Polaroid Photo

Uncle Markie out and about.

Refresh for a different picture!


Choose a Topic:

Mar '18

Trip Report: Osaka

I had to look it up. Hip Contusion. That’s most likely what I suffered the other day. Right leg pain and flexibility issues. NOT the thing you want when you are headed out of town doing tourist stuff that requires lots of walking and lots of stairs. Welcome to Japan!

Julian has a great view from his building, FYI. Took this shot while waiting for the elevator:

Because Julian works until after 9PM, I headed into Nagoya Central Station ahead of him to grab our two tickets on the Shinkansen headed to Osaka. Julian and I were to meet up under the infamous “Golden Clock”.

Got the tickets but needed a little food:

My choice of food was as much about my love of hot dogs as it was for a place to sit down.

While Japan has plenty of trains that run on time, they lack much in the way of seating ANYWHERE (stations and throughout public spaces), which considering all the walking and stairs, with an aging population, it’s probably not a good mix. But I digress.

Before leaving the house, I popped out to the store for some supplies for the trip. All the food groups. Whiskey and mixers:


Dried squid, wasabi peas, and little sausage sticks:

Julian was on time getting to “The Golden Clock”, and so was the train:

Never seen a urinal on a train!

It took us a little over an hour to get to Osaka. Then there was the hike to the Asahiplaza Capsule Hotel.

We still needed to explore the nightlife of the Dōtonbori neighborhood and get some food.

A specialty of Osaka is their Octopus Balls (Takoyaki), so we split one:

And then it was off to a table top cooking restaurant:

Julian’s Japanese comes in handy when ordering from our VERY CUTE waiter:

Throat? Penis? Red fibrous meat of the cow’s front stomach?

Not your style? Maybe Heart Crotch, or the variation, Spicy Tongue Crotch? They have, and I quote, “Hard To Find Intestine.”

And I didn’t even mention the Hot & Spicy Retuculum or the Dainty Beef Face, nor the Red Fibrous Meat of the Cow’s Front Stomach with Scallion and Salt (how VERY SPECIFIC).

We weren’t as adventurous when we ordered…

Back to the hotel we went…full, and a little tipsy.

So, capsule hotels are a little odd, and rule bound. Shoes off in the lobby, check in, put your shoes in the shoe locker, turn in that key and get your personal stuff locker key. Luggage is not allowed in the “capsules”, so if it doesn’t fit in the gym-sized locker, that will be an extra 200yen (on top of the 3000yen [about $30] capsule rate). At the lockers you change into your yukata (rob top/drawstring bottoms), throw some personal items in the pod, and head to the basement where there is a full Japanese bath included in your room rate. Nothing like a long washing session before popping your tired bones in either still or bubbling hot water, or maybe just hanging out in the sauna (which, oddly, had a TV set in it). It being a traditional Japanese bath, no swimsuits are allowed, and they are serious about the heavy bathing before. Needless to say, no pictures of the facilities, oh, and by the way, like most of the public baths, you are not allowed in if you have tattoos, as they are associated with the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia).
LINK TO ALL THE RULES. Interestingly, the no tattoos was a sign in the bath itself, but not on the brochure or website, so I’m guessing that this is not strongly enforced for Westerners.

Here is a view from the inside of your pod. You have your choice of a TV or an electrical outlet. It’s an up-charge if you want both.

We went for the outlet as they were sold out of combo units.

I slept amazing well for it being a coffin. I think the booze helped.

In the morning we are off on our final sightseeing experience of Osaka – the Cup Noodle Museum. On the way there, passed this sign, which Julian informed me, that while Kobe, famous for its Kobe Beef, the beef at these stand is just overpriced from that region, rather than been raised in the Kobe tradition of pampering your cows:

The museum is several trains away from the hotel:

And amazingly well-signed at the destination station:

Talk about KIDS everywhere…to get to the museum we passed hundreds – all clutching these air-filled bags with their cup noodle inside so they would survive the trip home.

Yes, the statue of the founder has a packet of noodles in his hand.

If you ever wanted to know the history of ramen in its own serving container – this is the place.

Ramen through the ages:

Ramen in space:

Let’s not forget the theatre presentation:

Its free for the self-guided tour (2000yen deposit if you want the English language audio tour), but if you want the hand-on, make-your-own-from-scratch experience, that’s extra.

If that’s too much time and too much money, you can opt for the color your own bowl, and have them create a custom package of ramen with whatever toppings you want. Be prepared for a LONG line:

What can I say, I like weird tourist places – but it did make us hungry for noodles, just not from a cup, but a bowl. It took us a while to find a sit-down restaurant in the massive Osaka Train Station and my hip/leg was still bothering me, but the wait and the walk was worth it:

Next stop – Kyoto!

[?? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: Hōnen Matsuri

That’s right, it’s Penis Festival Time – I mean Hōnen Matsuri!

This will be the third “festival“, my second time at Komaki. I’ve returned because I wanted to see what a smaller town festival would be like when it didn’t fall on a weekend. The one in Kawasaki always on the first Sunday of April, while the Komaki one is always on a specific date – March 15th, which when I was here three years ago, fell on a Sunday.

There must be some tourist interest for them to post the sign in English, especially since the route alternates even and odd years. See the WikiPedia entry.

There is lots of milling about before the parade – food stalls, if you can call chocolate covered bananas, food.

And candy stalls selling penis pops…that would be Taylor, a friend of Julian’s joining us:

Strangely, Zima is still a thing in Japan, and I got talked into trying one:

Which led to this….

And all this was BEFORE the parade was underway….which starts now:

And they were handing out free sake ladled out of a big wooden cask…

And they had a “petting zoo”…

We followed the parade all the way back to the temple…

As a side note it was interesting that locals would approach and chat with us – it helped that Julian and Taylor both speak a little Japanese.

Everyone was getting into the spirit…think Goth Sperm Dress:

Then there was the traditional “throwing of the rice cakes”…

I like the guy with the catcher’s mitt!

Somewhere along the way we met up with Kent, who Taylor knew from Tender, but had declined his invitation to go to the penis festival together…and as (his) luck would have it, he found us in the crowd.

Off we went for real food:

I do remember that this was an “all you could eat – all you could drink” place.

Which could be why I don’t remember the details of the karaoke bar we went to afterwards…at least I got a bit of a nap in. Apparently, I only made it through one drink at the bar – which was all you could drink in an hour. Not looking too hot on the train ride home:

At least tonight, we made the last train home.


[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: Nagoya & Komaki

With Julian’s work schedule (11am-9:30pm), it was definitely a sleep-in day after chatting until 3am last night. Guess I forgot to mention that we stopped by a 24-hour market near Julian’s place to pick up some supplies. That might have led to the 3am bedtime.

