Due West

I went over my bucket list, and I realized that I hadn’t posted the pictures and videos from something I checked off back in 2013. I know what you’re thinking, and yes- I’m a horrible person. Nevertheless- Item 31 on my list is to hear Due West perform live. They are a fantastic country band, and I grew up with Brad Hull in my small town in southeastern Arizona.

Scotland 8: Day 24, The Conclusion

03.25.20 | Home | 23:47

I woke up after about nine hours of sleep! Nine hours isn’t usually something that my body requires, but I think lugging my backpack all around London wiped me out.

I got all my things ready and checked out of the hostel. One night is not enough time to spend in London. I’ll have to make it part of the planning for my next go-round. I just hope that the next go-round won’t be cut short by any viruses.

Heathrow has no lines and no waits. It was amazing to walk right up to the ticket counter and right up to the security line. I guess there is the silver lining on this whole debacle. In no time at all, I was in the gate area, buying cookies for the crew.

When Norwegian has to cancel my original flight home, I booked my Delta flight from London to Detroit, and then to Salt Lake City. Yesterday that first flight got canceled, and so They changed me to fly from London to Atlanta to Detroit and finally to Salt Lake City. Yes, it was annoying to be given that extra leg, but I knew that they were doing their best to get me home.

About halfway from London to Atlanta, I was looking at my itinerary, and I noticed that they had me missing my Detroit flight by about an hour! This would have meant that I’d have to spend a night in Detroit, and I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen.

I started doing research, connected to the plane’s wifi and noticed that there were still at least two nonstop flights from Atlanta to Salt Lake City after we were supposed to be landing in Atlanta. I jumped in Delta’s app, and after having to wait in line for about an hour and a half, I managed to get to chat with a customer service agent.

She was able to change me to one of the nonstops to SLC. Now I’m back in my original plan of only having to take two flights to get home! I’m so thankful that my first plane had working wifi available!

I need to hand it to my first crew! The flight crews were terrific, and even though it took a long time to get through to customer service, they were able to make things right! I know that they are working their fingers to the bone to get passengers home in the wake of this coronavirus disaster- so kudos!

My second crew, on the other hand, were not as good. When I dropped off treats, the flight attendant barely even acknowledged me- no big deal, I guess. Also, they didn’t even seem like they wanted to be there. It was such a contrast from the first group. I wish I hadn’t wasted the chocolate on them.

I am now home and getting ready to fall asleep. There is no way I could adequately describe how tired I am. I have so much on my mind. What have I learned from this trip?

1. Be flexible in your travels

2. Always pay the extra price in case you need to cancel or change your plans (no penalty)

3. Always talk to strangers

4. Remember that travel is about the journey, not just the destination

And with that- I’m off to bed.

Scotland 8: PreTrip

03.01.20 | Salt Lake City, Utah | 07:26

It’s time to start ‘Phase 2’ of this vacation, which I am going to mark with #Scotland 8! I’m excited to return to this place that I love so much, and every time I’ve visited over the years, I’ve found that I love it more and more. Back in 2017, Scotland was voted, ‘the worlds’ most beautiful county’! This doesn’t surprise me at all. I didn’t even take the survey, but I agree. It’s true, I haven’t been to a million different places, and sometimes you can’t compare apples and oranges, but I feel that nothing can match the beauty of Scotland!

I am sitting in the Salt Lake City International airport, waiting for my non-revenue flight to Los Angeles. When I left for Scotland two years ago, I asked my nephew, Sam, to crash at my place overnight, and then he drove me to the airport since I had an early flight. I decided I didn’t want to inconvenience him again last year.

This last year, I parked my car at my sister’s house, close to Park City. I loved this idea, having my family watch over my car while I was gone for such a long time. The only bad part was the fact that I had to get a Lyft from her house, all the way to the airport (like a good 40+ minute drive) and then from the airport back to her home when I got back. This was very expensive! Not to mention having to drive my car from her house, all the way to my house after having been awake for more than 24 hours! I basically saved no money by doing this.

This year, I decided that the best plan would be to leave my car at home. This way, it can be in my garage, out of the elements. I’m not saving any money by parking it all the way at my sister’s house, and she doesn’t have room to park it in her garage. It cost me $55 to get a Lyft to the airport, which is steep, but I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this trip, financially.

