happy in the knowledge that I had enjoyed myself immensly. After 2 days of spotting, my camera batteries needing charging, my arms needed a rest (that bigma is heavy!) and my body needed refueling…. badly.

From Anchorage

I headed from the Rental Car center over to the main terminal via the underground walkway. The walkway was pretty neat, they had aerial photos of the airport from the day it opened. Staggered every 5 years or so you could see the changes that were made over time. The airport has become so busy now that it definitely does hold the titles of “Crossroads of the North” and deserves it.

From Anchorage

After entering the small terminal, I headed up and to the left to the United check in area and dropped my bag off. Sadly no United Club here in Anchorage so my plans were to get through security and find somewhere to get some lunch. I had found out online that the airport had an “Observation Deck” above the main concourse, which had some Alaskan Native Art in there as well. I was more interested in the view than anything. With my bag dropped off and disposing of the unfinished portion of my water, off through security I went. Premium Security line was empty but as I got there up comes two ladies in Wheelchairs, shutting down my side of the check point. Joy. What it meant was that while they let everyone in the general queue go for boarding pass inspection, I had to wait. Even when they reopened it and called me forward. A lady from the general queue pushed her way in front of me. Whatever

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I made it through security easily and with my belongings in hand. I found a place that had a half decent sounding salad and headed up to the observation deck to get some last minute enjoyment while I waited for boarding. The time went by quickly and about 4pm I headed down towards the gate and just as I got there, the aircraft arrived. Love timing it like that! I headed up to the desk to try my luck at another Exit Row and with a smile and a nice kind ask, I had an exit row boarding pass.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I found somewhere to sit in the middle of the concourse, a shot distance from the gate as it seemed that every man and his dog (well no animals, but you know what I mean) were waiting at the gate. It was pretty packed but the seat map looked decidedly empty last time i checked. I rearranged a few things so that I did not have to get up to my camera bag in the middle of the flight (hate doing that, since it is really bulky and heavy). The seats where I was doing that were very unique. They felt more like pieces of art than actual seats, but it was a unique way of looking at something that is required for people to rest and wait.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As I was waiting for boarding it was time for the freighter change over as the current waive left their gates and were replaced by another set. I had packed my camera away, but had the windows not been covered in rain, I may have contemplated pulling it out again. Why not add a few more images to the count.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

The boarding area filled once they announced that boarding would begin shortly and the new United boarding area (with sign posted gate lines) certainly does make things easier. The gate area looks far less crammed and feels more controlled. The Gate lice still exist, however they are more handled and kept in line. Something for other airlines to consider maybe?

United Airlines – UA1129
Anchorage to Seattle Tacoma
1705-2130
Boeing 737-900ER (N68801)
Economy Plus – Seat 20A (Exit Row)

Boarding: 1640 (Gate B5)
Push Back: 1706
Take off Roll: 1716 (Runway 25R)
Top of Descent: 2049
Touch Down: 2114 (Runway 34L)
Shut Down: 2121 (Gate A10)

When the boarding commenced for Global Services and those who needed help, it was a while before Zone 1 was called and even then, the difference between Zone 1 & Zone 2 boarding was non existent. Everyone in that line just rushed the boarding door. I hung back in the knowledge that being in Zone 2, still gets me to my seat, still gets me overhead space for the camera bag and still gives me plenty of time to relax.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I took my seat in the first of the Exit Rows (I went up in the 2nd exit row) and tried to settle in as quick as possible. No one was sitting next to me for a while as boarding happened around me, but I wasn’t sure if that was going to remain. I saw that power was working this time, and as everyone boarded around me, I started plugging some stuff in. My camera batteries were running a bit low (for the P&S) and so I decided to give them some power in case I lost the last remaining battery while I was up in the air. Something That just would not do! I kept waiting and soon enough they announced that the doors were about to shut and could everyone take their seat. Not only did I have an empty middle seat, but an empty aisle seat as well. In fact the entire exit row apart from me was empty. SCORE!!!!!!