The Melita is in the picture for size (it’s the standard #4 size, not the #2, next to a 1.5-liter Coke Zero – next to the FOUR LITER bottle of Suntory Classic Whiskey. Go big or go home!

I made myself a little breakfast:

Before heading out to Sakae to one of the largest 100 Yen stores in the city. It’s a short walk from Julian’s apartment in this complex:

To the subway headed into the city. No transfers (at least to Sakae), and saw a couple of interesting vehicles along the way:

And, not unlike Seattle, some interesting manhole covers:

Even a cemetery:

One of the things I do when I travel is to take pictures of the transit maps (especially if they have English on them). It gives me a backup of where I’m going and how to return:

While in Sakae looking for the exit that Julian sent me, ran across a Bear Papa, which we have one in Seattle!

Found my way to the store, which covers and entire floor of a mall:

I actually managed to spend 3400Yen which means lots of quirky presents for people upon my return:

Also went across the street to Don Quixote – a four floor mass of Japanese consumer goods:

It wasn’t until I as headed back to the station that I noticed a Ferris Wheel stuck to the outside:

Back in Julian’s neighbor it was off to the Aeon (grocery/department store) a couple of block away for grab an afternoon snack, which wasn’t these:

But these:

The plan is to meet up with Julian in Komaki where he teaches, taking a different subway line. Julian tracked down a spare rechargeable transit card with I refilled in Sakae. He works in the building right on top of the train station, so it was easy to find.

Off to dinner we go with his friend Tak at the wheel. I’d met him on one or the other of my two previous trips to Nagoya. Two more teachers, a student, Tak, Julian, and I in a van rolling towards the restaurant owned by the mother of another student who has befriended Julian with furniture for his apartment, etc.

She even gave him a bottle of sweet potato wine (Sochu).

I was fascinated by the Jazz Musician speaker set. Might have to try and track on down.

We were having so much fun that, tonight, we did miss the last train. Tak offered us a list, but it would have been 35 minutes out of his way, and he gets up at 6am, so we sucked it up and dropped about 5000Yen (about $50) on a cab for the 7-mile ride.

Didn’t stay up as late tonight, closer to 1:30am.

Tomorrow, Julian has PTO (Paid Time Off), which was a royal pain to get from a supervisor. He had to go to the district manager to get his legal PTO.

It’s festival time (again!).

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: Headed To Japan

Nice to have a washer/dryer when preparing to leave the continent for ten days. Woohoo, clean laundry!

My trip to Japan kicked off with a humorous encounter at the ANA check-in counter…where I ran into Beth, Zilla, their two kids and his mother. And on my flight no less!

Seems like they like to get to the airport three hours before flights as well.

Left them to get through security, and I headed to the S Concourse and the Sea-Tac owned lounge that ANA contracts out to serve their Business and First-Class passengers. Nothing like a noon time Manhattan.

When I arrived, breakfast stuff was out, but quickly transitioned to lunch items:

Not a bad lounge, though not huge:

Nice views of the runway:

Before long, it was time to board:

Not the best picture of my Business Class seat, but you can see by the window size that this is a 787.

And the usual pre-departure glass of bubbles!

And it certainly was a beautiful day to fly…

Soon, food started coming out. There were choices of either Japanese-style, or what they referred to as International. I chose International. Round one:

Round two:

Here is a close up of the classiest salt/pepper contained I’ve seen on any airline:

They were two separate pieces, and the empty on is for Olive Oil that came in a tiny little bottle which immediately went into my backpack.

On to the soup (corn) course:

Followed by the main:

Followed by dessert:

And more booze:

I went back to check on my friends a couple of times during the flight – they were in Economy Plus, which has nicer, wider seats (and I believe, upgraded food), that regular economy in the far back. I think they said it was $1800 more round-trip for the four of them:

Kind of nice having people to visit during the flight!

Then there was the pre-landing food service. I opted for “International” with a little champagne:

Nine and a half hours later, we landed in Tokyo, where after immigration and customs I headed to the ANA Domestic Lounge, which was oddly, before security:

With free, pour it yourself booze:

But the food offerings were fairly puny.

In retrospect, I should have used the showers in the lounge. Next time!

The boarding was out a set of doors and onto a bus out on the tarmac to a 767-300, which seems like overkill for the short flight to Nagoya. My boarding pass said Economy – but this is what “economy” meant to ANA:

Before the doors closed, I moved to this seat instead:

Like its own little island in the sky!

There was only time for a water and tea service on the 45-minute flight – maybe that’s why they called it “economy”.

This is what greeted in at baggage claim!

And Johnny Depp was on the train with me:

While getting into town was a straight shot – finding the “Golden Clock” in the huge Nagoya station took an hour of wondering around:

I needed to find the clock because his directions to the British Pub (a chain called The Hub) we were going to meet up with started from this point.

I can’t tell you how glad I was to find the place – and get a cocktail. I would have preferred a stool to sit on, but the place was packed, and everyone was smoking, both inside and outside, where it was actually warm enough to hang out.

I couldn’t really leave my bags to go back and get a second drink, so messaged Julian to meet me at the Golden Clock instead. At least there I could sit on my bag without the smoke.

Julian works until 9:30pm (starts at noon) teaching English in Komaki, one town over. By the time he got there it was already 10:30pm so we headed out to a 60’s style restaurant, oddly, a couple of doors down from The Hub.

While it was a relaxed dinner, we had to rush at the end to make sure we caught the last train home, which was around midnight. We made it, but with only minutes to spare.

All in all, a VERY LONG day for me.

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts: CLICK HERE.

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Home Report: The Washer/Dryer Saga Continued

Well, it finally came – the brand-new replacement washer/dryer for my brand-new washer/dryer.

The replacement they installed for free (saving me the trouble), and I was amazed how they moved it in. Sadly, the pictures didn’t turn out as the flash freaked out on the reflective strip on their clothing.

Long/short of it, they used two pieces of thick, 3-inch webbing under the washer/dryer, and the two guys strapped it to themselves, lifted it and moved it into position. No handtruck with wheel marks on the floor, nothing. Yes, my washer/dryer is back, and working.

The previous error (that they replaced the machine for) was E2 – now, I’m getting an E4 error. Seriously, before I’ve finished my first load of laundry!

Went to the web and looked up the error codes – this one was basically, “water not hot enough”. It’s an evaporative drying system – they forgot to turn on the hot water supply line!

That fixed, I finally get this message on the display:

Only six more loads to go – and this machine can take the duvet cover that hadn’t been washed in a year.