My last few visits to Scotland, I have used my mobile phone freely. AT&T, my service provider, has decent coverage in most of the places I go, and a pretty competitive plan for international travel. It’s $9.99 plus tax for a rolling 24 hours of use. This gives me access to my mobile phone plan, which is unlimited data, talk, texting. It’s been a blessing not to have to watch my minutes or gigabytes. The only problem, however, is that this will add up to a whopping $609.39 plus tax by the time I return home.

This year, I have discovered Skyroam, which is a mobile wifi hotspot. The device looks like an orange hockey puck. You pay $179, and it offers a rate of $8.99 per rolling 24 hours if you buy it, or $9.99 per day if you decide to rent the device instead. This isn’t a savings over what AT&T offers me, but Skyroam also provides a rate of $99 per month for unlimited use! This is how I plan on saving some money abroad. Rather than paying the $609.39, I’ll be paying $377. I’ll let you know soon enough if it’s working throughout my travels.

I’m sitting in the B terminal at LAX. My flight doesn’t board for about an hour and doesn’t leave for about two hours. It took me a while to get through security- not only are there so many passengers in the line, but my bags had to run twice since I forgot to take my laptop out. I’m used to going through security in uniform, and when I do that, my computer doesn’t have to come out. My focus is on Scotland, not on safety- whoops!

The B Terminal at LAX

Before coming back through security, I walked down to In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda. I enjoyed my double-double, animal style. It’s been a few weeks since I had a good burger, so this was a great lunch!

Double-Double, Animal Style

LAX-LGW | 21:22 (California Time)

Before boarding, I ran to a newsstand in the airport to purchase some chocolate for my flight crew. All I could find (within my budget) was some Hershey’s Nuggets, and even though I usually get something more decadent, this would have to do.

Thanks to this little token, they have been a fantastic crew, continually checking on me. They gave me a blanket, a pair of headphones, and a couple of bottles of water- they keep asking me if I’d like any snacks.

Legroom

Hawaii 2020: Day 1

02.20.20 | Home | 02:04

I set my alarm for 04:15, but my body has been wide awake since midnight. I’m not going to fight it anymore- Today is the first day of my vacation, and I can hardly stand it- I’m so excited! Not only will I be one step closer to visiting every state (bucket list item number 99), but this is just going to be phase one of my adventure for the year.

This past August, my brother announced that we were going to Hawaii for our 2020 family reunion. Those invited: My parents, siblings, their spouses, and myself. We love the next generation, but these family members are not invited. We tried to do this last year, but there were just too many conflicts. We felt like this needed to happen- not only am I one step closer to completing my bucket list item number 99 (visiting every state), but this has been a life long dream of my mother. Since my parents are in their 80s, we figured that this is a good enough excuse to go. She ain’t gettin’ any younger!

The next seven days’ worth of posts will merely be ‘Phase 1’ of my 2020 vacation. I’m going to use ‘#Hawaii 2020’ Because there are going to be three phases over the next two months, I’m going to try my best to update this blog daily. A few friends have told me that they enjoy following along, and so I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing over the years.

I want to do some more live-streaming on this journey, so I want to invite you to download the Periscope app and follow @DavTravels. I will post the videos on the blog as soon as I have time, but you can always see them sooner via Periscope.

I also want to invite you to join my Facebook page, if you haven’t yet. This is one way to get notifications whenever there is a new post. Just click the Facebook link up top! Then, “Like” the page, and you’re all set!

Salt Lake City, Utah | 04:32

I guess I was too excited to go back to sleep, because now I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City International Airport, waiting for my first flight.

07:34

This is my first time flying on Alaska Airlines. I handed the “A” flight attendant a bag of Dove chocolates, so I hope he was grateful for the gesture. I cannot stress enough: Bring something for your flight attendants!

08:54 | SLC-SEA

The flight crew just paged for medical assistance. It seems like something is going on with a passenger in the back of the plane. I hope they are ok.