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

The crew warned everyone jammed down the back that they could not self upgrade to “Economy Plus” once the flight got to cruise altitude, they had to stay in their assigned seat. This got a few people unhappy but I didn’t care. All you have to do is ask and if they are open, generally you receive. The manual safety demo happened around me and all I know is that I was to busy answering a few last tweets before I had to switch off my phone. We pushed back and started taxiing for the runway. Things had changed since that morning and they were now using 15 for arrivals and 25R for some departures.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As we taxiied down towards the 25R threshold, we passed a lot of the smaller regional planes belonging to Pen Air & Era … I mean Ravn Air. Past all the small turbo props and then it was into the smaller local freight operators. This is where the interesting stuff lives. NAC and their 737-200s & DC-6s. Even a number of DC3s and one lone Convair. Alaska is always fun for this kind of thing. We turned onto the active and held in place for a minute or so. I could hear it in my head. United Eleven Twenty Nine, Runway Two Five Right, Winds 150 at 10 (at least thats what it was the last time I was listening in on the scanner a few hours ago), Cleared for Takeoff. The pilot would respond and then you could hear the engines spool up. Brakes still holding and then let the baby fly!!!

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Take off roll was spirited and before we had even passed the South Hangars of Lynden Aviation and the Alaska Air National Guard we were airborne and climbing. Wheels up, flaps up, we climbed out and away from the airport and turned towards Seattle. Not much to see out my side of the aircraft, but hey… I couldn’t complain though, I could have just moved to the other window and I would have it all. No one to blame but myself.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

My attention from that point, as we climbed up through the cloud base towards the blue sky, turned to getting my self situated in what was to become my little encampment. Out came my devices and I took over the power ports (both of them) to get my phone back on power to stay juiced and to change over the batteries as one of them had the top off it needed. I distributed all my gear as needed and settled in for a comfortable, spacious flight home.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

By the time we were a decent height, I pulled the laptop out to do some work on the trip reports and just generally sat back and relaxed for the flight. It took quite a while before they switched off the seat belt sign (not that anyone cared or paid any attention to it) and the pilot annouced a flight time of 2 hours 53 minutes home to Seattle.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Service commenced just after this and the crew were slow but methodical in getting the drinks out. Sadly I did not get more than a cup this time (how I got the whole can before I don’t know) but the smells coming back to us from the front of the plane were just not fair. At one point all I could smell was coffee and made a mental note to have one later to give me a bit of a pick me up before I got in the truck.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

While the flight cruised on, I read my book and decided it was time to finally get that coffee. I headed to the back of the plane to get the coffee & everyone looked so unhappy down there. All jammed in :( But hey, that could have been me, so no complaining, no making fun right? With coffee in hand I headed back to my seat and I had barely settled back in when they did a rubbish run through the plane. Knowing that they would collect all my stuff, I ended up downing the coffee fairly quickly (it wasn’t that hot at all) and figured that it would be good while it lasted. I “enjoyed” my coffee with a Protein bar that Heidi had made me pack (and it came in handy as a dinner replacement), although this one was far from tasty.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

We got a pre descent warning from the pilots somewhere over BC and as we started descent, we had just passed Vancouver off to the left side. I wasn’t sure if it was Vancouver to begin with, but it had to of been it. The city is fairly obvious from above and the man made island for the airport is really distinguishable. I kept an eye out the window on descent as we seemed awfully high passing Everett and that meant we were heading for a southern arrival, heading down towards Tacoma and turning north back towards SeaTac.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As we passed over downtown the sun was setting with beautiful red & orange tones and I spent a good amount of time trying to get the perfect photo. I think I did, but not quite sure. We turned as expected right over the Port of Tacoma and were vectored in for a 34L arrival. How do I know this? We were hugging the coastline from Tacoma, up over Federal Way & Des Moines. So much that we flew almost over Heidi’s parents place and over Burien where she lives at the moment.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Touching down about 15 minutes early we had a long taxi from the top of 34L and we held for the 34R runway to clear. What passes me by out the window? An Alaska 737 with Split Scimitar Winglets. Damn! Not fast enough… that and the light was fading. Yep, that’s my excuse, light wasn’t great.

