October 26, 2013

More Civilized Travel

As I mentioned in one of my travel notes posts, on the last two trips I have taken, I qualified for the new TSA PreCheck lines rather than the usual airport security disrobing lines.  At first I had no idea how I qualified for this, since I didn't actually "do" anything special prior to buying my tickets.  I don't travel anywhere near enough to jump through extra hoops for faster airport access.  This is for domestic flights only, not international. 

One thing I do, to try and make my life a bit easier, is to join the frequent flyer programs of the airlines I fly.  I have found by doing this, I am not relegated to the very last group of people to board the plane and I have a better chance of getting overhead bin space for my bag.  I also have their apps on my phone so I don't have to print a boarding pass. AND in the case of my delayed flight, AA immediately rescheduled me on the next available flight when mine was delayed.  I didn't realize they would do this, and wasted some time trying to call the 800 number to reschedule when all I had to do was wait about 5 minutes, they called me with the flight change info.  Ha.

In this case, I flew American Airlines and Delta through the local major airport hubs.  AA from Logan - O'Hare - St. Louis.  Delta from Logan - Atlanta.  All these airports have instituted the TSA PreCheck.  Unfortunately, this feature is not yet in place at  Midway in Chicago. They say it's coming... so come on already!!!

But what is this feature?  Well, you get to go through security the old fashioned way... shoes on, little liquid bottles and computers stay in the bags, light jackets can remain on. Belts can stay on.  You just need to take metal out of your pockets.  Nice. 

How did I qualify for this?  By being a member of the Delta and AA frequent flyer programs.  There are several other airlines offering this too, it's on the TSA site I linked above.  I am wondering how long they will allow these frequent flyer programs to use this feature. 

The TSA is setting up centers in major cities where they want to collect your info and finger prints and $85, then you are issued a number to put in no matter which airline you fly... Um... No.  I am so not going for that one.  I will take it if they give it to me for being a frequent flyer member though. 

Of course the other options like Global Entry, NEXUS, etc all qualify too.  But these are people who travel all the time internationally. It is worth it in these cases to have some expedited entry plans or they would spend their lives in customs lines. 

I have seen some people complaining that the PreCheck lines are longer and slower than the regular security lines.  I expect that will happen as they end up changing things over to use mostly PreCheck.  I still prefer keeping my shoes on.

If you are flying in the near future, you may want to check out the frequent flyer option if you will be using an airline/airport that is part of the program. 

Happy flying!

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:42 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 22, 2013

Time for travel fun and games.

For the last couple of weeks I've been traveling. This first post is on my trip to St. Louis. I'm only now getting some time to post some observations from the trip.

I have qualified for TSA Pre-check on my last 2 trips.  Will talk more about this nifty bit of excellence in a future post.

It's called boarding. Not conversation time. You're gonna sit together for the entire flight. Don't stop to talk in the aisle!

I'm not listening to the plane programming but if they play one more commercial for the Samsung galaxy I may just scream. I hope Samsung is giving them lots of money for their commercial to play twice every other minute.

Jerk in front of me reclined his seat just after the wheels left the ground. Yeah really wanted his head in my face. Guy next to me is yawning every 30 seconds and making some sing-song sound.  Thank heaven only a 45 min flight.

Why do airplane seats always fit exactly wrong?

Makes me nervous when they hand drinks over me. So far so good, none ending up in my lap but it's always a moment when I hope for the best.

I suppose if they didn't serve anything, people would have fits. However it amazes me people can't go 45 minutes without eating or drinking.  Crazy that.

If you are angry and start screaming at your SO remember that everyone on your floor in the hotel can hear you.  And yes, we are judging you, not the person you are yelling at.

Who knew a candy store in a STL airport would inspire someone to take souvenir photos.

STL has some nice looking bars in Terminal 1. Too bad it's way too early in the day to take advantage of them. Oh well.

How do people sit and wait for a plane then get on the plane and sit more? I spend lots of time standing at airports. Even walking the halls.

Starting 'em young. 3 year old walking down the concourse watching the iPhone screen rather than where she's going.

And in the tradition of the travel gods not liking me, first flight out is delayed due to an oil leak.  All other flights full.  They are bringing in a new plane that will arrive here at the time the flight out of O'Hare leaves for Boston.   Oh well.  Time for a drink. I won't be driving and I have a few hours to kill. 

Since I am a frequent flyer member, they automatically rescheduled me for the next available flight after the delay. Unfortunately that won't be until tomorrow.

Early early morning flight. Still dark at 6:30. Wow.

Love the blue runway lights. Can't wait til we can leave devices on. Would have been some excellent pics of sunrise and city.