09:02 | SeaTac, Washington

If I bring a gift for the flight crew, whether it be a gift card, snacks, or chocolate, all I expect is a “Thank you.” I’m not expecting them to upgrade me or any form of special treatment.

On the flights that I work, I try to make a big deal about receiving a gift, making sure the crew members know who brought it, so they can thank him or her. I’ll even jump on the p.a. and make an announcement if I feel it’s appropriate.

I feel like my first exposure to Alaska Airlines was nothing special. I’ve heard such good things about their flight attendants, but I don’t know what that first crew’s deal is. Nobody bothered thanking me.

When I handed the gift bag filled with chocolates, I smiled and told the lead flight attendant that I was also a flight attendant and that I work for Southwest Airlines.- I got half a smile.

I guess I should be thankful for that half of a smile. I have more chocolates for my second crew, but little do they know- their reaction or lack of reaction is going to be the deciding factor of whether or not I bother to bring a gift on my return trip next week.

Inflight Snack
SEA Airport

SEA-LIH | 13:23 (Hawaii time)

It looks like I got my wish. The new flight crew was incredibly kind and even told me they were very thankful for the chocolates. That’s all I wanted- my faith in humankind (and Alaska Airlines) has been restored. I’m going even to go one step further and give the airline bonus points because they have a place for me to charge my phone.

Soon, these amazing flight attendants were comping my meal and even gave me a tablet to watch movies. This crew seemed so much better than the first.

Princeville, Hawaii | 16:16

As soon as I got my checked bag from the baggage claim, my sister Karen, Joe, and Brett were already outside waiting for me. We drove to the north side of the island, to Princeville, where we are staying in two Vrbo homes that are side-by-side.

20:57

This afternoon, my brother Matt took some of us down a very muddy trail to the ocean. The swimming area is called Queen’s Bath. It was so much fun to swim around in the ocean for a while!

The Muddy Trail
Queen’s Bath

The only tough part was walking back up the muddy trail to the car. B the time we made it back, most of us were covered in mud!

For dinner, we had some delicious grits with shrimp in them, that my sister Melanie made. It was perfect!

Dinner with Family

I have now been awake for over 24 hours, and I’m starting to feel that way. I’m hoping to fall asleep fast.

Scotland 7: Day 40 (conclusion)

04.11.19 | Home | 07:15

By the time my head hit my pillow last night, I was out. My body had been up, at that point, for 22+ hours. This is what happens when you ride the cheap seats: LGW > SEA > OAK > SLC. Shoutout to the most amazing Norwegian crew who brought me from Gatwick to Seattle. They made that 11-hour chunk of my journey, so nice! Again, I bribed my way into their hearts by bringing chocolates that I grabbed from the duty-free shop at the airport. It never hurts, people! I’m telling you it doesn’t!

I realized when I landed at SeaTac, that I had forgotten to factor in the time it would take me to get through international customs and then all the way to the ‘B’ gates to catch my second flight. Thank goodness for the Mobile Passport app that I have on my phone! This made it to where I could cut most of the people in the line. I almost don’t want to share this information, because the more that people know about this, the longer the line is going to be. At least this blog doesn’t have a whole lot of readers- let’s keep this information on the D.L.

After missing my train exit, and going to the wrong security line, I got to my gate with only moments to spare. Then I found out that not only was there room on the flight, but the plane was a few minutes delayed. For once, I was very thankful for a delayed flight! I was soon in Oakland, waiting for my last flight to Salt Lake City. Once again, there was plenty of space, so getting back to Utah wasn’t a problem.

Here are some lessons I have learned over the last 40 days:

  1. Don’t bring a printed itinerary. It was a waste and I didn’t need it. From here on out, I will only use the TripIt App on my phone (check this out before you travel next time) and will keep a back up of all my confirmation information in an email folder.
  2. Just about every business in Scotland will take a contactless payment, therefore I can use my Apple Pay everywhere! This gave me so much peace of mind since I didn’t have to give out my card number a million times. I learned to go to a reputable A.T.M. (like a major bank) and take out about £100 at a time, but only using that for places that wouldn’t take Apple Pay, or I would use that cash to tip servers, etc.
  3. When booking trains/buses/transportation, factor in when I am allowed to check into my next lodging, that way I don’t have to lug around a heavy backpack while I’m waiting to check in. Some places will store a bag for me so that I can go out and explore, and some places will charge a fee for this.