Here is the baby in it’s home with the counter top and vacuum seal machine on top:

So nice that it showed up on Thursday, so I could host a dinner on Friday, which clean napkins. The rare five-person table:

Had to pull out the leaf and get both the extra chairs out of the closet. But this dinner was well worth it!

Pre-dinner cocktails, a magnum of bubbles with the dinner of Pickling Spice Shrimp Boil and some seriously spicy Asian Slaw and some seasoned rice to take the edge off.

It must have been the shrimp – or the late dinner wine that caused a scene:

Well, a scene in furs.

Off to work in the morning, pity me. At least the pile of laundry I didn’t get done in Denver and Berkeley is done.

[? ? ?]

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: Berkeley For Laundry & Good Times

With my washer/dryer still on the fritz, once again I’m checking two bags filled with dirty clothes. Sigh. On the upside, it’s supposed to be delivered and installed the day after I get back.

No upgrade on the way down, and I only had 80% of my seat due to a POS in the middle seat. POS is airline lingo for Person Of Size. And while Alaska (and Southwest) have very generous POS policies, this lady did not take advantage of the offer or possibly didn’t know about it. Here is their policy. In reading it, I learned something new. You can use your companion fare to purchase the second seat, and if there is one seat open, they refund the taxes/fees, and return the companion fare to your account. I’m not sure if she thought that a “Premium Seat” would be wider – it isn’t, just more knee room. Luckily, I know where the latch is to make the aisle seat armrest go up that that we were both (can’t speak for the person in the window) reasonable comfortable on our hour and a half flight. The same for a flight Jill and I took to Boston years ago where she was squished into the window, and I, the aisle as we were in row six, which has fixed arms that hold the tray tables. And this was before they had Premium Class with free booze, which might have made it better.

But, enough about that.

Onyx met me at the airport and we headed off the lunch as is the case when I arrive around 11. He usually hasn’t had food yet, and I’m usually hungry. Today’s restaurant choice was Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café where I had the Rueben (I usually can’t resist) with Cole Slaw, and Onyx had the Denver Omelet minus the bell peppers.

Did I mention Champagne Cocktails as well?

Rudy’s is in the old part of Emeryville – not the high-tech world of Pixar Studios down the road.

This visit is all about hiding out, hanging out, doing laundry, relaxing… and, of course, food. First night’s dinner:

Second day’s afternoon snack at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market up the street from the boys:

Second night’s dinner:

Usually I fly into Oakland and out of San Francisco (taking BART over), but when I booked this months ago, it was only $100.60 round-trip to Oakland and back. I’ll take a deal when I see it!

The reason from plying back out of SFO is that I love the Cathay Pacific lounge and its custom-made noodle bar. No lounge that I have access to in Oakland, but I might actually spring for this one on the next trip ($45, or free to American Express Platinum Cardholders, WOW Business Class, Azores Business Class) since I spent more than the entrance fee on a meal and two drinks.

Inside, before security I had a $25.00 Manhattan (shamefully expensive, but great other than the standard red cherries), and past security it was a couple of starters and a shot of Commenerativo.

Better to eat in the airport, and to subsist on drinks and the snack box on the plane:

Had lovely company in the middle seat on the return flight – everyone in a festive mood with the free cocktails.

The last of the mileage runs, for a bit. Was home by 10pm, in bed by midnight.

[? ? ?]

Leave a passing comment »

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: Midweek to Denver

When I planned this trip back in November as one of the final “Cyber Week Sale” flight, I didn’t think it would have a theme, just thought I’d be going to visit Dan and Lisa.

The new theme: Money, Laundering. Please note the comma.

Before we get to the Money portion, let me explain the “laundering” part. Exhibit A:

Exhibit A is an all-in-one ventless washer-dryer that I got in January to replace my first-generation model that lasted 13 years. The new one worked WAY better than the old one, having clothes come out warm rather with a little dampness like the old one. Well, it worked better when it worked – got less than ten loads out of it before it locked the door, gave me an error code, and forced me to call warranty service (GE Appliance Repair). Called on a Saturday morning, and they were out Monday morning (a longer service window than I would have like 8am to noon). Sadly, he needed two possible defective parts…which as it turns out, the control board was on backorder…until April 3rd. This saga played out over about three weeks whilst I was in Hawaii first, then 10 days in Europe.

As of Thursday, we have resolution. They are sending me a brand-new machine, installing it, and taking the dead one away. I think it would have been cheaper for then to air freight in the control board from China. Install date will HOPEFULLY be Thursday/Friday/Saturday of next week before I leave for another 10-day trip. I’m trying to push most of my travel to the beginning of the year when business is lighter.

What all of this means is that I’ve been without clean laundry for weeks now – and why I packed two bags of dirty clothes to visit Dan and Lisa and borrow their washer-dryer.

But back to Denver – Lisa was a doll and picked me (and my laundry) up at the airport, after my ride-to-the-airport scare of forgetting my laptop bag and less time that usual before my light.

On the upside, at least I’d gotten the upgrade to First Class, so there was food on board:

Think sort of a Southwest-style breakfast plate served in my favorite seat (1C). The stress of the airport run led me to order several vodka-cranberry doubles.

Once we got back to their house way north of the airport, those double led to nap time. Like a three-hour nap! The joys of holidaying.

The evening plan was dinner for five, we were joined by another couple around the dining table for “Instant Pot” pork belly, bok choy, and potato salad. Sadly, the only picture I have of dinner is of the bottle of Bonny Doon Le Cigaré Volant from 2008:

It worked quite well with the richness of the pork belly. Green and Black Organic Chocolates from the Alaska Lounge was dessert for several of us. Others had ice cream.

Even with the nap, I was in bed early – and oddly, UP EARLY. This has been happening for the last couple of nights since returning from Europe last week. Gave me time to get some work done in the morning before we headed into town to hook up with DancingBear, who was flying out to Denver on a mileage run combined with lunch with Dan and I, and a tour of the U.S. Mint.

We met up at the train station since there is a direct link to the airport – and grabbed a table (after swinging by the mint to get tickets for the 2PM tour) at Stoic & Genuine – where I’ve eaten before and can best describe as, “top-notch”, and “not-cheap”. With tip, $145 for lunch and drinks for three.

The lunch:

Maker’s Mark Old Fashioned for DancingBear, a Nigroni for me, Haut Toddy (which was actually a Star Wars themed cold drink) for Dan.

Nice, open, airy place with a cute bartender (you’d have to zoom in). And superb food, like my (and Dan’s) fish (cod) and chips…

And DancingBears Diver Scallops on Beat Salad…

Portions were not huge, but excellent quality.

