DavTravels: Season 1, Episode 11

Show Notes:

My quest for dinner in #Columbus, #Ohio at the North Market, bears fruit… or a Polish sausage, at least. Then some of my favorite ice cream! | I end up in #Portland, #Oregon where I get to take a look at the mall, then go on a beautiful hike! | #Tampa, #Florida for a quick overnight and bite to eat at a Waffle House. | Again to the west coast! #Sacramento, #California (home of the million dollar bunny rabbit) and breakfast at Black Bear Diner. Back to #Denver, #Colorado and home to #Tucson, where I take #Reba on a walk in the blazing hot desert!

I’m sure that many of you have been seeing what is happening in the airline industry right now. Covid-19 has undoubtedly taken its toll. I searched for the known impact, and I found this Wikipedia entry. It is so sad to see what is happening at the moment.

One way my employers are trying to avoid laying anybody off is by offering us an option to take a voluntary leave. They are calling it “Extended Time Off” or E.X.T.O. They let those interested decide if they wanted to take up to either 6, 12, or 18 months off, with partial pay. I happen to be one of these 17,000 employees who took advantage of this.

So, I have up to the next 12 months off. Not only will I make a partial paycheck, but I’m still considered a full-time employee. This means that I have all of my health and travel benefits still. While traveling the world for a year seems like a beautiful idea, Covid-19 is still rampant in some parts of the world.

While I would love to visit my beloved Scotland for the next six months, I don’t think they want Americans to come for a visit just yet. However, I believe that I should be exempt just because of my sheer love for all things Scotland.

Instead, I’ve decided to hunker down, for the time being, with a dear friend who happens to be going through some significant health issues. The plan is to try to help out in any way I can, even if I can only offer support.

There may not be as many travel entries for a while. I’ll use this time to fix some older entries and maybe talk about more things on the bucket list. As you know, I’ve slacked off quite a bit with the blog. I do beg your forgiveness!

I will try to keep this blog’s theme true: This is a record of my travels and chasing the things on my bucket list. I don’t plan on posting very much about what is going on in my personal life, but I will share one cool thing that I find exciting- just over a month ago, I rescued a little girl that I named ‘Reba.’

Three Letters To My U.S. Passports

Dear First Passport,

I wish I had a picture of you to include in this letter. You’re in a drawer or a box somewhere, but when I come across you, I will be sure to scan you and update this entry. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for having been a wonderful part of my life. You first came to me back in 2007, when one of my best friends, Marcus, and I auditioned, and were ultimately selected to spend an autumn and winter in Taiwan, singing and entertaining tourists at an American-themed amusement park.

I remember the park directors coming to Eastern Arizona College to hold the auditions and asking us if we knew how to rollerblade (for you see, roller-blading Santa Clauses were all the rage in Taiwan back then, and that was part of the gig). I answered, ‘Yes’, but at the time I had never even put on a pair of rollerblades. It’s true I lied, but it got me the job (well, that and all my other awesome talents). How hard can roller-blading be? I remember being sad when I learned that the amusement park had gone bankrupt and this particular adventure was canceled. I now had you, my first passport. At that time, however, I had no place to go.

The first time I actually got to use you was after I’d moved up to Logan, Utah and was attending classes at Utah State University. This was the trip when my roommates James (a family member and another bestie), Paul, and Matt got together with our neighbors, Christy (Paul’s sister) and Marie and drove up to go camping at Banff National Park in Canada. I was disappointed that the Canadian border patrol didn’t stamp you. This trip, however, gave me a taste for the beautiful north and left me hungry, wanting more.

James had told me how awesome his trip Germany had been and then I got to meet Stefan, a boy from Germany who had once lived with James’ family as part of a foreign exchange student program. Stefan was so kind and told us we should plan a visit to visit his home. One night I was surfing the net, and what started out as simply checking how much it would cost to fly to western Europe, suddenly turned into purchasing two non-refundable, roundtrip tickets from Los Angeles to Paris.

That was an amazing adventure (and another excuse to use you, my first passport). As you no doubt remember, our roommate Jason joined us for that incredible trip! By this point, the love of travel was fast becoming part of my D.N.A. That seed had been planted and I desperately hoped to nourish it.