Elderly lady next to me seemed surprised she was in a middle seat. She's having a hard time keeping her elbows and bags from bumping us on either side of her.  She also seemed to not have a clue about turning off her book thing. Don't think she travels often.

Quiet flight. Think most everyone is tired.

They are showing some sort of dramady on this flight. There have been tears,  a baby born, and angsty looking conversations. It's way too early in the morning for such things. Wish I could turn off the screens since I don't want to see it. Problem is the screen is right in my face when looking forward. Ho-hum.

Haven't seen this before. Could it be a morning thing?  Several guys walking around with hoodies on and hoods up. In the airport and on the plane. I would think this might call down some unwanted extra attention.  But maybe not. Better yet these guys all carry backpacks.

And in the bus - on the way to pick up my car at the shuttle lot.

It's a mini cooper you should not have difficulty keeping it in your lane.

Sorry if you are confused about the Pike exit to 128 however stopping on the highway to decide what to do is really not the ideal option. Just sayin...

To top off the trip, the Framingham shuttle lot now valet parks some cars.  They parked me in.  Had to go back to the office, wait for the guy to sell people shuttle tickets, have him walk out with me, check the car, go back and get the keys and then finally move it.  *sigh* 

Guess it's time to figure out another place to park when flying out of Logan.  This is ridiculous.

Thus endeth the first trip. 

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 10:59 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 06, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Northern California

I went to Derrick Story's Sonoma Coast Photo Workshop which was such fun. Derrick is a terrifically nice person and he puts a huge amount of effort into making the workshops great.  It flowed beautifully without being totally exhausting.  I loved it!

The people who attended were so talented and interesting, it was fantastic to meet them. If photography is your thing and you can manage to get out there, I highly recommend it!

One of the secondary reasons I did the workshop was an excuse to get a vacation in. My husband and I haven't taken a real vacation in years. We have done family trips which are fine, but sometimes it takes an extra push to move out of that particular type of trip. This was perfect. We had not been to California before and there was the Wine Country and San Francisco to take a peek at, both of which are completely different than our usual daily lives. Perfect!

Here's a bit of what I found while tooling about Northern California.

- if the car rental place gives you a Fiat 500 because that's all they have... you will talk to a lot of people. Everyone wants to know about it.  I was wondering if my husband would fit - he did - but he had to duck quite a bit to get in the door and thus banged his head a few times. Us + luggage = a somewhat tight squeeze. heh.  It drove very well though. Not a bad little car and very light on gas. It does draw attention.  Hilarious. 

- I am not a big fan of winery hopping. One can move between wineries, but if you're driving, the fun stops pretty quick - give me a nice wine bar and a hotel within walking distance - way way more fun!!!

- that said Korbel does an excellent tour and Champagne tasting. Their "Natural" label is really very good indeed and turned out to be my favorite, not too sweet, of the 5. (yes 5) types. There is quite a bit of history on display. The first man they hired to make champagne insisted on having his own darkroom as he was an amateur photographer! So they have many photos from back in the day - fascinating stuff. They also do a garden tour. The gardens around the original house have rose bushes that are over 100 years old!

- they grow roses near vineyards because... if there is a mildew problem, it will strike the roses first and alert the vineyard owners to take steps to keep it from hitting the grape vines! That is a wine fact. (as James May would say in his show James May's Road Trip - where he tours wine country to find a good wine for the average person in Britain - excellent show when one can find it on BBC)

- I was delighted at how well the people of N Cali drive. It was so restful after MA. They tend to be rather sane on the roads and I knew what they were going to do! How odd is that. Also on the twisty roads I was shocked to find they actually stay in their lanes!!!! Wow!

- SF itself is much like NYC or Chicago. People watching is incredibly fun in the city itself but they do have 1000% more tourists than I've ever seen in any one location.

- I tried White Zinfandel for the first (and last) time. Holy crap!!! People drink that stuff??? I had never had it before.  Our hotel bar had a very pricey wine list, White Zin was the least expensive thing by far (which should have been a huge red flag). Now I know - run away - run far - run fast! What an awful sickly sweet glass of not quite wine. GAK!!!

- OTOH I did find a new wine I haven't seen out here in the East. I must look for it here. It's called Geyerhof Gruner Veltliner from Austria.  It was a lovely tart wine that went beautifully with food. The bar tender at The Slanted Door recommended it - they were out of the Sauvignon Blanc I wanted to drink. (Yes, I know, the restaurant is on the Embarcadero, which simply screams "tourist trap" but it was most excellent - especially for a late afternoon lunch!)

