Friday, December 26, 2008

A Time To Heal

I took one final trip into Los Angeles for the year this past weekend. I've not been in the best of health for the last year despite my reappearance in various airports throughout the country, and throughout the world for that matter. For the rest of the year, I'm staying home for some very necessary rest. When rest time is over, I'm starting the year with a quick weekend vacation in Hawaii. It's good to have some time to heal before I have to resume my regularly scheduled role as a road warrior. Later.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Cycle Continues

The cycle continues, and I'm in that rare situation that requires my presence back on the playing field for a short time. Once again, the situation dictates a last-minute trip into Baltimore. I'm not functioning at full capacity these days, so a red-eye from coast-to-coast is not really sitting well with me at the moment. I'm still trying to get things together for the trip, because there is still business to be transacted. In addition to the day job portion of this, I'm still working through the weekend to get everything wrapped up at home. It's not unlike any other one of the good old emergency trips that I've done many times over. The cycle continues over and over again. This time, though, I've got to delegate my next trip out to someone else on the team. If this emergency business cycle continues, I definitely need to get my rest cycles in place as well.

So, I'm tentatively planning to cancel my trip into Raleigh-Durham next week. However, I'll still put it on hold in case yet another emergency decides to interrupt the normal travel cycle for my team. And so it continues . . .


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Flight Controller

So I spent some time this holiday weekend monitoring planes, trains, and automobiles. No, not the movie. I used those scheduling skills of mine to get one of my friends home for the holidays. Through Amtrak and the airlines, we did manage to pull this off without any significant issues. However, it is a lot different from the other side of the equation. I have found that it is a lot different to pull the strings when examining flights, alternative trains, buses, and other random forms of travel if you are not the one actually traveling. I did manage to bring him home, but now I have to get him back to school on the other side of the country in the morning. Time for me to continue monitoring.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let It Snow, Just Not On Me...

There's something about this time of year that reminds me that I'm supposed to stop traveling during the winter months. I decided to get snowed on in Columbus, Ohio, this week. It did make me long for the nice heat wave we were experiencing in California while attempting to get through the highway into frozen remote parts of Ohio. I've got to remember to start checking the weather before I start on these trips. I must be getting forgetful these days. Anyhow, as the song says, let it snow. . . just not on me.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Road Most Traveled

Manhattan is such an interesting place. I managed to take the subway a few times, and I balanced it out by taking a few taxis to get myself back to my hotel that was just outside the city. After a long week of conferences and meetings, I took a cab to the car rental place at the airport, and rented a car to drive up to Albany for the evening. The concept of the GPS is interesting. I asked for the fastest route, and the computerized voice took me off I-87 in the Bronx, and sent me through New Jersey before reconnecting with I-87 once again in New York. That just made no sense to me, but I was in no mood to argue with the computer. That argument always got me into trouble in the past, so I just took the road most traveled -- it was quite crowded, even in New Jersey. Thanks to all of the abuse from some of the cab drivers, my luggage has finally given up on me, so I had to do some quick shopping and shipping.

And so I find myself in Albany for another day. I managed to have some Texas chili and Idaho fries for dinner. Not bad for a small restaurant in Albany, New York, right? I've also booked yet another work trip in a couple of weeks, so the adventures continue on the road most traveled. I need a nap.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Historical Events

Ok, the plan was great, but the execution fell short. As you recall, I was attempting to pack a few days before the trip. Well, fatigue caught up with me, and sleep won out. For the first time in many years, I actually missed my flight. It was a combination of way too many things -- fatigue, weather, lack of parking, traffic, and lack of stamina. I got to the airport a little late, thanks to an extra 45 minutes that I was stuck in traffic. On top of that, it took me an extra 3o minutes to find a parking space. I had three minutes to run the half-mile to the terminal from the parking area. I just couldn't make it this time.

It's a good thing that I still have some clout with an airline or two, and managed to get into the New York only an hour later than planned. Of course, I did resort to sprinting across terminals in Dallas just like the old days. I really have to give thanks to American Airlines this week. They actually connected my luggage correctly with a less than 20 minute transfer in Dallas. No luggage separation anxiety on this trip!

It was a historic week on many fronts. That election thing also happened this week too. I really don't get too deep into politics, but it was kind of nice being in the middle of Manhattan during this election day. For the last couple of days, I attended a leadership summit with some of the most powerful global leaders and corporations. It's been a great session, and it has made me think about sticking around for a bit longer. There will be plenty of time for retirement later. Life is a journey, and I'm going to enjoy the ride. Later.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Three Times In As Many Days

As strange as it may seem, I'm off to New York for the third time in less than a month. For a semi-retired, office-bound road warrior, that is a bit much. It's not the plane ride or time zone that will be the challenge this time. I think the greatest challenge will just be my presence in Manhattan during election week and the week of the New York Marathon. I'm not participating if you haven't already guessed. I think it's going to be a bit crazier than usual, and it will likely be similar to the last time I had some extended time in Manhattan. As I recall Garth Brooks was in town performing, and I kept getting stuck in the horrific traffic caused by his fan base.