Ok, I need to go get some things done before I return to work- no pressure, but there is only approximately 324 days until ‘Scotland 8’.

Travel Week: 3

My assignment for my two-day trip was to fly from DEN to BOI to MDW, and finally, I was to end up at CVG. I was looking forward to this since I’ve never flown into Cincinnati. Day two was supposed to work two legs back to Denver. This got me to Denver with plenty of time to kill before my 13:40 check-in.

Low and behold, my first leg to Boise had been canceled. They still had me scheduled, however, to fly the rest out of Boise. The only problem: I’m in Denver, not Boise. Sure enough, they fixed my schedule. Instead of working two two-day trips back to back, they changed it into a three-day trip.

Sunday: DEN > GRR

Other than a slight delay, we landed in Grand Rapids without any incident.

Monday: GRR > RIC > BWI > DEN

With all of the delays and reroutes happening this week, I probably had a change to my assignment at least five times. When I woke up, the plan was to go GRR > BWI > MCO > PHL. Coworkers tell me that you should never make plans because once you do, the scheduling gods know, and they end up changing your trip. It’s like a Murphy’s Law thing. I jinxed our day because I was excited to take two of my crew members to get cheesecakes in Philly.

About forty minutes into the flight, we were rerouted to Richmond, Virginia. The result was 141 upset passengers. It would have been good to be finished there for the night, but an hour-and-a-half later, we were on our way to BWI. I reminded the passenger several times that we always try our best to be on time, but safety is our biggest concern. When we finally landed in Baltimore, I walked from the ‘C’ terminal to the ‘B,’ just in time to work the last leg back to Denver- which was the latest change to my assignment.

Both of the crews that I worked with on this two-day trip were just amazing. We had so much fun laughing and joking around with each other. It almost made it worth working a late shift (not quite, but almost). I got back to the crashpad at about 02:30 and was fast asleep about fifteen minutes later.

Tuesday: DEN > FLL

Another change! When I left the crashpad, the assignment was to work two legs to San Jose, California. Instead- I was to work one leg to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This 18+ hour overnight on the beach was just what my soul needed! I was scrolling through my pictures, and then it appears that the last time I was at the beach was back in January.

I stayed at B Ocean Resort-like last time. This is located right on the water. The only thing that I don’t like is the fact that the food there is so expensive! I know this is a vacation town thing, but still. Paying thirteen dollars for a waffle on Wednesday morning was a bit much. Not waffles (plural), mind you- one waffle.

After eating, I hit the beach. The hotel has a private beach area where those staying can use one of their beach chairs for free. If you want to fork out some cash, you can upgrade to one covered with a shade. I sat in the sun for about five minutes before deciding it was time to swim in the ocean.

We didn’t even have to head back to the airport until 18:30, so I had almost a full day of relaxation and enjoyment. I only headed back inside when I was starting to turn pink. I didn’t want to get sunburn like I always do.

Wednesday: FLL > BNA > DEN

Wednesday’s workday was very easy, as we only had to work the first of the two legs. The second was just a deadhead back to Denver. It was great to see my friend and coworker Linda, who happened to be working that flight.

Now that I’ve had the mental reset from some beach time, life is good again. Not that life wasn’t good before, but this particular beach visit was just such a welcomed surprise!

It’s time for my second TRAVEL WEEK post. I was hoping to do this more often, but the only one I’ve done thus far was way back in November of last year- whoops! This is a record of the places I traveled for work this past week. I’ve been working so many trips since returning from Scotland, that I hope to have some great stories to share, as well as the motivation to actually share them!

I’m working the “D” position on this trip, so that means I’m with a few different crews. I love this, as it gives me an opportunity to meet more of my [thousands and thousands of] co-workers.

Monday: DEN > MCO > IAD

IMG_1798

Add A Fried Egg and Bacon!