- all the above being said, I could not live in N. Cali because I seem to be allergic to it. My hayfever was really annoying while I was there. I was taking Claritin like mad and it made no difference.  Who knew!  I was always told that drier climates were much better for hayfever sufferers.  Not so for me!!! Thank heaven I never thought to move there. A vacation I can handle, living there would be miserable.  Strange.

When I can manage to get the rest of the pics up on my computer, I will likely be posting more photos here.  At the moment I think I need a break from photography software though... the Apple meltdown of the RawCamera.bundle was a bit too much after a long trip. 

And thus endeth a vacation.

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 07:54 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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September 05, 2011

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

I'm back.  I took an actual vacation.  It involved cameras but also this



and this



and this



And even this



And that's just from the iphone.  heh.

More later. It's taken me 2 entire days to get some stuff back to normal... including Aperture (my photo software) that Apple updated and managed to break in the process... rolling back is a royal pain. Good grief!

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March 01, 2011

Chicago and Back

I went to Chicago this last weekend.  When I am more awake I shall be enlarging upon these notes I jotted on my ipod in evernote.

***

-- Tons of ppl traveling today
-- Dogs out in force sniffing
-- Ppl with huge strollers.
-- Rain. Lots of rain
-- Strange worker dude walking the airport flirting
-- Love TripIt pro - even noted gate change
-- Bumpy takeoff
-- Lots of kindles the big ones are huge!
-- I realize it's a badge of honor to some to lose yourself in reading - but it's more than a little annoying when I have to keep tapping your arm to get your attention for the flt attendant
-- It's hard to make plans with 3 ppl using txt only. Especially when one of you is not familiar with the city
-- Sbux close to hotel - win
-- long fur coat + 70 yrs old +  Uggs = fail
-- Sunday morning in the city is when all dog owners walk their dogs to sbux when they get coffee. Have counted at least 6 dogs outside the door.
-- When train doors open they always say doors closing.
-- Two German guys riding train taking video out window. Cute.
-- What is it with ppl who drive caddy's.
-- Not one really great Oscar gown? Really?
-- Midway is packed
-- What's with ppl blocking the moving walk ways
-- My daughter never slouched. It seems she was unique among children.
-- Want to smack the mother of the boys sitting behind me on the plane. She should not be allowed to travel alone with children.

***

Make of it what you will. More later.

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 12:00 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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June 01, 2010

And I'm Back

Yes, I've been gone... How could you tell?  I've barely been able to post lately because of work and then I leave town with the intention of staying offline.  I was mostly successful.

Of course the travel days are blog fodder of the highest caliber. I need to travel more just to have something to blog.

We met a young woman (maybe early 30's) who has flown so little, she thought when they said "turn off your electronics" they meant cell phone and laptop - she was a bit embarrassed when they stopped by her seat and told her that included her ipod too. 

In the seats behind us, my husband overheard a woman tell the person next to her "Planes have an easier time flying through white clouds than through gray ones". 

But even more fun was when our plane pulled in to the gate.  We look outside and see a couple of police cars - lights on - down on the tarmac.  That's a new one. No actual police in evidence... that's because they were all in the jetway - about 8 of them.  Turns out they were there to arrest someone on the plane.  Definitely a new one.  

Had no idea.  There was no uproar during the flight.  I even missed them walking the perp out of the plane because naturally I had made a mad dash to the restroom as soon as I got into the terminal. I did manage to catch some of it when they stopped in the gate area across from the restrooms to cuff him and (one assumes) read him his rights.  He was either very drunk or very high... but quiet. He could barely walk a straight line.  So three cops led him away, the others got on bicycles and pedaled down the terminal.  Heh.  (who knew cops rode bikes in airports)

Nothing nearly so entertaining happened on the way home.  We had a completely disabled/very sick person on the first leg of the flight.  This meant we were delayed for about an hour while they got this person on the plane and then tended to (looked like a "her" but I couldn't be 100% sure). 

In the seat in front of us was a woman who was late 60's early 70's.  It was a full flight and this being Southwest Airlines she had taken an aisle seat, then proceeded to put the tray table down for the seat next to hers and put stuff on it!  That didn't last long, but after being delayed it just added extra time while people waited for her to move her stuff so they could sit.  (naturally she stuck to her aisle seat like glue and they had to crawl over her).

Twice during the flight she got up and went to the restroom at the front of the plane.  The first time worked well for her - she actually found it.  The second time she made it to the bulkhead closets where the flight attendants keep their stuff.  The closet is about 1 foot wide. (even though she was a tiny woman, she could not have fit in there)  She looked at the door for about 20 seconds, examined the latch that kept it closed very carefully, looked around the back and saw the exit door.  Then she opened the closet, saw it was not the restroom, closed it again.  Looked again toward the front of the plane and realized it was a bit farther on.