Mint tour wasn’t until two, so we had time to kill at the train station – which is a great place to hang out and watch people:

Got to the mint at the required 1:30pm for our 2pm tour…to find us last in line to go through a very thorough security (cell phones off, no purses, backpacks, knives)…

No pictures allowed inside, so, here is the entrance:

DancingBear hit the gift shop for coinage sets for his collector Mom, and back to the station to drop him off before heading back north to make a liquor store run for me to pack in all that clean laundry.

Dinner my last night was pan-fried steaks with some more of bok choy from last night – not a fancy the pork belly, but just as tasty (and there will be leftover steak to go in the morning scramble).

Sadly, I wasn’t there for the scramble – I had a 9:45AM flight which put us in rush hour traffic to the airport – don’t know why I booked this particular flight (must have been cheap, which it was at $150 r/t), but I’ll know two things for future trips:

  • Arrive and leave mid-day
  • Two nights isn’t really enough

No upgrade on the way back, and a completely full airplane, but I was sitting in a row of partiers, so we all had a great time.

Home and a nap.


For more blog entries: CLICK HERE.


Comments Off on Trip Report: Midweek to Denver

Leave a Reply

Mar '18

Trip Report: LHR-LAX-SEA

One of the advantages of staying in Hounslow is that it’s four stops from Heathrow, meaning a short commute. It also helps that my flight isn’t until 1:10pm.

Got to the airport in plenty of time – to search out Sobraine cigarettes in Cocktail Colours…sadly, once I found the Duty-Free Cigarette section, they didn’t stock them, BUT they did hide the cigarettes from public view in a tiny room:

Canada also hides cigarette products from public display.

A decent lounge to hang out in at Heathrow:

A little food, a couple of drinks, some newspapers, and before I knew it, it was time to board my flight to Los Angeles…

Plenty of room to stretch out up here in Business Class.

About 45 minutes into the flight, the parade of food begins – hot nuts, cocktails, and watching Oscar-nominated Three Billboards!

Then onto the salad course. It was nice to have the more drawn out service that a ten-and-a-half-hour flight allows.

And then the Main Course:

And let’s not forget dessert!

While the bathroom wasn’t as nice as the double-side on the long-retired SAS flight from Seattle to Stockholm flight, this one wasn’t too bad:

Time to try and get a little sleep in my lay flat bed:

I got a little sleep, but you are still bouncing around on an airplane.

Before landing, lunch showed up:

All the food was pretty tasty!

Made it through customs/immigration in one piece, and it was off to the Admirals Club at LAX. Turns out there are THREE levels of service in Terminal 4 – the Admirals Club, which I could get in using my Alaska Board Room card, the Flagship Lounge (where I got to go) because I was on an international Business Class ticket, and a First Class Lounge which I saw glances of. I’m happy enough with the Flagship Lounge and their massive food offerings:

It’s also really nice to have a shower after a long trip, when you have another couple of hours of flying ahead of you:

Oh, did I mention the custom Pho stand? That’s what I had since I wasn’t really hungry from the overseas flight:

Or the pour it yourself bar with half a dozen whiskies?

Sort of hard to leave this luxury and get back on a plane – but that’s what I did, to be rewarded with a broken seat next to me…

And the food parade begins again…

The amusing part was that the roll on the two-hour flight was warmed – but on the 10-hour-plus flight, they didn’t warm the roll. With a little Snickerdoodle for dessert:

And then if was grab the luggage from the carousel, hail a ride home, and collapse into bed.

Another vacation completed.

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: LHR-LAX-SEA

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: London

In my usual lazy travel way, I choose one major thing to do each day – and today, that would be the Beefeater Gin Distillery!

Since the printer at the “business center” (one computer and a broken printer) was dead – I just took a photograph of the GoogeMaps page to find my way:

It was amazingly easy to find (after yesterday’s hour tromp around Hounslow).

I had a reservation for the noon tour, but got in on the 11:30 – and this distillery you could take photos, just no flash. I had time to chill in the gift shop whilst waiting:

The tour started in a self-guided history of Gin and Beefeaters that was WAY too much time, though if there was a group of 20, I could see the reason.

And then we were onto the real tour:

Liquor safes and a very pretty tour participant.

And the ORIGINAL still from the 1860’s, brought back to life to do their small batch specialty runs.

And then, what we were all waiting for!

Turns out our tour guide used to be the bartender at the Plymouth Gin Distillery I toured last week!

Discovered this (and a giant Tesco grocery store) on the stroll back to the tube station:

Yep, that would be the London Eagle – a gay leather bar. Since it doesn’t open until 9PM, no reason to wait around. Lots of cities around the world (including Seattle) have gay leather bars called The Eagle.

There were street stalls set up a couple of blocks from the hotel – and I had lunch from one of the food stands:

Complete with fruit stands, clothing stands, Polish honey stands:

My lunch – chicken over vegetarian noodles:

In the background you can see the Poundland (think Dollar store) that was closing that location so everything was 25% off – making it, with the exchange rate, one US dollar. Over the course of the visit, I was in there three times finding more things to fill the suitcase.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Hounslow is a long-term immigrant neighborhood, right down to the Transylvanian grocery store next to the Polish restaurant:

These days most of the residents are from the Middle East and India.

For breakfast the final day I went to one of the local pubs – which seem to all feature “British Pub Food” and some Indian/Asian menu:

I went for the full English breakfast for $GB 4.95.

That’s a lot of food! And it definitely was a pub:

My plan had been to tour the Sipsmith Gill Distillery today – but when I went to book, their tour was expensive ($GB 25) and didn’t start until 6:30 in the evening. Instead I wondered around the neighborhood for the afternoon.

Speaking of pubs, looked in the window of this historic “bandit” pub – which also served Thai food, but decided against it for dinner:

Opted for the Polish restaurant, only to find that they were cash only – and while it smelled great in there, the patrons thought I’d just landed from Mars. Instead I just said “fuck it” and went to the restaurant in the lobby of the hotel.

And boy was I surprised! The meal started out with one of the best Negronis I have ever had, complete with sour apple slice and blueberries:

I didn’t need a ton of food, so I just opted for the Mixed Grill starter:

Which turned out to be amazing.

Not bad for my last supper in London.

In the morning it’s back to The States and work.


For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: London

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: London, Getting There

It was a reasonable 11am train north from Plymouth to London…time to stop by the shops for a snack for onboard…and onto the train I go:

Plymouth station was modern in 1961, not so much now – more Soviet-era Brutalist. But the boys saw me off at the platform!

And plenty of room on the train for me and my snacks…

That would be a Hoison Duck wrap (no mayo, so even though they say refrigerate, not that necessary).

