Monday, January 30, 2012

Last Friday

Well, last Friday produced no blog entry. It was kind of a busy day. We spent the work hours finishing up the week long meeting with the Gold Badges. I then headed down to Oakland sitting in just a little bit of traffic. I checked into the hotel, returned the car then got everything ready for the next day's travel. I never got around to posting an entry.

The week was good. We talked about a lot of issues and made lots of good decisions. I had some good workouts and actually went running three times and I haven't been on a good run in months.

The trip home was much better then the trip out and I was home by dinner time. Yesterday was a relaxing day. We went over to the club and I played a few games of wallyball for a good workout.

I took today off to finish my recharge and had a little fire in the woods with Ginger. We had some sushi for lunch and I will be heading to the gym soon for an all around workout.

Let's see what I can post this Friday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Amazing Race without the Prize

The Adventure of Travel – 1300 PST in the air somewhere over the Rocky Mountains

Every time I hit the road, or in this case the air, it has the potential to become an adventure. I really like adventure and just like I always look for opportunities to use my survival skills and kit, I will usually spin my situation in a positive light. Of course, I have to do a few calculations to ensure my plans aren’t completely put into a tail spin, but I like a change in agenda from time to time. Today’s trip has been just that.

I arose at 0600 on a Saturday to get a few things done, eat some breakfast and head on out to the airport for a 0845 flight to Oakland with a connection through Salt Lake City. It has been snowing lightly when I left the fitness club last night after the Wallyball league matches. This morning had about an inch of snow on the ground covered in a nice layer of ice and sleet. The road didn’t look too bad and when I got off the side streets and on to the highway, it was just salted wetness.

Everything went well at BWI. I parked my car at PreFlight and arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare. I got through security easily and made my way to the gate. Our plane arrived on time from its prior city and we boarded on time. At that point things started to go South. It seems we had to wait for a couple late comers then there was a wait to get the wings treated (which is something I wouldn’t have foregone), and we were finally in the air about 50 minutes late. I saw this as a possible problem as my layover in Salt Lake was only 30 minutes. There are times when my next fight is delayed for whatever reason, so I wasn’t too worried, but you never know.

When we were about 40 minutes when the flight crew announced that the Oakland flight was going to be leaving on time. I wouldn’t be on it. We got in about 1230 local time and I went to the gate desk. They had new boarding passes for me for a flight that went through LAX. I would be arriving in Oakland after 1630, so now I know how I will be killing the time from arrival to check in at the barracks. I would have rather been in Petaluma and doing some shopping or exploring, but it doesn’t matter. I go with the flow and for now, the flow is still taking me west to my destination. I just get to fly over a lot of the state of California before I get to where I’m going, where I will then get my car and head north to the wine country. The adventure continues…

And continue it did. After we landed in LA and were taxiing to the gate, I turned on my phone and checked the status of my next flight. Cancelled!

Once again I headed to the gate counter to see what was next and by now I started to recognize a couple and an older lady who were going through the same ordeal as me. As we waited our turn I made the comment that became the title of this post. It felt like we were stuck in a episode of the Amazing Race, but there were no cameras and no prize at the end. I was starting to get the feeling that I needed to get that last seat on the plane before they do...

But, it turned out to not be as dramatic. I did have a bit of serendipity while boarding the last leg of the flight. My beautiful A boarding pass had transformed into an end of the Bs boarding pass. This last flight was a full flight, so that probably meant sitting in a middle seat and maybe even having to have my luggage checked. As I made my way back towards the very end of the plane, where I saw a few still open bins, the flight attendant announced a certain person's name and instructions to get their gear and exit the plane. I thought it a little strange until I saw a pretty girl with lots of makeup dressed in a Southwest uniform getting up from a window seat just as I arrived at that row. She indicated that she was the one who was exiting and it wasn't a big deal as she was just deadheading and could catch another flight. I said I would gladly take her now vacant seat. The better part was she had to remove her carry on and mine fit right in its place. I thanked her with relief at not having to do either of the two things I feared, took my seat and set in for the final leg of the flight.

One thing I noticed while flying the other two legs was that I kept ending up in the 13th row. I'm not superstitious, but my last row of the travel day wasn't the 13th.

Well, the flight crew kept warning that it was going to be a bumpy flight due to high winds and had ordered the crew to stay seated the whole trip, but it wasn't bad at all. I just concentrated on making my bladder last the trip.

We hit the ground around 1600 or so and I was driving out of the rental car place around 1618. An hour and 10 minutes later, I was getting my parking pass at the front gate of TRACEN Petaluma for a fabulous one week stay.

I headed up to the club to check in and had an order of wings for dinner and a beer. Next I went down to my room and unloaded my suitcase. By now it was around 2000 local time, but 2300 in my head. I hooked up my laptop to make sure I had my umbilical for the week, changed into sleeping clothes, headed to the rack and called it a night. I read for a while and hit the lights after 2030.

Of course the next thing I knew it was 0300 local time and my mind was telling me it was time to get up. This always happens. I will be an early to bed, early to rise dude while here. More than usual. I'm waiting for sunrise now and will probably get a trek in up into the perimeter then maybe a little something in the gym. Next, I will probably take a quick trip into town for some supplies for the week. I need to keep my calories under control and pizza, wings and beer are not going to be the right things. There is a Subway here, but I have to be careful with that too.

