Long day – I need to rethink this


Long day, half way through. I did not get great views of Seattle on the way in. It was cloudy and rainy coming in with a few peaks of the ground here and there.
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The airport was nice. I came into the S concourse and needed to take the train to the A concourse. I had about 50 min so there was time for a quick bathroom break and that was about it. They had some neat painted windows.
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Our departure from Seattle back to Minneapolis was delayed about 40 min or so. There was something behind the plane so we could not push back until it was moved….. And it took 30 min or so to get that done. There were a number of different carriers.
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This made the connection for the Anchorage flight really tight…. Especially if I needed to change to another concourse. I was not too concerned because I’d flown in and out of MSP a number of time and had pretty good mental map of where I would need to go. The sunset was awesome during our approach.
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Fortunately, the flights were across from one another…. I was able to walk off one and get right in line for the next. They were already boarding zone 2, so I ended up with my bad under my seat…. Quite the unpleasant 5 hours. Not so bad if you are exit row or economy comfort…. But I was not. Arrived in Anchorage, had dinner did some airport shopping.. Changed into some clean clothes and am now ready to go the other way!

Some snaps from the airport.
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These looked like they were made from boat (ship) props.

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I was hoping to see northern lights… but does not look like this trip.

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The view from seat 19a


The take off from DTW was great.  Smooth ride and good views today.  I like the fact that I can see the reflection of the planes body in the cowling of the engine.

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Listening to TED radio and having snack time…. Kind of a mile high lunch and learn. 🙂

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Today’s adventure – 10,400 miles 6 stops in 48 hours


Today, I’m making my first status run to Alaska with some intetesting routing or fill out the miles to get my gold status for next year. Leaving on the first leg DTW to SEA. Looks like a beautiful day to fly – cool, crisp, and sunny. The promise of the day hangs in the air…
Excited to depart!

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Spillway below Lake Lavon


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While the area has seen lots of rain lately (3+ inches last weekend) Lake Lavon below the spillway on the East Fork of the Trinity River you would not know it.

There is a fishing per between the spillway and the train bridge on the right. 

The night before we flew well past Dallas to avoid the storms and landed in heavy rain.  I think it was cooler in TX than it was in MI when we left.

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Tulsa Time


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Sometimes you have to be reminded that you are living on Tulsa Time :).   I do miss it at times.

A world of options –


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I started to do more research and found a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.  That flight started out at just under $800 and was going to be about 5 days in length.  I was really excited about the prospect of making this trip.  I was looking into a train ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town; however, it looked like you needed at least two days to make that trip (each way) so I did not have enough time to do this….. but there seemed to be enough stuff to keep me busy for a couple of days.  To make the trip at the best price I would need to leave on a Thursday evening and return on Monday or Tuesday.  The return flight took two days to make.

I put in for the time off request and it seemed like it was going to be a go, then I got news that I could not take the Friday off due to a staffing conflict.  Looking at other dates, the price was going up to around $900 and was starting to encroach on some other things I had planned.

I briefly looked at a China trip, but then I ran into similar issues with timing…. Hawaii was a good price at around $700, but would rather wait and take that trip with my family.  What I ended up settling on was a weekend trip to Alaska.

This will be a quick adventure – but the miles and price were right.  At $450, I’m getting about just a bit over 10,000 miles.  The trip will be three legs each way:

              Detroit (DTW) to Seattle (SEA)

              Seattle (SEA) to Minneapolis (MSP)

              Minneapolis (MSP) to Anchorage (ANC)

Then I get four hours from 8 pm to Midnight in Alaska – probably enough time to get a bite and cruise the airport for a bit.  The return trip goes

              Anchorage (ANC) to Seattle (SEA)

              Seattle (SEA) to Atlanta (ATL)

              Atlanta (ATL) to Detroit (DTW)

I’ve got window seats throughout the whole series of flights…. So maybe I can get some interesting pictures.

Where do you want to go today?


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In researching my current status run – I looked at the following options as destination possibilities:

Moscow, Russia

Johannesburg, South Africa

Beijing,  China

Anchorage, Alaska

Honolulu, Hawaii

I started looking at around a $500 price point as a goal to see what I could find.  In this price range for flights was Alaska and Russia.   My first preference was for an international destination just for the experience – I really cherish the experience of being able to see another culture that is different from my own and look at things through that lens. So first up was Moscow –

Detroit (DTW) to Moscow (SVO) – The airfare on this route looks really attractive, about $595 for the round trip!  This was about 10,000 – 12,000 miles round trip depending on the routing and could connect through Paris (CDG) or The Netherlands (AMS) as international connection points.  I would need to leave on a Thursday and return on a Monday to make this trip work at the $595 price point.  This route did not allow for an official stop over, but you could get a 7 – 8 hour layover at the international connection point which would allow for some site seeing.   I could find a reasonable hotel for between $60 and $130 a night within reasonable distance to Red Square.

Where this trip started to break down for me was in the Russian Visa costs for the trip.  You can only apply for a visa within 90 days of your trip, and it takes about 2 weeks to get the visa processed (assuming you have everything you need).  First you need to have a “letter of invitation” from someone inside the country.   You can get this from your hotel when you book, but if you cancel your booking they charge you for the letter.  Your sponsor would be your hotel if you went this route…. The letter could determine the type of tourist visa you got (Single Entry, Double Entry, Multiple Entry [3 years]).  The single and double entry have exact days on them (or at least that was my understanding).  If you work through a Visa agency, they will supply the letter for a cost and would be more likely to get you the 3 year multi-entry version.  It all seems like a method to extract money.   I started to research the Visa a bit more and this was going to run me another $325 – $350 on top of the airfare (so was not looking at a minimum of about $1,000 real cash assuming I did the hotel on points).

Even with the costs mounting, it was still an exciting prospect to see Russia (in November).   I did some research on the tourism and etc. and found a few really interesting things – For fun, I would recommend checking out the “Real Russia YouTube Channel

The turning point was the final item researching the exchange rates and banking – I wanted to make sure that I knew what brand of ATM’s I could go to get local currency without getting killed with fees.  Come to find out that my bank did not have any partners in the country and that meant that any cash needed would need to be exchanged at the airport and I would need to bring it with me (or use my credit card).  As I started to think about all the challenges here, I decided to see what else I could do for less than the spend on a Moscow trip.

More to come.