Love the European train system— at least on this network, when I booked the trip the day before, they gave me a lovely little printout of my train changes:

It runs on time, or if it doesn’t, they tell you, and it’s less than 5 minutes off:

The travel time to Reading was quick, only a couple of stops in route, but to get me to Hounslow, it was two milk runs basically stopping at every stop. But I got there. Didn’t miss a connection.

Speaking on connections, my last connection was on a brand new Siemens rail car – so new it gave me a slight headache from the out-gassing from the new plastic materials:

Upon arrival in Hounslow I realized a big “oops”. I was at the Hounslow TRAIN station, not one of the three Hounslow TUBE stations.

I arrived at the lower one, needed to be at the upper one – which was a block from my hotel. Should have grabbed a cab – instead I wandered for an hour (or maybe should have asked where the hell to go). Should have been a 15-minute max walk. Live. Learn. Ask directions.

Arrived at the Ramada Inn Hounslow:

Mine would be the one on the left, not the Travelodge rounded one. Got checked into my “Executive Room”, which was UKP$5 more per night than a regular:

Being a member of the Wyndham Rewards Program, they give you a little starter bag – mine contained these:

And they have a bar downstairs, so I can get a “bucket of ice” – another picture to add to my collection of what hotels around the world call a “bucket of ice”. Yep, that’s a white wine bottle cooler.:

Hounslow is an immigrant-based neighborhood, fairly close to Heathrow as you can see in this shot:

After my wondering around, I needed to get off my feet, more than I needed a “fine dining” situation, so I just grabbed a box of Hallal Chicken from CKC. Apparently, they don’t use DHL as their shipper (that’s in reference to previous posts about the KFC debacle going on – STILL – in Britain during my visit):

They are a chain, and here is the two-piece with chips version:

The chicken is at the bottom.

I’ll close this post with one of the “oddities” of British life, the distrust of their electrical system, hence, the phrase, “Lucas, Prince of Darkness”. There are yearly inspection stickers for EVERY piece of electrical equipment in the room:

And, of course, switches on EVERY outlet. So odd (by American standards).

Tomorrow is another day.

[? ? ?]

For more posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: London, Getting There

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Plymouth, England

Too bloody early to out of bed and into a cab headed to the airport. Made earlier by the lack of a lounge at Dublin that I had privileges for. Breakfast was lunch here, though I didn’t go for the beer option:

My hope for sleep on the short hop to Newquay was for naught…

Noisy buggers, those ATR42’s…

It was an hour plus hop…

We were running a bit early, beat Ovenden since it’s a 45-minute drive from Plymouth.

We did a bunch of shopping on the way back to the house – where I turned in for a couple of hour nap. I’ve been napping a lot on this trip, even after the time zone difference. Maybe the last seven weeks of flights have caught up with me!

Tonight is dinner out to celebrate Ovenden’s soon to be ex-boyfriend whom he still lives with and is heading to the Canary Islands with on Tuesday (the joys of non-refundable fares).

Not that you can tell from the picture, but that is Rock Salt. Service was spotty considering the place wasn’t totally full, and they were out of the starter we wanted, and our first choice for wine. Not a good start to dinner with starving people.

I LOVE the cute guy behind us popping into the picture!

I started with monkfish scampi, Adam went for some chicken appetizer, Ovenden for the surprisingly good breads and spreads platter. That said, they were all good.

For the main, I went for the venison (lovely),

and the boys went for steaks (also lovely, since they gave me a bite).

I got to start using the flash! Tasted way better than the pictures.

One of the funny things about my trip to Plymouth is that Adam, Ovenden’s soon to be something, works at Kentucky Fried Chicken – which is going through some chicken delivery issues, which even eventually hit even the USA Today. He kept calling in to work, they kept saying, “not yet.” Unpaided furlough it seems. But here is the sign from one of the 450 stores shuttered throughout England.

Over the next couple of days, we explored (well, re-explored, since I’ve been here before) the city. Not sure why all the pictures look gray, other than it was gray all the days, with occasional drizzle. Now, WHY did I leave the gray way of Seattle?

And up to Plymouth Hoe we go…

Even when we eat in, we eat well, and apparently, quickly, since all I got was smeared plates!

My last day in town, off to the Plymouth Gin Distillery we go – sadly, no photos of the facility itself (except for the bar), so this is from Wikipedia:

It was a good tour, worth doing again (as I have in the past), and learned some new things, Ovenden connected with an old friend, and we got a free gin and tonic in the Refectory Bar:

After our drinks, it was off to find a place to eat, which because of a closed bridge, we have to take a two-minute ferry to our restaurant, Rockfish:

Where the fish was GREAT! And the portions HUGE! And the waiter was a GINGERCUB! But first, a half-price Bloody Mary…

Ovenden went for the Monkish and Salad:

I went for the Line-caught Haddock and Chips:

Our final meal at the house was a dinner of Partridge Breasts – things you don’t find often in the states:

What a wonderful place to hang out for a few days. Next time I won’t wait 15 years to return.

[? ? ?]

For more posts, CLICK HERE.

1 Comment »

One Response to “Trip Report: Plymouth, England”

  1. Mark O Says:

    Lovely to see you after so long. Always a welcome guest!

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Dublin

It may have been a lay flat bed in Business to get here, but it’s still an overnight flight, and I don’t sleep well on planes without help (Scotch and Ambien).

Chatted with Mindi, had a little toast, kicked off my shoes, threw my feet up onto the couch, and I was out for five hours.

Jeff got home around 2:30 in the afternoon from prison (he was on some group visit) and tried rousting me – it didn’t work. Got up in time for cocktails!

Jeff and I popped out for supplies before they started whipping up dinner (bangers and mash), and we must have been having fun because the food pics I have start in the morning with a scramble made from eggs and leftover bangers, along with potato pancakes from the leftover mash:

In the past, I’ve been the one doing the cooking – but apparently my skills have rubbed off on them.

Dinner was a lovely roast…

A humorous photo of their microwave – which housed the butter, sugar, and other things that their raucous cat Marvin tends to knock to the floor, and or eat.

Had Jeff not suggested a distillery tour on my final day in Dublin, might not have left the neighborhood – the goal being “catching up” rather than “seeing the sites”.

We even had a version of a Caesar (a Bloody Mary made with Clamato), though it was Gin rather than Vodka for our pre-distillery meal.

Off to the distillery we go!

The Teeling Distillery is the first new distillery to be built in Dublin proper in 125 years. AND we have a hipster tour guide (Rory):

Lovely way to spend a bit of the afternoon, especially when it comes with a big tasting at the end:

An odd sign on our route home:

And some interesting products in the grocery:

Had a bit of a nap before dinner, and started clearing out some of Jeff’s whiskies that only had a bit left…one from Ireland:

One from Germany:

And one from India:

The final dinner of my visit was a Chicken Picata made with green olives rather than capers (because that’s what we had) and carrots sautéed in butter and Christmas spices with a little Drambuie:

A wonderful meal to finish a visit.