We meet at 1300, then I can watch the second game to see if San Fran will be going back to the Superbowl. I must prepare my uniforms for tomorrow and the fun will then begin.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing, Spinning, Hiking,

One of the other things that "fell off" when my mother passed was my writing. I haven't gotten very far, but the story is still strong in my head. Of course, I had my first critic when I mentioned it at home. My brother read the synopsis and said, "Sounds like every other story I've read." After some fun brain storming, I gathered a few ideas to try. I will get back to it, but it may be a while until my hero gets back home and finds all the troublesome things I plan for him to find.

When we lived in Louisiana, we joined a fitness club in Slidel and we met a girl there who was learning to be a spin instructor from the girl we loved to take the class from. She was a few months pregnant and very friendly. Well, I received orders back to the MD/DC area and we moved back up north. We joined a new club in our neighborhood and started trying out the spin instructors. None of them seemed to teach the way we liked until we tired Cassie's class. She taught exactly how we liked it. While talking to her, we discovered that she was the pregnant girl in the back of the class and we instantly loved her.

We would take Cassie's Sunday morning class every week. As happens in life, Cassie moved away to pursue her other business interests and we lost our favorite instructor. Lisa and I would try the other instructors, but none taught like her and I personally decided to find other ways to burn calories. Lisa kept saying that we should get Cassie to add her voice cues to a song so we could keep "taking her classes" without her.

This gave me an idea. A simple Google search of "How to make a podcast?" led me to a good video of how to add voice to a song using free software and a cheap microphone I had. It has been a steep learning curve, but I now have one of her profiles mostly finished with cues that I dictate from her profile, which she copied for me on her last ride with us. It isn't her voice, but I have tried it out and it does work. I also have another profile she gave us way back when we took a cruise and that will be my next project. If you can stand my monotone voice telling you what to do, you can get a good workout instead of just pedaling away mindlessly.

As always, my hiking bug (AKA Springer Fever) continues. I'm hoping to get on to the AT during Spring break with my daughter and her boyfriend. I am constantly reading AT Journals and looking at my gear. I would love to try an overnight during this time of year, but I just can't seem to put it together. I also need to get my daughter some good gear.

Tomorrow I head to the airport (maybe in the midst of freezing rain) and fly to California for a week. It will be a long week with actual work on Sunday and not getting back until late the next Saturday, but work is work. I soldier on.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Blog

I haven't posted in a while. I am going to try to put something up here each Friday. The topics will vary. It will be whatever is going on currently.

Lets see, well we buried my Mother just before Christmas, so that holiday was a somber affair. I really do think she is better off now. She had a long life. Much longer than her parents, but she was the first to go (aside from her brother and sister who died in childhood and infancy) in her family. No matter what a person believes, I know she isn't feeling any arthritic pain, isn't forgetful or confused and she isn't shitting out of her abdomen. This I am completely sure of.

I got to do something that I always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity. Jeremy, Kristan's boyfriend (now fiance) is a talented musician. On the day of my Mother's funeral, we all came back from the wake to the house and Jeremy had a couple guitars and a small drum set. We sat around and played a bunch of songs, just like a group. He is very good and his instruction is great. After he saw my skill level (which isn't high), he gave me some pointers and chords and I tried to keep up. It was fun. We did it again on New Year's Eve with a full drum set and I had brought my electric guitar. It was a blast, but my skill level goes way down after quite a few beers. Even Shauni's boyfriend, Alex got to play for a while. He is real good too.

My obsession with the AT and backpacking continues. I really want to get on the trail, even if it is just an overnighter. It is winter though, so I will probably have to wait for the spring. Turk wants to do something with us and we had tentatively scheduled a short trip in March, but after thinking about it for a while, we figured it would still be too cold in PA and the area. I still want to do something, maybe a few days during Shauni and Alex's spring break around March 21st.

I found a couple more Trail Journals to read. Two young girls that completed it this last summer. They started out together as a coincidence, but soon parted due to different hiking speeds. But they both made it to the end. Interesting. The more I read the more I think that long hikes are nice as long as they are about a month or so. These thru-hikers seem to be so beaten down by the time they hit Maine. Most just finish to finish. There are some that are so into it that they hate to be done, but others just want to be done.

The weather has been back and forth these last couple of weeks. A little snow here, then 60 degree temps. Today is a bit cold, but the sky is pretty clear and the sun is bright.

The semi-annual weight reduction is in full swing again. I really gained a lot of weight this holiday season. I think I was the heaviest I have been in quite a while, if not forever. I am diligently tracking my food intake and have increased my workouts, just like always. We are even having a 90 day fitness challenge at work to help keep me on track.

The new season of Wallyball started last Friday. Tonight are the first league games. Lisa won't be playing on the team this time. We have picked up Dee to replace her. The thing in her chin is a glandular odon-something cyst. It's benign, but they have to remove it and fix up her jaw bone. She will most likely lose from 4 to 8 teeth and they will be taking some bone from her leg to put in her jaw to help it heal. She goes in Feb 1st.

Well, that's it for now. I hope to be back here next Friday at the latest...