I used you when another James (a.k.a Zuka), Dave, Dave’s friend Jessica and another roommate, Jeremy, went on a road trip to see Dave’s parents’ who were serving as LDS mission presidents in Monterrey, Mexico. This was yet another trip where you weren’t stamped. If border patrol agents would only stamp you, this world would be a happier place!

I used you, yet again when I went with some dear friends to the United Kingdom in 2002. This was the trip with my dear friends’ James (Zuka), Julie, Colee, Dave, Dominoe and Makaylee. We spend just over a week visiting this land of some of my [and some of their] forefathers. Finally, another stamp! A few years later, you would be well used when I’d become a flight attendant. Even though at the time, the airline was only domestic flights, you came in quite handy for all of those T.S.A. lines and security checks.

I miss you and hope you show up one of these days! I am blessed that you helped me to discover this love I now possess.

Love, Dav

Dear Second Passport,

I apologize that you got so worn out! A few of your security features had even started to fade, resulting in additional questioning- but wow! We’ve had a blast! You have taken me back to the United Kingdom on a few different vacation trips, in and out of Iceland, you’ve allowed me to spend two amazing weeks in Ireland, in and out of Mexico and Canada a few times, all over the United States and even let me spend five weeks exploring some of western and southern Australia, in part to visit my dear friends, Arron and Brendan! I already had this growing love of travel, but with you, I really learned how to travel. I’m grateful to have known you!

Love, Dav

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Dear Third Passport,

Since you just arrived in my mailbox this past week, I really haven’t gotten to know you yet, but am looking forward to the opportunity. Now, If you’ll go over and take a look at my bucket list, you’ll agree that this is going to be a blast! I look forward to using you at the end of this month on our first adventure together! I even had them add extra pages to you!

Love, Dav

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Early on Friday morning, I left my house in a hurry.

I had planned a quick trip up to Boise, Idaho to check a couple things off of my bucket list. It looked like all the nonstop flights from Salt Lake City to Boise were close to full, and I needed to get to the airport before others who were also flying non-revenue. I usually drive downtown and leave my truck at a hotel, but I was bound and determined to get to the airport sooner than that. I used one of those off-site airport parking facilities instead.

As the shuttle driver pulled up to the airport, I realized that I’d forgotten my phone in my truck! I had to ride the shuttle back, grab the phone, and wait for the next driver to take me back to the the terminal. So much for being the first one there! To add to my stress, the shuttle driver was driving way under the speed limit. I wanted to say something, but then decided I didn’t want to sound rude. Does he not realize that some of us have to catch a plane?

When I finally stepped off the shuttle at the airport, I rushed through security and over to one of the Delta gates. I asked the agent if there were any available seats on the Boise nonstop and she told me that all of the flights were actually overbooked. That made sense since it was a Friday. I decided to walk down and see what flights were offered on Southwest, knowing full well that Southwest has no nonstop flights.

As I made my way down to the Southwest gates, I wanted to see if there were any other airlines that could get me there on a nonstop. I knew that on Southwest, I’d have to connect either in Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Oakland and even though “beggars-can’t-be-choosers”, I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to check. I opened my Orbitz app and put in the information. The app told me that there was one nonstop left on American Airlines that left at 13:30. I may have freaked out a little and bought the ticket before even reading all the “fine print”. I really needed to get to Boise!

One of the items on my second bucket list (which I haven’t posted yet) is to attend a Little Big Town (official site) concert. This is a country group whose albums I have thoroughly enjoyed, with their song-selection and close harmonies. There is truly no artists out there like them. I’ve heard other bands on YouTube do some of the Little Big Town songs as covers and it’s just not the same. These guys and gals are incredible!

So- back to the the airport: I had just purchase the ticket on the flight and once I received the email confirmation, I noticed that it wasn’t a nonstop after all. The [insert desired cuss word here] flight was not only taking me through Phoenix, but I had a 6 HOUR layover! My arrival time into Boise wouldn’t be until about 23:30 that night, and this would never do! The concert started at 20:00!

I turned around and walked back through the airport, and out of security to the American Airlines ticket counter. I was hoping they’d take pity on me, and give me a refund. The agent was very nice but told me that since I booked the ticket through Orbitz, I’d have to give them a call and see if I was eligible for a refund. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I thanked her with all the professional courtesy I could muster at that particular moment and made my way back through airport security.

