Wednesday, November 27, 2013

O Canada . . . Again

And so I returned from another exciting adventure to Western Canada.  Between the low visibility due to the blizzard-like conditions and the challenge of the day job, it was one of those experiences that I just don't want to repeat.  At temperatures averaging twenty below zero, it made me realize that I need to get back into semi-retirement.

I do have to admit that getting in to Canada was much easier than getting back in to the United States.  Of course, I really should not have attempted to do so on the day before Thanksgiving.  What was I thinking??  The interesting part of the experience in US Customs today is that our border patrol seems to favor anyone but US citizens.  The customs officers paraded a lot of the returning US citizens into different lines that took ten times longer than visitors from other countries.  I was first off my plane from Canada and the entire plane beat me through the customs lines.  My luggage was the last piece waiting on the carousel, and I almost missed my connecting flight.  Two hours in customs is a bit much, but I guess it was compounded by the holiday.

I have one more major trip this year, and then I can rest for a little while.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  May your travels be less complicated than mine...


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Canada Revisted

It is easy to forget that Canada is a country separate from the USA.  I recently got back from a quick trip north, and found that travel problems exist no matter where you go.  In this adventure, I found that we have really set travel backward in the last twelve years.  Bear in mind, during this entire trip, I was wearing a leg brace due to the injury that was chronicled in the last two posts.

In Canada, it seemed to be a lot easier to get around in the airports.  I noted that even though we did have metal detectors, there were no intrusive x-ray machines or other invasive technologies designed to make the traveler uncomfortable.  There was sufficient security, and it wasn't disruptive either.  The airports were designed to make it as painless for the traveler.  What a concept!  This is what travel used to be like twelve years ago.

Even though the airports were not the issue, I still had a few problems with this trip.  It was just before school started, and there were quite a few children on the plane.  One of them accidentally splashed me with some water on the airplane (at least I hope it was water).  Kids will be kids, I suppose.  It has also been a while since I had my last border crossing, so I forgot that different currency is used in Canada.  I had the hardest time finding places to eat that took my brand of credit card.

After an unexpected flight delay and missed connection, I got reroute to Seattle.  The airline wasn't able to get me back to the right airport, but at least I made it back to the general area of Southern California.  Close enough.  After all that, I eventually returned back home, and am awaiting the next adventure. Until then, I'll continue to limp along.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Limping Along

It's been over a month since my ankle injury in Texas.  I've hobbled along for brief day trips to San Francisco, Sacramento, and Minneapolis in the intervening weeks.  Before my heralded return to Canada (for a day), I am attempting to remember how to deal with the intricacies of the international aspect of travel.  Many years ago I used to travel frequently into Canada, and had many difficulties.  This time I'm fortunate enough to be traveling between a couple of smaller airports, so I think it shouldn't be too difficult.

Fortunately my travel schedule has become a lot more manageable.  The last round of constant travel over the past three years has made me realize that semi-retirement really wasn't a bad thing.  Anyway, it's time to get back to business.  It has been several years since my last opportunity to cross the border, and I am trying to remember where I left my passport and other documents while limping along.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Longest Week Of The Year

I returned to my old schedule, just for a week.  It all started on an overnight New York flight on Sunday.  Since flights have been so inconsistent lately, I had to stop in Washington DC for a "quick" connection, which turned out to be several hours.  Delays are pretty common these days.  However, if you're meeting a large group of people from all over the country and no one makes it on time, it may be time to look at our air travel system. 

In the middle of the week, I rerouted myself to a last minute job in Texas.  I had a 20 minute connection in Cleveland, so the airline decided to reroute me through Chicago. It took an extra 10 hours to get to my destination, since I missed the last connecting flight.  In the tradition of a true road warrior, I decided to reroute myself to the closest available airport with a flight and drive through the night.

This was one of the few times that I didn't pack too much extra stuff for an "emergency" add-on trip.  After all, it's been almost a year and over 200,000 miles since I had to add a few days to an existing trip. At least I didn't tear the seam of my pants like I did in Cleveland several years ago.  Also, I didn't give the airline a reason to lose my luggage, as I carried everything on the plane.  However, I still needed to get the WalMart suit, and get some other extra clothes and stuff.  I did still manage to twist my ankle and wind up in extreme amounts of pain on Saturday.  Some things never change...

I finally limped my way back home, and I'm still limping along.  That was one of the longest weeks I've had in a while.  Let's not do that again.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Work Life Balance - Three Unrelated Words

Every now and then, there are short periods of time when you have to remain office bound for one reason or another.  I'm in between assignments at work, but I know things are going to pick up in a week or two.  In the meantime, oddly enough, I have started to actually miss the airport after being grounded for more than a week.  However, when I'm on the road as usual, I really miss the time at home to get on with my personal life.  It's a really strange cyclical anomaly.