As we were leaving the plane I found she spoke no English at all.  My tip for the day... if you are going to travel in a country where you don't speak the language, at least be able to say - "my suitcase is the one with... (Insert description here)".  The poor guy who was trying to help her thought she was pointing to the cane someone had stuck up in the bin.

The last leg of the flight had entertainment provided by an elderly man who appeared to have early Parkinsons or something of that sort. He sat in the very first row where he could continually badger the flight attendants about when we would arrive.  (I don't know what exactly he was going to do if he didn't get the answer he wanted... jump out the door to get there faster?).

There was some turbulence near the end of the flight. The flight attendants and the captain announced - about 5 times each - that all electronics had to be put away, seats needed to be upright, tray tables up.  The two people in front of us decided the annoying instructions did not pertain to them.  The flight attendant had to ask them (very nicely and apologetically) three more times, could they please shut the computers off and stow them.  Also could they please put their tray tables up and could she please put her seat upright instead of reclined.  Personally I would have smacked them and said "listen up idiots" but that's why I'm not a flight attendant.

Luckily the turbulence turned out to be less than expected.  That's a good thing.  However, if these two had gotten hurt, you can bet they'd sue the airline into bankruptcy. 

I'll only touch briefly on the guy behind us traveling with two near teens... as we were landing, he was trying to point out various landmarks. When he saw it had been raining his amazement knew no bounds.  He was simply astounded that it had rained and there was water on the streets.  Even though he lives in Providence, this quirk of the weather to dump water on the ground was pronounced an incredible thing.

Ah the joys of flying. 

Oh... where did we go?  Texas.  Austin/San Antonio.  More on this tomorrow. 


Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:05 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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March 11, 2010

Racoons in the Attic - AKA: Adventures in Travel

So I'm finally back from the big Midwest tour. 

The rest is below the fold so you can skip it if you are bored by traveler's tales. 

more...

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:21 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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March 04, 2010

Ah Airports

Well, here I am at the airport waiting for my flight.  Joy.  It's snowing lightly.  Let's hope that's not enough to stop traffic. 

I always get to the airport early.  I'd far rather get to the gate early than dash in at the last minute.  Not that I like sitting in the airport, but I'm always paranoid about some ridiculous thing causing me to miss a flight.  I guess if I flew more it wouldn't bother me so much - but I doubt it.  It's one of those weird quirks. 

Good thing about getting here a bit early, I was able to get some work done and now I don't have to worry about it.  That's a good thing.  However this waiting area is playing some sort of cartoon for kids.  There are no kids, but hey there "might be" some kids so they have cartoons.  If they were good cartoons it would be one thing, but from what I'm hearing it doesn't sound very good, not funny.  Why couldn't they play looney toons? 

In other news... I put on the wrong pair of socks this morning.  Unfortunately these are a pair that tends to slip down as I walk.  Very annoying.  First order of business may be buying some new socks while I'm in Chicago. (because when you think "shopping in Chicago" you think socks - right?)  Of course I did bring more socks, but it looks as if it won't be enough since I now remember I pulled out 2 pair of these yesterday and one is packed.  Ho-hum. 

I keep forgetting how the trackpad on this laptop works.  There's a special area to swipe to make the page scroll.  I am always reverting to the Apple method (the same method used on my netbook) of a 2 finger swipe.  I have to do that about 10 times before I remember how this trackpad works.  I need new braincells.

Now off to check work mail then maybe get some reading in.  The excitement never ends.

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:20 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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March 02, 2010

It's Going to be a Hugely Busy Week

I am headed to the Midwest on Thursday.  Going to stop in Chicago and see the kids, make a detour up to Wisconsin, then head to St. Louis to see my mom and sister and one of my good friends from back in my college days.

I call this the great Midwest loop.  I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to go with all carry-on luggage or if I'm going to check a bag.  I hate checking bags, so it's a conundrum - this is a much longer trip than my usual 4 day weekend jaunts. 

In the meantime, I have work to get done.  I have to make lists... lots and lots of lists so I don't forget anything vital. 

I leave in 2 days. 

My head just may explode.

Stay tuned.
 

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:46 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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January 16, 2010

More Travel Stories

Possibly tomorrow. 

I'm off for a one night jaunt to Cleveland again.  Just like last year.  It's some face time - people I work with only over the phone and email - and this, while inconvenient as far as the travel goes, is a good thing. 

Luckily for me I am NOT flying out of Logan this weekend as once again the Prez has decided to grace the city with his presence.  I'm hoping for only a short airspace delay going to the Providence airport rather than the total airport shut down that accompanies AF-1 landing.

We shall see.  It's all blog fodder folks. 

Posted by: Teresa in Travel at 11:15 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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