From Anchorage

We pulled into the gate 9 minutes early and since I had no one else next to me (or even at the end of the row) I was quickly up and moving. Though we had to wait to get lot off, I was off the aircraft pretty quickly and by the time I had made the long trek from A10 to the baggage claim, the baggage carousel had just started moving. Thinking that I was going to get a repeat of Friday night, I was shocked to see my bag first on the belt! That has not happened in a long long time. Since my bag was first on the belt and I did not even break stride to grab it and turn around headed for the car park. I was out of the terminal in minutes rather than the usual 20-30 minutes it takes.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I was waiting for a shuttle longer than I had to wait for my bag, but pretty soon I was at Wallypark, paying off my bill and then jumping in the truck to drive home. I was looking forward to some sleeeeep!

Trip Report – To The Last Frontier: Anchorage

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

I was met at the terminal by the shuttle from the Holiday Inn Express Anchorage and the person working the desk had asked my name when picking me up. The moment I stepped into the lobby off the shuttle, he greeted me by name and had me checked in already to go. I just had to sign a couple of pieces of paper and he pointed me in the right direction towards my room. Within 10 minutes of stepping in the door, I was asleep.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Saturday 31st May 2014

I awoke this morning after only 4 hours sleep, not much but it would have to do. I looked out the window and all I saw was rain :( So I gave up on the idea of running to the airport and instead, went to the gym to wake myself up. After a morning workout that was fairly intense compared to my usual one (maybe I was just feeling great, I don’t know why it was so quick to complete today), I got myself ready quickly as they schedule the shuttles in the morning and I was about 15 minutes off a departure. After that it was another hour. So I rushed back to get changed and showered and made it in time, to be the only person on the shuttle.

From Anchorage

I had originally intended on running to the airport, and when my 5k run was over just picking up the rental truck to get back. But since it was raining, I was just shuttling back to the airport to the rental car facility. The rental car facility was fairly deserted but so was the Enterprise counter. I waited a good 5 minutes before someone decided to show up. But once they did, I was off upstairs to the booth to get my truck. When I got up to the booth she gave me a choice of either a Dodge Ram or a Ford F150. Since I drive a Ram at home, I went with the F150. At least then I can see what makes this truck so popular.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Pretty soon I was headed back to the airport to get myself sorted for the day. Some breakfast, a quick plan of where to stop to get some water and then off to get some spotting done. Free breakfast is never all that great when you don’t eat that much (like I try to) but when it is a Holiday Inn Express, the selection’s are never over the top. Something that I appreciate, makes me feel like I am not wasting it. The main thing it had was coffee, I wanted coffee, I was dreaming of coffee, I would of injected it into my veins if I had the choice. The brew was passable, but it hit the spot and with an extra cup in hand, it was off for a day of spotting.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Spotting is pretty much what I did all day. It may have been raining (fairly lightly at that point) and the wind blowing a good 15-20 knots, but hey, I am here to get photos and the planes were lining up for me. One after the other, they just kept on coming. As a bank of freighters started to leave, another set would come in. All of them heavies, all of them so so good looking. I won’t got into too much depth about the spotting, but suffice it to say, I had a REALLY good haul over the weekend.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I took a break in the morning to thaw out at the Alaska Aviation Museum and it was ok. Nothing over the top but worth the $10 donation for a true avgeek cause. I learnt a little about the history of Airlines in Alaska and there was number that I had ever even heard of. Interesting pieces that’s for sure. I also took a break in the afternoon to head downtown for some souvenir hunting. I needed to get a postcard (which I managed to forget to write) and a shot glass for the collection, and see if I could find something special for the lady. I didn’t want to get something over the top (we have rules against that) and I managed to find something that would make her giggle at least.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

The first day ended with dinner at a place that was high on the Urbanspoon and Wikitravel suggestions, and a very tasty burger it was. I never would of thought to combine BBQ sauce, Jalapeno Cheese, Onion Strings and Bacon on a burger. I might in the future though! The coleslaw that it came with was tasty as well. The dried cranberries in it, gave an interesting texture, might have to try that sometime myself.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I passed out in front of the TV at about 9pm (it was still light outside as though it was noon), watching Batman with a piece of pie and some ice cream. Can’t beat it.