Tomorrow, off very early for the next leg.

[? ??]

Comments Off on Trip Report: Dublin

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Dublin Bound

Off again – this time on a 10-day holiday. That would be LONG for me. Off to Ireland and England to visit friends and maybe explore a new thing or two.

And for those of you with questions about why I book all those “mileage runs”, it’s so I can use my miles to fly my international trips sitting up front.

But first, I have to get there – two chunks: Seattle to Philadelphia in Alaska First, then Philadelphia to Dublin in American Business.

Settled in with my Tablet and cocktails.

Followed by breakfast….


Long layover in Philadelphia, where I found a Lego Liberty Bell…

…on the way to the Admirals Club to enjoy some scratch-made guacamole (and booze, and soup).

Soon enough, onto the red-eye flight to Dublin…

That would be the Cole Haan Amenity Kit.

And then the food service starts…

Later, I had them fire up the espresso machine for an espresso and Amaretto. Wish I’d have gotten a better picture:

Before I put the lay flat bed in the lounger position to watch a couple of 80’s movies, including fast times at Ridgemont High.

Only a six-hour flight, so before you know it, MORE FOOD – in the form of breakfast!

I’d requested Champagne with my breakfast…and since I was the only one, they just left the bottle with me!

Even managed to get a picture of the crew rest area on this Airbus A330:

Sadly, I didn’t get through the bottle…it was still there AFTER we landed, still with a quarter to a third of a bottle left. Guess I needed help to finish it.

Time to grab a cab and head to Jeff and Mindi’s place in the city.

More tomorrow.

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: Dublin Bound

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Status Report: Going For Gold

Just like the Olympics, I’m going for the Gold and achieved success!

Now all I need is another 34,256 miles to keep my MVP Gold 75K status through 2019.

[?? ?]

To see more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Status Report: Going For Gold

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Hawaii – Part Three

Our final day on Oahu finds me sleeping in again, and Rache exploring. This pattern works well for us.

Our morning chore is to get out of the room by noon and get to the airport to pick up our rental car for our island tour – which looked something like this:

We added a couple of stops, like the cemetery at Punch Bowl:

This would be between Waikiki and stop number two on the map, the Pali Lookout, where it was windy as hell!

Next, we backtracked on the map to see the view from Hanuama Bay, which was closed to swimming because of tidal action. On the map, it’s at the lower right hand corner:

Then headed up the windward side of the island:

We made a quick stop and L&L BBQ, where I had the Kaluai Pork Sandwich:

I’d hoped to make it all the way to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – but I couldn’t hold out, hunger-wise. When we finally made it there, we split a garlic shrimp:

After that, it was a couple of stops at famous surfing beaches on the North Shore:

Again, lots of chop on the water, so not many surfers with all the orange flags up.

We made it back to the airport with four plus hours before out flight, which we needed because Rache’s phone rang as we were about to return the rental car. Someone had found his wallet under the picnic table at Giovanni’s. They’d tracked down his brother, who called his neighbor, who went over to have his roommates call and tell him. Amazing detective work by a mother/daughter team staying out by Turtle Bay (beyond Giovannis).

Forty-five minutes back to the North Shore, a wallet reunion, forty-five minutes back to the airport, more gas in the car before returning it.

I don’t think this much stuff has gone missing on a trip, EVER!

We still had time to chill in the American/Japan Airlines Lounge before our flight – but not as much as I’d planned.

Heavy on the ramen…

But the bathrooms had heated toilet seats with water!

It was a red-eye flight home. Sadly, no upgrade to first, but we were in Premium, and I managed to get some sleep.

Gotta work the next two days. Sigh.


For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: Hawaii – Part Three

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Hawaii – Part Two

This morning I get to sleep in…until 10 – it feels SOOOOOOOOO good. Rache is out discovering the city. The plan is to meet back up at noon latest so we can get to our afternoon mission.

What did Rache do with his usual early rising? Explore Waikiki? Nope. He grabbed an Uber to Pearl Harbor and snagged a ticket to the 8:45am tour, leaving his enough time to explore some of the other exhibits.

I don’t have his pictures, so I grabbed one from their site:

I did the tour many years ago, and more recently, Rich (while he was alive) did the Aviation Museum at Ford Island. Sobering is how I describe the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It reminds me that I should revisit – through you really do need to get there before the tour busses arrive.

We met back up at the hotel, and headed out to grab some lunch at Aloha Sushi which is a block or so away, nothing fancy, but not that expensive either:

While they look like they are pre-made, they are made to order, and placed into standard containers.

Next up is a tour of the Hawaii State Capitol led by Rick, but we had a little bit of time to kill, so here’s what is on the grounds:

Soon, we are on the tour!

There were some great mountain views from inside the open atrium:

After the tour it was off for a little stroll past the Iolani Palace

Ending up at the Supreme Court building of Hawaii

After no security at the Capitol, we had to go through metal detectors set to “useless” to get into the building:

Complete with 1930’s courtroom:

And displays about WWII, including internment of residents and other topics:

Having our history lesson for the day it was off for cocktails and snacks at Tiki’s, which overlooked the beach:

And on the way out, a most lovely restroom sign:

We walked back to the hotel passing the DUKE statue on the beach:

Rick joined us for cocktails after he got off work, and well into the evening. Quiet night at the hotel, other than the clinking of ice.


For more blog post, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: Hawaii – Part Two

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Trip Report: Hawaii – Part One

When is a mileage run more than a mileage run – when you actually go someplace warm for a couple of days.

This was supposed to be surprise trip number two for Rache – amusingly spoiled by the TSA agent that said, “Have fun in Hawaii.” So much for THAT surprise. Rache still didn’t know the island until we got to the gate. Stopped at a couple of the lounges along the way for food and drink since we didn’t get upgraded to First, we were merely in Premium (extra knee room, snack box, free booze).

Uneventful flight and our driver was waiting for us even though our flight was about half an hour early…but hungry we were, and it was almost 11pm by the time we checked in. Off to Wailana Coffee House for us.

The place has all the charm of a Denny’s, which other than some bamboo accents, seems to be what it was at some point. Oddly, cash only.

The $4.50 drink special was a Mai Tai – which can often be WAY too sweet. Blessedly, this wasn’t the case, and it was amazingly good!

That would be Beaumont the Basset — Rache’s travel companion (other than me).