Herndon, Virginia | 20:50

Day one ended at Washington Dulles International Airport. My overnight stay was in nearby Herndon, Virginia at the Hilton, which is only about a ten-minute ride from the airport. The afternoon was very overcast, and since I had to wake up so early, I really wasn’t feeling like leaving the hotel to do anything. I walked down to the restaurant/bar and grabbed a burger for dinner. I had them add a fried egg and some bacon- it was so yummy!

Tuesday: IAD > DEN > SLC

Salt Lake City, Utah | 21:57

A huge job perk is when I happen to get a Salt Lake City overnight stay. Normally, if my stay is more than about 15 hours, I’ll drive home and spend the night in my own bed. Today I decided I’d just stay at the hotel and spend some time in the city. When I first landed, I called to book a massage. They gave me a therapist who I’d never had before and the guy was amazing! I’ll definitely come back to him in the future! When the hour was over, I told him that I’d wished I’d had him for another hour, at least. I believe in massages! I love them- and they’re much more affordable, thanks to places like Massage Envy.

One of the places where we currently stay here in Salt Lake City is The Grand America Hotel. This is my first time here and this place is, without a doubt, one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in! One of my coworkers commented that this hotel shouldn’t be in Salt Lake City, but rather, New York City. That’s how nice this is! Definitely in the top five! I had no choice but to walk around the halls and grounds, just to take a few pictures.

IMG_1816I found dinner at Beto’s, which isn’t too far of a walk from the hotel. Truth be told- I’ve been spending too much money on food as of late, and this is a great meal for cheap! For my Arizona peeps, have you ever eaten at Filiberto’s Mexican Food? It’s that same vibe, in fact, somebody once told me that the recipes are the same, because Beto’s was started by the guy’s brother. I’m not sure if that’s true, plus I’m too lazy to do the research. You just can’t go wrong with a delicious fish burrito, however. I know it sounds gross- it’s so not gross!

Wednesday: SLC > BWI > DEN

Brighton, Colorado | 21:20

Today was good. I worked a couple great crews, including some Baltimore-base girls who I haven’t seen in more than ten years! It was so great to see them! The flights were pretty bumpy coming from the east coast, but we landed safe and on time at DEN.

IMG_1820

Dawn Works the Grill

Tonight I’m back at the crashpad in Brighton, Colorado. I had planned on ordering some delivery for dinner, but Dawn told me that she was going to make barbecue for us instead. Once in awhile, she will surprise us and make dinner. One year, for New Year’s Eve, she even made us lobster and crab! Tonight she grilled burgers, sausages, and chicken- it was so good! I think I ate a bit too much!

Thursday: DEN > ABQ > DAL > DTW

Romulus, Michigan | 22:13

My day was good but seemed long. This is probably because we had over three hours of ground time at DAL. Other than one rude passenger on our first leg, everyone else seemed to be in good spirits- it was a great day! I even got to flirt with one of our elderly lady passengers. She was a hoot! I’m working with a great crew, too! One of them is a former crashpad roommate.

Tonight I’m at the Four Points Sheraton in Romulus, Michigan, very close to DTW. I just had some overpriced soft tacos, and am hoping that I can fall asleep soon. If I can fall asleep in the next half hour, then I will actually get seven hours of sleep tonight! This is a worthy goal, but it’s not going to happen.

I think I’m going to lay in bed and watch Forensic Files. Such a cool show!

Friday: DTW > ATL > PBI > ISP

Hauppauge, New York | 18:14

This may sound ego-driven, but my crew and I definitely earned our paychecks today! Nothing demands patience like working a full flight from West Palm Beach, Florida to Long Island, New York! We were like a flying senior center! Every New Yorker has a sassy/ spicy attitude- they all have something to say, and every passenger will demand your undivided attention.

The passengers in my section were actually very nice. Yes, they were loud and demanding, but the best part about working a plane full of New Yorkers is the fact that I can be just as loud and sassy. They don’t care- this is just how they communicate. We had quite a few good laughs.

Tonight I ended up at ISP and am staying at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge. If I had a longer time, I would be tempted to jump on a train and head to Manhattan. Unfortunately, I have to be awake so early tomorrow (like 03:45!) and so I’m hoping to fall asleep in the next hour or two. Again, it’s probably not going to happen.