Many people have reminded me about work-life balance, and it is interesting to see the different perspectives. People older than I am will tend to lean toward the work aspect, while the younger group will tend to lean strongly on the life aspect.  The interesting thing to note is that I can't seem to find the balance portion with either.  In my current line of work, you just have to accept the busy periods, and take the opportunity to catch up with your personal life during the slow periods.

I'm off to Detroit to work on my other personal projects for the weekend.  It's not exactly work or life or balance, but at least I'm getting to see the airport again.  Wait!  Did I just say that? ...


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Travel Game

It's been well over 50,000 miles since my last post, and I finally have a few moments between all of my projects for a quick personal trip to New York. Since I resumed my life as a road warrior a few years ago, I have found that I seem to have a lot less personal time on my schedule.  Even though my assignment is nearing completion, I still needed to take a little time for family.

Travel is a really unusual game. It's supposed to be about getting from point "A" to point "B" with minimal disruptions to your life.  It's also about trying to get the lowest fare, most frequent flier miles, and best seating.  Just like standard business travel, it can be a no-win scenario, especially around a holiday.  In this case, I needed to be in upstate New York for a graduation on a Saturday morning.  The lowest fares were either overnight flights that would allow me to arrive in the morning on Saturday, but place me180 miles away from my destination.   I made the tactical error of getting in to JFK right before rush hour on Friday.  It took three hours just to get out of the city.  I managed to stop for dinner in New Jersey before continuing onward. 

So, a minor miscalculation while playing the travel game did cost me a bit of sanity throughout the weekend.  However, I wouldn't have it any other way.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Winter Revisted

I never really understood the meaning of a winter wonderland.  Since I have lived for most of my life in warmer climates, it usually causes some trepidation every time I encounter snow and ice. This winter has been no exception.  I've been spending a lot of time in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.  Needless to say, there has been a lot of snow so far.  It has been a few years since I have experienced freezing temperatures that actually hurt with just a few seconds of exposure.

While the fresh snow looks nice, it does have its challenges.  Rental car companies don't provide the shovels and ice picks that I needed in the last several trips.  The snow and ice were challenging in Duluth and Minneapolis, and I really needed that shovel in Chicago and Grand Rapids after experiencing the same snow storm twice in the same week.  The small brush and ice scraper that I had available was just not enough to dig myself out of the parking lot.

There are still several more weeks of winter, and I'm not quite finished with my travels into Minnesota for now.  I have yet to understand this concept of a winter wonderland.  However, I do wonder when this winter will end.

See ya.

Monday, January 07, 2013

It Begins Again

Another year, and another long adventure begins.  I log over 250,000 miles domestically every year, and log over 200 flight segments a year easily.  As I start to get a little more grey, I've noticed that my patience seems to be growing shorter for air travel.  Maybe I'm just getting tired or set in my ways.  After all these years of the increased security measures, it just seems really taxing to even walk through the scanners these days.  If this were fifteen years ago, I would consider the standard pat-down-after-a-scan treatment that I get at airport security to be a form of assault.  However, these days I have to dismiss it as the fact that the agents don't need to have a reason to touch me in places that would be classified as molestation by anyone else. 

Lately, in Minnesota and a couple of other California airports, I've noticed that the scan with pat-down seems to happen most of the time.  It's not like I'm unaware of the protocols with shoes, outer clothing, and other stuff.  I just think that after subjecting me to radiation from multiple scans every week, are the extreme pat downs that touch or get close to your private areas really necessary?  I've been feeling violated way too much in the past year from improper touches, but it's not like I have a choice, since I have to travel for work.  I recognize many of the TSA agents at the airports that I frequent regularly.  I'm there every week, sometimes multiple times.  Yet I still seem to get singled out more often than what I would consider normal.  I've been dismissing it as the fact that they probably recognize me from previous visits.  After all, I'm sure the TSA agents see thousands of faces every day, too. 

As I was saying, another year, and another long adventure begins. Time to roll...


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

As we begin a new year, I can't help but look back to the last couple of years on the road.  I was traveling as much as the old days, and I had the same number of whacky adventures as well.  For some reason, I just couldn't find the time to keep up the blog.  I can't say that I'll be too much better in the upcoming year, but I'll give it a try.

In the meantime, I have been home for a couple of weeks, and it has been great to rest up a bit before another year that will likely top 250,000 miles once again.  I've got a new home office thanks to one of my close friends, and I think that this will be an interesting year of changes.  It's a long road back, but the journey has to start somewhere.

The journey begins in California and continues to Wisconsin and beyond.  Time to get started...