We split a Rueben, which was the perfect amount of food, though the sandwich was a little thin, and the fries a little soggy. Maybe we should have just had another cocktail and call it done. Instead, we poked our head into the Karaoke bar attached:

Heavy on the Tiki!

We both stayed up too late – me longer than Rache, considering we have a plan for Tuesday, a 10:30am tour of the Kamaka Ukulele Factory.

This was probably my fifth tour, sometimes by myself, often with travel mates. It really is an interesting tour, which these days is started by the 91-year-old son of the founder:

With the history out of the way, it was time for one of the grandsons of the founder to take us out into the plant:


The tour runs about an hour and is offered at 10:3am, Tuesday through Friday. It must be popular because it used to only be offered on Tuesdays. And as you can see, Kamaka Ukuleles are not cheap – and there is at least a two-month wait for one since they are all custom made.

After the tour off we went in search of The Salvation Army, which I was having a hard time locating on an Uber map – but knew how to get there, but not before we ended up at a closed store miles away. Our driver took us the rest of the way for cash. Nice Mercedes S-class ride:

I snagged some glassware and six Tommy Bahama shirts (average cost was $12.25 each), of which five fit, and I’ll find someone for the other.

Needing food, we tried to eat at Liliha Bakery, but they were out of fried chicken (which we both wanted), and more importantly, panic set in when I discovered I’d left my phone in the Uber. Further panic when we realized that Uber’s Help System was offline. Nothing to do but head back to the hotel and get some food to calm my nerves.

Goofy Café and Dine was the choice:

I went for the Pork Belly Eggs Benedict, Rache went for the Grilled Shrimp:

Of course, there were nerve calming cocktails. Here is a picture that Rache took of Grumpy at Goofy:

The remainder of the afternoon was spent fretting, checking to see if Uber Help was back up, changing passwords on any apps on the phone that auto-logged in….

Around seven we headed to a Gay Karaoke Dive Bar in Waikiki which is on a hard to find pedestrian alley:

This was when a miracle happened. We got a call from our Uber driver who had my phone! He needed to finish a ride but agreed to bring it to the bar. Uber has a $15 lost item return fee, and I gave him a $20 tip – so happy to have it back.

The plan was to meet my friend Rick for drinks for happy hour which lasted until eight – he was running late, so we finally met at a noodle place instead:

We had three appetizers and split a noodle bowl:

After our dinner, we all went back to the bar where I was able to get a pic or two:

Another late night for both of us!

Tomorrow, I’ll post about our next day in sunny Waikiki.


For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: Hawaii – Part One

Leave a Reply

Feb '18

Mileage Run Report: RDU, RDU, JFK

A quick post before I go off to work for the weekend. This week was another “mileage-run week”, which started off with a bit of a hiccup…

The plane was there…and we were all boarded…and then we were unloaded due to a mechanical problem with the bathroom. So, there was a delay…

And sent to another gate at the end of C Concourse, and then BACK to our original Gate (N1) – to get back on the same plane we got off of, however, with a new lavatory. Yes, they did a toilet swap.

We were over two hours late getting out – good tailwind, so we made up an hour, but it turns out our plane wasn’t doing a simple turn at RDU – it was going in for a heavy maintenance check.

Thankfully they held the plane for the EIGHT people, like me, who were doing mileage runs – and FOUR of us took up the entire Row 1 on the return flight. But we had a brand-new interior – look at the carpet!

Yep, got off the plane, walked over to the gate next door, and was onboard in minutes – guessing they held if for us since none of the eight had luggage.

Got home later than I expected – around 10:30 – fixed a drink, watched a little TV, went to bed because I’m up at the crack of dawn (again) to return to RDU.

But this time I had COMPANY. DancingBear did the Wednesday turn with me, and we were both upgraded!

That’s a picture from the Admiral’s Club at RDU – with another tailwind, we had time to walk to the other end of the terminal for a quick drink and a cup or two of soup. Not we hadn’t eaten on the way out.

Turns out, the plane we came in on, was headed elsewhere other than returning to Seattle:

Looks like IT’S going in for a C Check as well in Greensboro (this is a 10-year or so major event). You won’t find THAT flight number in their database.

Seems like they are doing a bunch of overhauls at their maintenance facilities. http://www.mro-network.com/maintenance-repair-overhaul/alaska-airlines-haeco-americas-spend-100-million-facilities

Flight home was on-time so it was quicker than last night since DancingBear just picked me up and we left the car at the airport.

Final mileage run of the week was a surprise for Rache, but not to DancingBear who was also joining us. Surprise for Rache in that he didn’t know where we were going until we got to the boarding gate for our redeye. Gave me time during the day to actually pick up the new washer/dryer combo I’d ordered weeks ago, and just for shits and giggles picked up a 32-bottle wine cooler for the living room:

Man, it’s nice having a car that can haul shit! With Rache’s help, got the boxes wrestled into the house, and even got the washer/dryer installed!

Yes, it’s all-in-one wash, dry, sadly, it doesn’t fold the clothes. Didn’t get as far with the wine cooler installation:

Returned to the airport around 7PM, and DancingBear got us into the Centurion Lounge, which Rache hadn’t been to – and it really does have better food/drink than the Alaska Lounge:

That would be DancingBear’s Old Fashioned, and my Manhattan (with Luxardo Cherries).

We were separated on the plane – originally, we’d all been in row 8 on the way out (DancingBear in 8A, me in 8C, and Rache in 8D), but Rache and I got upgraded, sadly not so for DancingBear, but it’s a red-eye, so mostly sleep.

As both Rache and DancingBear will tell you, I don’t sleep really well on planes, though on the way back I was so exhausted from the redeye that I did manage to get some. And went to bed as soon as we were home.

Sort of odd to have two free afternoons in a week of mileage runs – but it did give me time to start on the MOUNTAIN of laundry that had piled up in the month that my washing machine had been dead:

Loads take in the three-hour range, but since it’s a combo, you don’t have to move them over! I love the various options and the display that tells you the time it will take with your options:

Though you can really tell it – got the shelf done that sits on the washer/dryer – and even got the new wine cooler installed!

It’s probably time to replace the massive amplifier that feeds the ten speakers spread around my tiny 800 square foot house. But that’s a project for another day.

In case you were keeping track, by the time these miles posts, I’ll be at 35,442 flight miles for the years. After next weeks’ vacation (yes, I’m staying someplace for a bit), I’ll be at Alaska MVP Gold through 2019.

[228.0] YIKES!

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Mileage Run Report: RDU, RDU, JFK

Leave a Reply

Jan '18

Trip Report: Hiding Out In Berkeley For A Couple Of Days

After a week of work and crazy travel, I’m taking off a couple of days to visit the boys in Berkeley.