Once I was back in, I found the number for Orbitz and gave them a call. I explained how I bought the ticket, thinking it was a nonstop flight and that I really needed to get to Boise before about 18:00. The agent understood and canceled my ticket and told me that the funds would take 5 to 7 business days to be returned to my credit card. At least the situation was fixed. I made my way back to the Southwest customer service and my best option was to fly from Salt Lake City to Phoenix and then on to Boise *sigh*. But at least I didn’t have to hang out in Phoenix for 6 hours. Only just over an hour.

I finally landed in Boise just before 16:30 and headed over to the car rental counter. I had originally planned on renting the car and returning it to the airport the next morning and then flying back to Salt Lake City, but with the current stress I was feeling, I asked the Enterprise agent how much more it would cost to just return the car to Salt Lake City, instead of Boise. He pushed some buttons and told me that it would only cost me a few more dollars to do that. I changed my plans and was already looking forward to the 5-hour drive home the next day.

Now comes the part where I tell you about the other bucket list item that is now checked off. I am a member of couchsurfing.com, an online community of people who are looking to stay for free at someone’s house or offer up their own couch to other travelers. I have been a member of this site for years now, and totally like the idea, but I have never had the opportunity to actually use it. I had arranged to stay on a stranger’s couch in Boise. Don’t judge me!

Since learning about this site, this is something that I’d always wanted to experience. One of the reasons I often stay in hostels when I travel for vacations is to meet people from all over the world. To me, couch surfing is that same vibe. What better way to meet and learn about somebody than in their own home, in their own environment?

Guy is a very nice person who has offered up his living room couch and has given up his own bed to travelers over the years. He lives in a small apartment, just outside of what I would consider to be downtown Boise. More of a suburb, really. A very nice area! His only roommate is his dog. We sat and talked for a few minutes and then I asked him if he could suggest any good restaurants for dinner. We discussed food and ended up going to and Indian restaurant, not too far from his house.

After dinner, I told him I had an extra ticket to the concert that I’d be selling to someone outside the Taco Bell Arena, but that he was more than welcome to come to the concert with me instead. By this point, I was pretty sure that Guy isn’t a psycho killer type and I wouldn’t mind hanging out with him at the concert. He wasn’t sure he was up to attending the concert, but after dinner, when we got back to his house, I managed to talk him into it.

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Guy and I at Little Big Town!

The concert was so stinkin’ awesome! I really can’t even explain it. When I attend a live concert and the singer (or ‘singers’ in this case) sound every bit as good as the studio album, or even better, that’s what does it for me! I LOVE music! It has such an all-encompassing power over me! Below is some of my favorite parts of the concert.

This was a great little trip! Even though getting there was a tad bit stressful, the ride home to sit and think was great! I’m so thankful to have heard this band live, and to have made a new friend!

A Gal Named Suzy

Tonight I ended up in San Antonio, Texas. This morning I started a three-day trip with a gal named Suzy, one of our newest flight attendants. She commutes out of Phoenix, and when I found this out, I told her that I grew up in Thatcher, Arizona (about three hours southeast of Phoenix). Usually, when I tell people this, the next question is: Where is Thatcher?

Not only does Suzy know where Thatcher is, but she said she’s originally from Snowflake, Arizona (if Thatcher had a twin or sister city, it would no doubt be Snowflake). I told her that I love Snowflake and had many friends from that area. I mentioned that one of my very best friends, Marcus Ellsworth is also from there. Her eyes grew big, and she told me that not only did she know Marcus, but that her family is close with his family.

We start to talk about Thatcher, and she mentions that her older sister Heidi went to Eastern Arizona College (the local community college that I also attended and my dad taught at for years and years). Now my eyes grow big- Heidi used to date my brother Matt. Suzy remembered Matt! Now we’re both laughing and pretty much freaking out on the jump seat.

I love when I discover one of these connections! I’ve heard people say that we’re all connected by six degrees or less, but since I left the state of Arizona, these connections have been so rare that when it happens, I almost get tears in my eyes. Are these occurrences merely happenstance, or do you see the hand of God? I do believe in coincidence- however, I feel that too many things are dismissed as just that- mere coincidence. I’ve always felt like something needs to be shared or learned from each and every person that we interact with in life. What do you think? Mere coincidence or divine intervention?