I may be a bit early for this, but it's time to pack. I will admit to being a bit rusty at this, so I'm not going to do my "pack-for-five-minutes-before-you-rush-to-the-airport" show. This time, I'm going to at least try to get it right. Safe travels, everyone.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Exceeding Capacity

For the last few decades, I've consistently made a habit of exceeding my capabilities on the road. It has worked for me in the past, but maybe there is some wisdom in slowing down. I got back to New York a couple of times in the last few weeks. Both trips required hundreds of miles of driving.

It was quite disturbing for me to discover that I just couldn't successfully fight off the fatigue. Since my days in college and earlier, I've always pushed harder in order to keep going. This last time I just didn't make it. During my four-hour drive to visit a friend, I needed to pull off the road in Canada to rest in order to safely make it to my hotel. I guess I didn't have too much time to rest during the trip, but when I did have a moment, I took the opportunity for a nap instead of providing my normal updates from the road. On the way back, It took roughly twice the time, and there was no difference in traffic. No, I didn't get lost. The fatigue finally caught up, and I had to pull over multiple times or truly risk an accident.

Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe I just shouldn't pack my schedule the way I used to. I guess I finally got knocked down by that invisible age barrier. I guess it's time to adjust my capacity settings. And now, it's time for that nap.


Sunday, October 12, 2008


It's kind of nice being unplugged from the office for a few days. Though in this day and age, it's really hard to be totally disconnected from the rigors of the working world. I spent yesterday driving around New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, in search of a cheeseburger. I did reach the target objective in New Haven, CT, and dragged along a friend. An experience like this is something that is best shared. You really have to experience the burger to fully understand. It's that good. I could go on and on about different restaurants across the country, but that's not the point of today's post.

As I was mentioning earlier, being unplugged from the office has been a great thing. The hotel and airline experience seems a bit weird without the rigors and pressures of the office beating you down. It did give me some insight into the fact that travel has really gotten to be a horrible experience if you don't have the status (or even if you do, in some cases.) Airlines have turned into freight services, and passengers are looked upon as cattle. I do think that FedEx and UPS have a chance to break into the market. My packages seem to get there intact most of the time. I'm sure they couldn't do any worse with actual people. Hey, it could happen.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

And I'm Off Again . . .

. . . but as I always say, insanity is no excuse. Yes, I'm getting myself back out on the road for a short vacation. I haven't been out and about much since my last vacation. This time, the destination is Albany, and the flight is a red-eye. Travel has gotten a bit complex in recent years, but I think the exhaustion factor also has something to do with it. I've really got to stop scheduling my time right up to the last minute before the flight. It's just not the sane thing to do. But, as I mentioned earlier, insanity is no excuse. Travel safe.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This entry was supposed to relay an interesting journey into the Deep South with many pearls of wisdom and the many roads less traveled. Instead, I remain in San Diego working on various projects, and planning for the road ahead. I was also supposed to see my friend Ruth in Las Vegas next week. Unfortunately, I'm still not able to work out the details of the trip, and probably won't be able to squeeze it into my schedule due to work meetings and other projects that seemed to pop into my calendar.

I've been anxiously awaiting an excuse to write about something in this column, but I've got to admit -- I've got nothing. It's pretty hard doing a continuing blog about being a road warrior when I can't seem to get myself on the road for any period of time this past month.

Things should be picking up soon. I'm scheduled to visit my friend James in New York in a couple of weeks. After that, it's time for Jon's third wedding this year. In between that, I've got a quick trip to Chicago, and perhaps a couple of other quick trips in November. No more excuses, I need to get back on the road!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

It's seven years later, and it seems like a distant memory. I was a full-fledged road warrior back then, and the day was pivotal in our history. It's amazing what can happen in a brief seven years. Reflecting on some of the changes we've seen, I wonder how the travel industry has managed to survive the chaos. We've seen reactions to security that were somewhat over-the-top. A combination of security and economic pressures caused airlines to rise and fall.

Personally, I've given in to the ravages of time, and decided to go part-time with my road warrior adventures. The world of travel has gotten a bit more complex in the intervening years, so it's a good thing that I've decided to slow down a bit. The adventure still continues . . .


Monday, September 01, 2008

Sweet Home California

According to the counter on the blog, this is my 200th post in this column, so I'll start by wishing myself a Happy Anniversary. It's been almost seven years since I started blathering on about my travels on my various blogs and columns. I recall starting to write about my adventures after travel started to get complicated a bit after September, 2001.