IMG_1821Instead, I went downstairs to have an early dinner with my coworker, Kevin. He had a burger, and I had a French dip sandwich. This was possibly the most delicious French dip sandwich I’ve ever had. I can’t even describe it- it was like melt-in-your-mouth delicious. This may be because I was extremely hungry when I sat down to eat. That’s what happens when the only food I’ve had all day is protein shakes on the plane.

Saturday: ISP > BWI > ORF > DEN

Home | 21:48

Today was an amazing day! As the passengers left the plane (at every stop), we received so many compliments- many of them told us that they had never been on a better flight. I love it when a passenger gives me a compliment like that. It means so much!

Three legs back to Denver! When my plane landed, I rushed to the other side of the terminal for my commute flight home. Thank goodness I was there before any other employees (only one other coworker showed up) because every seat had been taken. Never underestimate the power of one night in one’s own bed. Yes, just one night. Tomorrow afternoon, I fly back to Denver to start another travel week.

Last night, my nephew Sam came over and slept on my couch. I asked him if he could drop me off early this morning at Salt Lake City airport. Since I’ll be away from home for a while, I didn’t want to keep my car out in the elements. The employee parking area at SLC isn’t covered parking. I pay them tons of money to park there, and I wish they would use some of that money to put a roof over our vehicles. Perhaps my money is helping to pay for the new airport that they’re building.

Sam has inspired me to set up a website that will display a ranking of how much I love each of my nephews and nieces. This way, they can compete for the top spot by doing things for me or buying me stuff. He is currently at the top of the list. I want to inspire/ challenge the other 24 to up their game to earn that number one spot. I would include all of my great-nephews and great-nieces, but they are too young and don’t yet have jobs to make money to buy me stuff.

The first leg of the journey was a flight from SLC to BWI. Tonight I’m back in Linthicum, Maryland. This is my old stomping grounds from the first three years that I was based at BWI. Many memories of living in downtown Baltimore and then having a crashpad here in Linthicum after moving to Kentucky. The best part of living in Maryland was the friends I made. Among them is my dear, sweet friend Monica.

Monica picked me up, and we just had a great meal together. She told me about the friends she’d kept in touch with- friends from “the old days.” While we talked, I realized that I had left Maryland for Kentucky more than ten years ago! I don’t even know where time has gone! The last time I was even with Monica was at least five years ago when our friend Arron was in town- I remember going to play games at Dave & Buster’s. As per usual, my time with Monica was so short. I had to be the party-pooper and get back to the hotel. I need rest- I haven’t slept very much for the last three nights. This is because I’m too excited- it’s been constant trips to the bathroom, you know when a little puppy gets so excited that it has to pee? That’s been my body all week. Finally, the day has come! It’s time to go on vacation!

Each time I prepare for a trip to Scotland, I have a friend or two who want to go with me. The first time this happened, I asked that friend what he wanted to see and do while there. I set up what I thought would be the perfect trip to Scotland, especially for someone who has never been there. Then that friend had a conflict and had to drop out of the trip. I still had a great trip but by myself. I’m not complaining, however. This same thing happened a second time with other friends. Just like last time, these friends had to drop out for one reason or another. I’ve learned that I need only to plan the perfect trip for myself. That way, if the others drop out, I still have an ideal trip for one. No regrets- over the years, I have gotten extremely good at traveling by myself (and I like it!).

I invited many friends/ coworkers to come with me. Most of them said they were interested, but the number quickly began to dwindle before I started booking. Of the twenty-one invited, two have made it to the deadline. My coworker Jonny will join me for the first few days, and my friend Alan wants to join me toward the end. I am surprised that more weren’t interested because this is a group of people who make their living by traveling. Most of them know how to make an international trip. Some, albeit, are new to the line of work/ lifestyle and aren’t getting paid very much yet, but It’s not like I planned this trip last week- I let them know about this as early as October.

Again, no big deal- it’s still going to be a fun time in Scotland! I have planned the perfect adventure. I am going to try to update this blog every day, internet connection permitting. You know there will be pictures of most of my food and, more than likely, a daily sleep report. I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors- these will be fixed at a future date. 

Here we go! when you thought I would sit still for a little while- Tomorrow is the beginning of Scotland 6!