From Anchorage

Sunday 1st June

This time the weather held out and I sure as hell was going to go for my run. Not only would it add to my list but, I was going to enjoy running around an airport (Lake Hood is classed as a separate airport to Anchorage International. What I forgot was that it was 5k run to get me to the airport, I still had to get back. All up…. just under 8kms. Woops!

I grabbed breakfast again and checked out. I was heading back to the airport for another day of spotting, before my flight home. Today’s plan was all weather dependent and there was forecast of rain. At least yesterday the rain abated and left me dry for the afternoon. Today I was racing the rain in the hopes that it would come after I dropped the truck off Speaking of which, I probably didn’t need the truck this weekend. I could have had a normal car thanks to the winds situation that was happening this weekend. But there was no way to tell. The F150 was a good choice. Not because I liked it, but because I now know that I am glad I never bought one. It just never gave me the impression that I was going to enjoy it. The indicators were one of the reasons I didn’t buy it in the first place. That decision was totally reasonable, as they drove me nuts the whole weekend.

From Anchorage

The rain hit about half way through my morning and went from light to moderate but I toughed it out in the name of spotting and got what I needed to get. There was plenty to watch come in and out still, but it was lighter than the day before. Not many in the way of special liveries at all.

From Anchorage

By around 230pm I was starting to get cold and tired of standing in the rain, so headed on over to the airport to drop off the truck and start heading home.

Operation Overlord – Lest We Forget

Today marks the day of the 70th Anniversary of the Operation Overlord, better known as “D-Day”, landings. When British, American and Canadian troops took their first steps on French Soil on June 6th 1944, a lot of them gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I have stood on those beaches, I have stood on the drop zones when I visited Normandy in 2011. Pictures like the below put a lot of things in perspective and all I can say is that those men sacrificed a lot so that we could have the lives we live today. I am eternally grateful.

From RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1
From RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1
From RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1
From RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1
From RTW in 66 Days – Europe 1

Trip Report – To the Last Frontier: Seattle to Anchorage

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

Friday 30th May 2014

I left work on time, but thanks to traffic it was slow going on the 405 (nothing new there really) but it wasn’t to bad getting to the airport. I parked the truck at Wallypark, my usual spot, and instead of going straight to the Terminal, I met up with Heidi for dinner. We stuck close by and went to the new L&L Hawaiian BBQ for dinner and although it is not at all that classy, it sure was tasty. Just as Heidi arrived I got the first bit of bad news for the evening.

An email and a Tripit push notification, both saying that unwanted note…… Delayed. That wouldn’t have been too bad had I dropped my bag off first then gone to meet up with Heidi. Sadly it still meant I had to be there before the usual cut off time, just in case. After a quick trip to the local Safeway to pick up some protein bars for the upcoming weekend (I had planned to stash a couple in my camera bag so that I didn’t have to leave the spotting areas when it came time for food), Heidi dropped me off on the Departures deck and after a kiss goodbye (definitely a new thing for me) I was on my way to check in.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Check in for United was deserted, to be honest the entire South End of the terminal felt like a ghost town. However the few people who were checking in, just had to be in the queue that I was going to be using. So rather than wait in line for the Premier Access counters, I just used a normal counter. I tried to get a free Econ Plus row, but no deal. The boarding pass didn’t even show the delay so that was really disappointing. I got a printed boarding pass purely for the collection and after my bag was sent on its way (I didn’t notice if a priority tag was added to my bag or not) I snapped a few pictures and headed towards the security check point as instructed. Thankfully I had been told that the South Checkpoint was closed and that everyone had to pass through the Central point.