Lately, I've been staying home at headquarters in California. It's easy to get a bit complacent and to forget the difficulties of the travel adventure when you spend a few too many weeks in the office. To rectify this, I'm getting myself back on the road once in a while. Later this month, I'm being sent on an adventure to the Deep South, specifically, Alabama. Nothing against Alabama, but I would have picked Honolulu first. Still, it beats the four walls of the office building for a few days. It's been a while since I've last visited the Deep South, and I'm sure I'll have more to tell after the trip when I get back.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Taking Control

I remember when August in Orlando was supposed to be hot and humid. I had forgotten the one rule of meetings -- never underestimate the power of air conditioning. It seems that at every meeting in extreme climates, people tend to over compensate. In our meeting rooms today with the full blast of the air conditioning, it rivaled a cold winter night. In one of my meetings this past winter in Canada, I noticed the over compensation factor also existed. Most indoor rooms were built too much like saunas.

There seems to be a control factor that people want to exert upon their environment. Why else could one freeze at the hottest time of the year in Orlando, and melt in the arctic climate of Canada in mid-winter? I'd buy a jacket before my next session, but they seem to be out of season in Orlando in August. Go figure.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Annual Flogging

It's time for yet another sales meeting. I remember several years ago when travel and sales meetings used to be fun and games. Even in the bad years, there was still an element of excitement. But then again, I was on the other side of things, learning and enjoying the ride. Since my first sales meeting all those years ago, a lot has changed. Most notably, when the economy gets a bit bad, travel options aren't always the greatest. There's always the added bonus of the company making sure that you need to travel on a Sunday at 5am from California in order to make it to mandatory meetings by 4pm at the other end of the country. It could be a lot worse though.

Destinations are always an interesting lot. This year, we're going to Florida in August. Yes, that's right -- Florida. I guess it's probably off season for business travelers in the area, so I'm sure we got a good deal on our meeting location. Still, when you're at a meeting to learn all sorts of things about your products or services, most people won't be able to concentrate with the temperature and distraction. I've got the added fun, as I'm now one of the instructors.

So, we find ourselves at our annual flogging, er, I mean, sales meeting. Everyone is so geographically dispersed in our large organization. A meeting of this nature is a great opportunity to see everyone that you normally can only see once in a while when you are playing the road warrior game. But, of course, what you always leave behind is a load of paperwork back in the home office that just doesn't go away.

I mentioned the flogging portion. Yes, it's always a challenge to have a bunch of sales people, who by nature do not like to be cooped up away from the challenge of the playing field, sequestered for a few days. Sometimes, in bad years, it's a management team that might be doing the flogging. In other years, it's the sales personnel that start the process. Though, I somehow always wind up as the one who is flogged. So, let the flogging begin!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Forget Retirement

I just got my wings back -- top tier status on one of the airlines for the next full year. Looking back upon the last year, I sense that I'm not quite done yet. I've had a couple of decades of stories to tell, and I think there are still a few more stories out there waiting to be told. Even though I was feeling a bit old and tired, I think I still need to continue a while longer as one of those "foot soldiers of the modern global economy," as eloquently stated by some article in an airline magazine that I had read a few years back. It's onward to Orlando in August for a sales meeting. It beats Phoenix, I guess. Not by much, though. Later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Remnants of a Lost Era

I just received a package today. The package itself is a remnant of a lost era -- vacation. On one of my last days of my road trip, I sent all of my laundry and trinkets and other stuff that I bought to myself instead of hauling luggage back home. These days, the airlines are starting to charge for additional baggage. As a frequent traveler, I currently seem to be exempt from the rule.

This was the first time I tried the great experiment. For a two week trip, I selected two drop points for packages of replacement laundry, and used those same boxes to ship dirty laundry and vacation purchases back home. I must admit that it seemed to work out pretty well. You just have to have faith that your package will arrive on time, and in the appropriate location. Those regular insomniacs that read this blog will know that I have had many issues with LSA - luggage separation anxiety. This solution seemed to work out pretty well. It cost less than $20 to ship each box, which was less than the airlines are charging regular travelers. I might give this concept another try in the near future.

While it has only been a week, the vacation seems like it was in another era of history. I think I had mentioned once before that it wasn't easy to return to your normal life after a long absence. Three weeks really isn't that long, but it was enough time to make me realize that I could have used another month. I do need some more time to open a few more pages from the past. With all of the stuff that happened at work in the last couple of days, I begin to think that I should have stayed out at least another week.

The adventures continue as I tackle Norfolk and Los Angeles next week, in that order. Back to the daily grind at 35,000 feet... That's got to have restored some balance in the universe somewhere, right?


Monday, July 07, 2008

The Road Warrior Recovers . . .

