Travel never ceases to be full of surprises.

I am siting in the Admiral’s Club at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Now this was not the original plan. I was booked on United out of Seattle at 8.00 am this morning, changing planes in Denver, continuing on to Cedar Rapids. The first flight had a mechanical, first one hour, then 2 hours – the plane was still in the hanger, that usually means a more serious issue. My connection was in jepardy so I called reservations for United. BTW you usually do better phoning instead of standing in the customer service line.

They changed me to American, yeah. American is a partner with Alaska so now I am getting Alaska miles. And thanks to nice relations with American and Alaska I can use the Admiral’s Club, so a glass of wine and cheese as I wait for the next flight. Sometimes things just work out for the best.

The view today from 30,000 feet.

IMG_0822It was raining when we left Seattle, this winter it seems as if it has done little else but rain, but up here above the clouds the sun shines, as it always does. The temptation is to wax philosophically using the clouds and the sun as metaphors encouraging perseverance and hope. But today I am just grateful for so many things that this amazing view is just one more blessing in my blessed life.

This last weekend I was in my happy place, doing things with Tricia. Friday and Saturday were consumed with carpentry and basement restoration/remodeling. Yet, as is our style, we ended each day with food, wine and conversation. Friday night we watched “Youth”, a Michael Cain movie about not confusing age with growing old — my sore back presented a convincing contrary point of view. Saturday we re-re-watched a few episodes of the BBC’s “As Time Goes By”.

Sunday we saw friends at church, went to a couple of open houses, then grilled an eye-of-round, crisp potatoes, and a salad with blue cheese and walnuts; a perfect ending to a far too short weekend.

Just now I am at 30,000 feet, sipping red wine while eating cheese and fruit. I have friends who don’t understand how I can actually like to fly, but I do. Right now I don’t have to be doing anything except sit, sip, and write — life is good.

There is so much more I am thankful for. That God has provided the funds to remodel and repair, Tricia is an amazing budgeter, but it seems the money has stretched.

I am thankful we get a road trip to Oregon this week, I am looking forward to spending Easter with Alexis, Joe, Aaron, Kris, Macey, Dad, and Jean — at Alexis’s house.

This world, this country, is crazy. I do fight the sucking sound of being drawn into despair as presidential politics has elevated a name calling, xenophobic, sexist, candidate. But I refuse to let that happen.

The sun is shining, I am happy, God is in control. Thank you for another day, friends, family, food, and wine. I am blessed.

Eating and enjoying at 30,000 feet

IMG 0263Comedians love to poke fun at airplane food. Yet at times it is a joy. Last Saturday evening on a flight from Orange County to Seattle I had a memorable meal. Noise blocking headphones created a quiet oasis from the roar of the engines, some good Celtic music set the mood, the darkened cabin added to the relaxing ambience.

They served beef Wellington and it was quite good. The crust was not doughy or chewy, rather amazing considering that it had to be cooked, held, transported, and re-heated before it was on my tray. I had a decent Cabernet to go with it.

The often overlooked reward for flying is time to yourself. I spent two hours listening to music, enjoying food and wine, topped off by a wee dram of Glenfedich.  In this busy world that is a real treat.

As I write this I am on a Delta flight to North Dakota, seat 29D. I had a Boar’s Head roast beef sandwich with horseradish sauce, along with a Heineken. It was not beef Wellington in first class, but I have had worse food. And of course the space is a lot more minimalist. Yet why complain?

Some tips for making flying more enjoyable:

  1. Get to the airport early, rushing starts the whole event off on the wrong foot.
  2. Headphones – get the best noise blocking or canceling set you can afford. Bose are nice, I have Shure, and Sony makes some that are under $100. The quiet reduces the stress.
  3. Either stop at a good take-away in the airport or buy the food on the plane, go ahead and splurge for the wine if you are so inclined, it is no more expensive than at a wine bar, though maybe not as good, yet the self-indulgence is worth it.
  4. An e-reader or good magazine (I prefer ones that I don’t normally read, another splurge) tops it all off.
  5. And for me, rarely do I work, flying is my time, my secret hideaway where no one can interrupt.

Travel is pretty much what you make of it, attitude and preparation are the key. You may not be in first class, but you can have a first class state of mind, and that makes all the difference.

Denver? How did I get here?

This beautiful sunrise is my view of DIA – Denver International Airport, this morning. I am in a Ramada near, well as near as you can be, the airport. My room is graciously paid for by United Airlines, yes they still do that for mechanical delays in some situations. That small bump on the horizon is the airport.

My mantra when travel gets crazy is still “Let it be Hot! Getting upset just makes it worse, makes the customer service folks less likely to help, and does not do any good anyway. If there is something wrong with the plane I don’t want to be on it, so it is best that they find it before we are in the air.

I will take advantage of the further hospitality of United to have a French Brunch at Pour La France in the airport, then off to Souix Falls. The seminar will take a bit of tweaking, but Skillpath has called the hotel, connected with the attendees so all will be well. I will arrive with a fresh illustration of the challenges of Managing Multiple Locations, some times travel takes adjusting.

Made it to Seattle

The fog finally lifted in Juneau and we made it out. Alaska travel teaches patience, sometimes on time is simply getting out on the day you wanted to travel.

Maybe there are lessons there for all travelers, sometimes patience is the key.

Have to say a word about the Sound Transit Link from the airport, Seattle finally has  transit to downtown, $2.50 what a deal.

Antarctica, still a great facination for me

Watching a great documentary, Encounters at the End of the World. There is just something about Antarctica that continues to amaze me. About 30 minutes into the move are the most incredible recordings of seal sounds under the ice.

Also some great movie clips from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Might need to read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyageagain.

Canceled flight and what to do

Fog is ever present this time of the year in Juneau, so the flight this evening was canceled. Long lines at the ticket counter are slow and limit your choices. Within 20 minutes of the announcement I was re-booked and writing this in the exact same bed I slept in last night.

Some tips:

  • Have the phone number of the airlines you frequent in your cell phone contacts
  • Phone the airline rather than waiting in line to re-book your flight
  • It really helps if you are premier member, they do try to accomodate
  • If the hotel you stayed in is close to the airport, call them first. You are a recent customer and so good-will may help. Instead of charging me extra tonight, knowing that I was in a tight spot, I actually got a bit lower rate.

The best piece of advice for facing delays and cancelations is to go with the flow, there is little you can do about it and getting upset just makes it worse. So I will curl up and read the rest of Surprised by Hope