The good news was that the checkpoint was empty and I breezed through the ID check, then I was 2nd in line for the scanner and I was through within minutes. I seem to get pulled up as though there is something on my body (same spot, each and every time, I swear that there is a metal implement or something inside my stomach?) and I got a light pat down in the usual spot. Nothing too huge, and I had contemplated opting out for shits and giggles but decided against it. Once through to the other side I collected my gear and stopped by the Food Court windows for a squiz at the ramp. Nothing but normal out there today so to the United Club we go! A long long walk down to the High A gates (the club is opposite A9) and with my gate at A8 it meant for convenience later on.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Checking into the club was painless and I even managed to snag that Exit Row, thanks to a smile and asking nicely. Originally the “dragon” (not that she was one, since she was nicer than nice) thought I meant a First Upgrade, but I just wanted a bit of extra space, no First Class seat and meal required. It was sure going to be tough to leave the club without inhaling what goodies were there. But I got handed my Exit Row Window (is there a better seat than that in Economy?) Boarding pass and I did a lap of the lounge to find the best spot to sit. Plonking my butt in an empty area, I grabbed some snacks (hello Yogurt Raisins, I see you have returned to provide me with a challenge of can I stop myself from eating all of you) and by snacks i mean cookies (small ones though) and some coffee and got settled.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

I caught up on my emails, charged my phone a little and generally goofed off for like the next hour and even managed to get myself sorted. The flight was due to touch down around 915pm and we were meant to depart at 10pm. Though I doubted this from the moment I received the first delay notification. Still you expect to do the right thing and headed out of the lounge at my usual early time to find a spot by the windows for when the plane arrives. I wanted that nice empty clean plane shot either just as it pulls up or a few moments after. Makes getting the registration all that easier.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

20 minutes later (by that time 5 minutes after the plane was scheduled to arrive) it still hadn’t shown up but low and behold, people are moving about on the ramp and that meant an incoming aircraft. As the flight rolled into the gate, I got my shots and then checked the registration against the lists and turns out it was a barely year old 737-900ER! So not only was I getting a new BSI fitted aircraft, but being an ER, it meant a first on type! So had this been a new airline I could have snagged a trifecta. Guess the fact I was flying to a new Airport on a new type would have to suffice.

From Anchorage

The plane disgorged all the people and that was a good thing as the sooner they got off, the sooner we could get on. But we were not getting out on time. I got a further delay announcement, just 10 more minutes. I can deal with that, but at this rate we are approaching a 1am touch down and that would mean a painful morning, especially if I want to be up at Sparrows Fart for plane spotting. Since I had the rego and photos, I headed over towards the gate area, where sadly no seats were vacant but I could wait standing up. Wait is something I did, we waited quite some time. About 15 minutes into my wait (about 5 minutes after the crew headed on) I was playing around in the United App when it just stopped working….o dear! United’s computers had crashed and this was confirmed moments later when it was announced we would have to manually board.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

United Airlines – UA1603
Seattle Tacoma to Anchorage
2110-2347
Boeing 737-900ER (N38473)
Economy Plus – Seat 21A (Exit Row)

Boarding: 2155 (Gate A8)
Push Back: 2303
Take off Roll: 2311 (Runway 34R)
Top of Descent: 0052
Touch Down: 0115 (Runway 15)
Shut Down: 0121 (Gate B6)

When boarding was called we were fast approaching an hours delay, just as I was boarding I got another flight delay notice from Tripit and I just knew that was begging for hope that it would be accurate, but it wasn’t to be. I boarded at the appropriate time with the appropriate zone (Zone 2) and I walked onboard, happy to see the “United WiFi” sticker at the door. I was going to give the WiFi a good test and really see how it went. I got my stuff sorted and had a chuckle at the Fact the rows went 13,14,15,20,21. That confused the hell out of me but according to the FA working my area, it has to be that way so that all Exit Rows have a common number. Why I have no idea, it makes NO sense, but hey…. This is America.

From Anchorage
From Anchorage

As everyone boarded, time stretched longer and longer. The boarding process was done and then we were told we were waiting… A LONG time. We had to wait for a Houston flight to land that was late Being that we were already late, hey why not delay us further. The groans onboard were lengthy and loud, it was obvious that people were not happy about the situation. I just sucked it up and sat back, reading my book and waiting. Wait we did!