I was looking back at the last time I took a vacation, and it seems that it was a little over two years ago. Coincidentally, the last real vacation that I took in 2006 also revolved around my best friends. I guess history does repeat itself, only this time I had a bit of an expanded version of the vacation.

First, my friend Jon got married halfway across the world in Shanghai. That was an event that I wasn't about to miss, so I got an extra few days off from work, even at the end of the fiscal year. Last vacation in 2006, I think Jon and I went in search of hot dogs at a shopping mall in Buffalo. Unquestionably, this vacation (well, it was a vacation for me, at least) was one of the best adventures that I've been on in quite a while. I got to play best man for the first time, and managed to look decent in a tuxedo. Who could ask for anything more, right? Shanghai was a great adventure, especially the taxi rides which reminded me of a cross between demolition derby and the Indy 500.

To top things off, my young friend James graduated from high school, and it was time to take him on a tour of the USA -- a day after I returned from Shanghai. We managed to tackle Dallas, Worcester, New Haven, Redmond, and Atlanta in less than ten days. We even returned to the same hotel in Redmond from two years ago. I knew we would return there someday. I think I even mentioned that in my post from 2006. It was a lot of fun, and I can still keep up with a teenager, which was surprising to even me. We both really, really, really needed a vacation. That was our tagline. I think it was just what we both needed before he goes off to college.

In both cases, it really wasn't the destination that mattered. What mattered most was the fact that I got to catch up with my friends. So, now it's time to return to the perils of the day job, and start planning the next set of travels. I have some time in Orlando next month, and perhaps a few more adventures before that. I also know that I'm not going to let another two years pass without scheduling some time with my friends. Again, I've been listening to too many movies lately, but I remember someone saying that if something is important, you need to make the time.


Friday, July 04, 2008

The Road Warrior Returns

While I was on vacation, I had an epiphany. Well, maybe not so much an epiphany as a self-realization that I'm at my best whenever I'm on the road. It took a conversation around two in the morning at a Denny's in the Seattle area for me to begin to realize this. A young friend of mine wanted to hear my life story during vacation. I was talking about various things which led me to the road warrior game. I had decided to give it up last year, and go into semi-retirement, and I had to stop and think if that was the right decision for me. I recounted the good times and the bad times on the road. If anyone has actually been reading any of this stuff, you'll know that I've had some strange adventures on the road, balanced with some of the less intelligent things that happened out there. To borrow from Dickens, I guess it has been the best of times and the worst of times.

In my absence, I apparently was promoted at work. I've also decided to get myself back on the road from time to time. A year-long absence made me realize that I was at my best when I was out there on the playing field. Though I'm not going to knock myself out by traveling every single week any more, I'm still going to be out there more often than as of late. It's been a really good vacation. I should take a couple of weeks off more often. Now, it's back to life at 35,000 feet.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Ultimate Road Warrior

I've been neglecting this blog for a bit, so I'll need to relate some of the adventures at a later time. Right now, I'm in the middle of an "ultimate road warrior" challenge. I've managed to keep up with a teenager for the last week, and we've had quite an adventure so far. Based upon past history, this is probably the last time we'll be able to do this type of trip to this extent. So, I'm enjoying the moment for now. I'm sleepless in Seattle at the moment, on the way to Dallas and Atlanta when day breaks again. Later.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The International Post

I'm reporting from Montreal. It's cold outside, and our friends at American Airlines decided to ground over 600 flights this week due to wiring issues on their fleet of MD-8o aircraft. I was among the thousands of travelers impacted by the shuffling of schedules. Having been a scheduling professional in my past, I do have a lot of empathy for the eight people that contacted me about flight changes. I'm sure that this goes way beyond their job descriptions.

This is the first time in years that I've ventured into Canada. I had to brush the dust off my passport for the next few months. When I go international, I go all the way. You see, I have the Montreal trip this week, and I'm booked in Edmonton next week. For the greater part of the decade, I've stuck with domestic travel. In the span of the next few months, I've got a few Canada trips and a quick trip to China. Well, I'd better get back to work.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best Kind Of Magic

There truly is some sort of magic to this road warrior game. Sometimes you get the worst possible outcome -- well, maybe that happens most of the time. Throughout all of those visits to Arizona in the middle of August, all of the slippery ice patches, flat tires, condemned buildings, and other traveler nightmares, I always managed to get those complementary upgrades and other perks on those nights that I happened to stay at a hotel for less than four or five hours. Foolish as it seems, one begins to wonder if you ever get to the point when you get to experience a comfortable room, on-time flights, and successful meetings.

Travel can't always be perfect, but I did manage to get a very nice room upgrade for the next few days. That's kind of nice to have during a week-long meeting in Dallas. I did also manage to get here on time. Who knows? If the meeting actually turns out well, then there may be some sort of magic involved with this trip after all. Later.