I was pleasantly surprised the morning of my flight to get an upgrade after checking in last night, but before heading out to the airport – means I’ll eat less in the lounge before the flight.

And it was a good breakfast considering it was a 2 hour flight:

The yellow stuff is a sliced egg salad – went on the warm croissant with the lettuce and actually ripe Roma tomatoes.

After my week of flying I set up my computer at Mark and Onyx’s place, and tucked in for a three-hour nap – which I seriously needed.

This trip is all about hiding away in Berkeley for a couple days so I can catch up on the blog, and more importantly work on my taxes.

Well, that, and stocking up the suitcase with Bourbon for the return, and enjoying some FINE meals out of their kitchen.

The first night was bacon-wrapped filets with roasted potatoes and a lovely Peruvian Tannat that I brought with me from Seattle:

The next (and final) night Onyx made these massive meatballs to go with a wee bit of pasta and a lot of peas! The meatballs are a day-long preparation in the crock pot and are the size of a hardball baseball – but much tastier.

I did get my tax preparation done for both the shop and my own business – so mission accomplished. And on the flight down I made Alaska MVP status through 2019.

Lunetta ran me to the BART station hours before my flight so I could hang out in the Cathy Pacific Lounge while they still had their noodle station open:

Sadly, I got their at 10:30am and they started shutting down noodles at 10:45 and the hot food was taken away by 11am – I got a round of noodles and two hot plates:

That said – it is a nice lounge:

After the hot food went away, it was just green and pasta salads – fortunately the left the bar out!

The current downside to flying Alaska out of SFO is that they are spread between two terminals – that aren’t connection behind security. While I have access to most American Lounges, it doesn’t include the one in SFO since there were too many Alaska people using it (and it’s the terminal with the domestic Alaska flights). So, after the food, it’s back to the other side of security, catch the train to Terminal 2, then go back through screening.

At least there is a great bookstore in Terminal Two – Compass Books, which always has a good selection of “remaindered” books:

They also have this great “typewriters through the ages” exhibit as well:

Before I knew it, I was back in my comfy seat with a snack in front of me:

Hours later I was home in time to make myself a little dinner – for tomorrow I’m working the shop.

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Trip Report: Hiding Out In Berkeley For A Couple Of Days

Leave a Reply

Jan '18

Mileage Run Report: JFK, PDX, RDU, RDU

More road warriors end up doing mileage runs at the end of the year to get/keep airline status to get free upgrades to the “land of warm salty nuts”. I prefer to load up my account at the beginning of the year, booking TONS of flight when Alaska puts most of their destinations (except sunny ones) on sale for January/February/early March.

Last years “mileage run city of the year” was Boston, which cost me $235 round-trip and is a lot of flight miles, and frequent flyer miles, as Alaska is the last major airline in the US to award miles based on flight miles, rather than the cost of your ticket. What do I do with all those frequent flyer miles? Occasionally I give them away as Christmas presents, but mostly I use them to fly business class to Europe (coming up in February) and Southeast Asia (coming up in March). This year’s “mileage run city of the year” is Raleigh-Durham at $190.80 round-trip. And, no, I’m not even spending the night to explore the city – although I understand it’s a quite lovely place.

First leg of these runs is from SEA to JFK – where I got upgraded to First:

Since it’s a red-eye, it’s not the nicest inflight service, food wise:

The “meal” is a “Protein Plate”, which reminds me of the phrase that my grandmother’s “home” used “Protein Loaf”.

But, I did manage to get a little sleep on the flight after watching a movie and a little TV.

Early arrival at JFK – with enough layover time to explore the airport, specifically the 60’s icon TWA terminal:

Which, if you look closely to the right – they are building a 500-room hotel (TWA Hotel) opening in 2019. Here are some better daylight pictures of what will become the hotel lobby:

Other sightings at the airport – a line of Nissan NV200 taxicabs:

And a faux Tiki Lounge:

Speaking of lounges – I hoofed it over to the Admiral’s Club the next terminal over:

Where I spotted one of the American Airlines “history” paint jobs – from all the carriers that they gobbled up over the years, this one, AirCal:

But soon enough, it was back onto a plane bound for PDX with much better inflight food. The salad:

Which was followed by your choice of ravioli with pesto (which I had), or the Trident cod over Jasmine rice,

Followed by cheesecake:

Got to PDX early afternoon and headed to the lounge to see if I could get on an earlier flight home to SEA. I had been upgraded to First, but was willing to let it go for the less than an hour flight to get home five hours early. Even had time for a little clam chowder and Treveri Rose Bubbles!

Portland is a great airport (except that the Lounge doesn’t have a full liquor license), including a movie theatre:

And a pop-up wine store:

Made it home in one piece – so that I could work at the wine shop Saturday and Sunday, because, wait for it, because Monday I’m headed to RDC. Got an upgrade at the gate to Seat 1A:

Which means it came with breakfast, which I had them hold for a bit since I’d filled up in the Lounge, and I needed sleep more than food.

It was a quick turnaround at the airport — 40 minutes until boarding – no time to get the lounge which is at the other end of the airport. Before you knew it, there was more food (and drink) being served. This time I went for the Trident Cod after the salad:

Basically, it was a 12-hour flight day, plus a couple of hours on the front to get from my house, and some on the end to Lyft back home…all, so I could do it again in the morning, sadly in coach.

Upside is that I was travelling with DancingBear, who got us into a different lounge at SEA, the American Express Centurion Lounge:

The two of us suffering in coach for five hours:

At least we were in Premium Class with free cocktails and a snack box which didn’t keep either of us from ordering the Tom Douglas Kitchen’s Breakfast Sandwich made with Beecher’s Cheeses. Not bad for $5 – and if was super-hot temperature-wise. Sadly, it was gone before I had a chance to get a picture of it.

We were much happier on the way back in seats 1D and 1F – DancingBear loves a window seat, I love the aisle, so it all works out:

As for our dinners – it’s the same menu on most of the long-haul domestic routes in First – did you want the Pasta (me) or the Fish (DancingBear).

When we arrived back to SEA, we were at the end of the C Terminal, so I took us to the lounge to grab chocolates for the flight crews (my habit to repack them eight to a small zip lock bag). And since we are in the Lounge, why not have a nightcap!

Well, that’s the end of the “just for miles” trips in the last week, for I’m home for 12 hours before heading to the Bay Area in the morning. Fun fact — about 350 miles into the return from RDU, I hit the half-million mark on Alaska Lifetime Flight Miles. Sadly, it doesn’t even get me a thank you card.

[? ? ?]

For more blog posts, CLICK HERE.

Comments Off on Mileage Run Report: JFK, PDX, RDU, RDU

Leave a Reply