From Anchorage
From Anchorage
From Anchorage

Almost 2 hours late by this stage we finally had doors shut and a push back (albeit slow) from the terminal. It was a quick taxi from the A gates out to the Runway and we had no one in front of us, so with a short wait (seconds) we were heading into the skies. Climb out was quick and it was surprisingly comfortable even after being stuck in the seat for an hour. I wanted to get up to height as soon as possible so that I could get connected to the WiFi. I had been sent an email the day prior to let me know that I would have WiFi on this flight. Great!! As soon as I heard the dings to signify we had past 10,000ft I pulled the laptop out and got started.

From Anchorage

I started off by connecting to the WiFi with my phone to see how easily it connected and it was a breeze. Then I switched over to the laptop, took out my wallet and paid for it. I was hoping to get some travel booked while on the flight, but first things first, speed test. I ran a few speed tests, did some screen captures for a review I was going to have to write and then once that was done “Out of Coverage” ummmmmm say what Now? I just spent $4 on WiFi ($2 per hour is pretty good compared to GoGo for a short flight) and it said I had “3 hours of United WiFi” when really I had 15 minutes? I also didn’t have a working power plug at the seat so couldn’t charge my phone (and it was fairly low on power).

By this time I had been given my drink (full can!) on the service and so with that done and not possible to do work (I had been looking through the FAQs and stuff while doing my prep for the review to find that you can request a refund and I had screen captured that stuff before I lost coverage), guess it was time to relax. So I read for a while, and when I couldn’t read any longer, I shut my eyes and tried to relax.

Next thing I know we are about an hour away from Anchorage, shut my eyes again and I am looking out the window on the other side of the plane and I can see sunlight. I check my watch and its after 130am Seattle time… WTF! I fixed up my watch and knew that we would be descending fairly soon so Just sat back and enjoyed the ride with my eyes shut as much as possible. I was tired, I wanted a drink, I just wanted sleep. I sucked up the crappiness of it all and just switched my brain off.

We hit descent and I packed up my stuff, I was hoping to escape the plane quickly and get to the bag claim as quickly as possible. We circled over and around Anchorage through some clouds and lots of lumps. To be honest I had no idea where I was but the lights down below were on and I could see stuff so I can’t complain really. As we approached the airport I was trying hard to see what was on the ramp and I was not disappointed as we came into land. It was all freight, everywhere. Fed Ex, UPS, Cathay, Korean, China Airlines. All the stuff I came here to see.

It was a slow roll out to the end of Runway 15 and then we circled around to the pier that was not used by Alaska Airlines. We pulled in next to a US Airways flight and Frontier was in there somewhere as well. I was off the flight fairly quickly and without to much stress either. The walk from the gate to the baggage claim was fairly long but easy and then I had to wait. Wait a lot. That priority tag for my bag that I wasn’t sure if it got on my bag. Well it did, but it didn’t do anything at all. My bag was one of the last ones off the plane and by the time I had my bag I was just cranky. By then it was almost 2am Alaska time and I was just tired.

From Anchorage

Bag in hand I headed out to the shuttle stand to get the already ordered shuttle to my hotel, The Holiday Inn Express Anchorage. Barely a mile and a half away from the hotel. But it was close enough that at 2am.. I was head down on a pillow.

Trip Report – To the Last Frontier: Introduction

It’s currently the end of May. So far this year my mileage balanace for total travelled miles is 0. That’s right, a big giant Donut. I need to fly! I must get up in the air, now, anywhere.. please just let me fly. When I saw a fare sale on a weekend telling me that fares to Alaska were $100 each way… well.. guess where I am going!! Since I had considered going to Alaska at the end of last year during my “$100 Challenge” and instead went to Kansas, might as well tick another state off my list right?

So after finding a decent weekend that would work with the fares (sadly on United so that is going to be interesting, since I have’t flown them intentionally in a while) and work as well, I locked it in. The hotel actually cost more than the flights in this situation. Hotel prices in Anchorage just are not cheap (well it is cruise ship season I guess) but I managed to find a decent rate at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport. Considering I intend on spending most of my time taking photos around the airport I might as well stay close by right? Saves having to go that far after getting off a flight at like 1am in the morning.

The hardest part of the trip planning was arranging a car. Normally I would just book the usual National car rental in a mid size, pick up off the Executive line and all would be good. But a few friends had suggested previously that a Truck is needed for spotting. Since I wouldn’t have access to a step ladder and with fairly large fence lines in some area, I needed to get an MFAP. What’s an MFAP? A Mobile Fence Avoidance Platform… aka a Truck. Normally I would avoid driving a truck when renting. I drive one at home, why do I need another one? Well since I need it, I might as well get it. But for some reason the only company that had availability for one was Enterprise. I even had the National Car Rental Social Media team check for me. Nada. O well :(

So I booked the truck rental, the hotel and the flights and with everything fast approaching (tonight) I can finally get back up in the Air!! A Map right about now would look fairly boring and since it is just up and back on United, that is fairly boring. But the plane spotting will be good (if I am lucky I will get a lot of freighter traffic and HOPEFULLY a Everts Commando), the weather might hold out, but no matter what. I am up for whatever it brings.

Bring on the Travel!!!!!

Packing

Normally if I have a post about packing, it would generally be about an upcoming trip (And there is one of those at the end of this week) but this time, the packing refers more to the household kind. My lease is up at my current apartment on the 22nd of June. That weekend would mean that it is time for me to either stay in the current apartment or move somewhere else. Considering at the moment I enjoy my location due to it’s closeness to Paine Field. On a good day I am maybe 10-12 minutes drive away from the field so I can catch those good Boeing departures. But lately, weekend test flights have been less and less prevalent and with all the good stuff mainly flying over the week when I am at work, well, there isn’t much of a point of being so close to the field. Sadly my current location though convenient for weekends, is not at all great for commuting to work. I need to use 2 buses to get to and from work and since I moved in, the times have just become shockingly bad. I am now constantly getting into work way to early and due to bus times, I can’t stay all that late as my buses end late and require either a 2.5km walk or a solid 25 minute wait to connect to another bus. The other thing is that the apartment complex is undergoing refurbishments, however my apartment has not yet had that done, with a rent increase again (this time almost $200!) and no date as to when the apartment would be refurbished (which probably wouldn’t happen knowing them), that is not a good thing.

So I looked about for somewhere else to live. I wanted to also bring myself closer to Heidi as well, to avoid the 45 minute drives in each direction. That would mean that I can put a bit of that extra $$ that I am spending in fuel each week (the truck isn’t exactly frugal with the fuel I put into it) towards somewhere nicer, somewhere that may cost a bit extra. Well, after looking around, it is time for everyone to know that I am moving… the date is set, the location found.

Two years ago when I moved over here to the USA I checked out some new apartments in the Renton Highlands at a complex called “Harrington Square”. Funny thing is two years later, I went back to check it out. The place had gotten better and in the end I signed a lease for a 1 Bedroom. What sealed the deal? Well there is a Bus stop at the door that goes directly to work (and actually stops just across the street), it is in a fairly decent location (surrounds wise) and it has an amazing Gym. I couldn’t turn it down.. I went for it straight away!

So on the 14th of this month (yep there is a 1 week overlap) I pack up the truck and head south to Renton to a new apartment, a new location and another step in this journey over here. I will be much closer to Heidi (timed it last night to around 10-12 minutes) and the trip to work should be easier as well (though about the same time frame as the bus goes all over the shop, but still 1 bus is better than two). The packing has begun as I started taking stuff down off the walls today. I don’t have all that much stuff, but still the packing will be a new experience. At least I have a whole heap of favors to call in for moving day. Since the truck has been utilised many times to help others, it is time to call in those favors. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

Boring Life

Well I have been slacking off as of late but in reality there isn’t that much exciting news that I want to release just yet (there will be in the next week or so once stuff get’s worked out). At the moment life just ticks on forward and I figured I should at least update something so that you know I am alive, safe & well.

Paine Field Aviation Day was last weekend and I got myself roasted (though I was kind of sad that they did not have a run this year). I have about 2000 photos to work through and I need to get them out of the way as soon as possible as well, with my impending trip to Alaska (trip report coming, since I haven’t done one all year!) that is only going to add more to the queue.

Life moves on day by day, but at the moment, nothing to see here…