One Million Miles

Not yet, but that’s what I’m shooting for.

After almost 10 years at my last job, travelling to the work sites every week, and my propensity for travelling any place that I can, I’ve racked up just over 904,000 miles just on United alone. Most of those were on Continental before the merger, but I’ve added a good amount since.

If you want to count ALL my miles, I’ve done well over a million total on various airlines. At one point I had 240,000 on American, but they cancelled my account for lack of use (good riddance, I say).

With my new job, I don’t travel nearly as much. In fact, NOT travelling every week was kind of why I took it. After all – I rather enjoy spending time with the wife. The new job is mostly local, with occasional travel. I travel maybe 4 times per year, usually half of that is vacation.

So, where I used to accrue 75,000 or more miles per year, I now sometimes don’t even reach enough for elite status. Of course, I have a way to maintain the lowest tier if necessary, and I’ve put that to use a few times.

What I need now is a way to cheaply and quickly earn 96,000 miles. Based on miles, I think I can do that with 5 round trips to Bangkok. (Or maybe only 3 with some business trips to Seattle scattered over the next couple of years.)

Hmm… maybe I’ll pop over for a dinner of green curry a couple of times.

Travel Updates

I’ve updated my travel maps to reflect the new countries I’ve visited: Iceland and Norway. I didn’t add any new airports to the ever-growing list this time since we got there by boat, but I have to say that I will definitely want to go back to both places in the future.

We are currently parsing through the thousands of pictures we took and will eventually post them on the gallery.


You can take that in a couple of ways. First, at least chronologically, we have surfaced from our dives and our vacation in fine diving form. In fact, we both took and passed our Advanced Open Water diving certification!

Yay, us!

It was a very good refresher course for us, so much so that Laura even got so excited about diving that she didn’t want to stop!

We loved it in the Keys – it was very relaxing and laid back. We are definitely going back… just not to Miami. Miami wasn’t so great – way too hectic and crowded for a vacation.

Secondly, and most important, I’m typing this blog entry on my brand new Surface! Full disclosure dictates that I tell you that Microsoft is my employer, but even so – this thing is way cool. I’m going on a couple of hours with hardly a dent in the battery. It’s a little small, but that’s to be expected of a tablet device.

Any way you slice it, It’s a cool machine.

Florida It Is

We’ve now made plans and it looks like it will be the Florida Keys for some diving. Yay!

We’ve got the airfare and rental car, now we just need some place to stay… 🙂

The Florida Keys is the place that started Dive Turkey and I will enjoy going back, this time with a camera. Hopefully, I will get some good pictures of wrecks and reefs and colorful fish.

It will not be the same, though, since I will be the only one there from the original trip. While there, I will remember our one-time dive-buddy Jason.

I will especially miss him on this trip to the first Dive Turkey location.

Travel Planning

Planning a trip is hard. Planning a dive trip is harder. Planning a dive drip with good places to do dive photography while worrying about luggage restrictions, cost, and other photographic considerations is even harder.

I’m trying to figure out the best place to go and the best dates so that we can both relax and do some diving photography. Our last trip [the diving portion at least] was unsatisfactory due to water conditions and my general “blah” feeling about it that particular week.

Before that was Belize, and while the trip as a whole was magnificent, as was the diving, I was unable to produce any stellar pictures from that trip.

I think I need more practice. Hence, the dive trip planning that is so frustrating.

It’s hard to do underwater photography when you’re caught drifting, like in Cozumel, or is cloudy cold water, like Cabo. So – what you need is a calm place, deep wildlife [so that sunlight won’t interfere with the camera’s flash and turn everything blue] and of course nice accommodations. Hard to find.

I’m thinking Hawaii or Roatan or the Bahamas or… well, there’s tons of places, but making the decision is hard.

And then, of course, there’s the price.

Gotta keep that in mind. 😐

Travel Rememberences

Today, Laura and I sit in our room overlooking the San Diego Marina and try to relax a little. This is a very different travel experience than I’ve had recently.

Up until the a couple of weeks ago, I’d been assigned to several projects at once and the resulting travel was chaotic, frequent, tiring, and unsatisfying. It brought up memories of working for IBM – back when I was on the road every week.

This travel “binge”, however, seemed worse to me. I think it was worse because I was never in the same place twice and was therefore always feeling uprooted and unable to form a workable routine. My workout routine practically died, and I gained some of my weight back. I was always tired and unable to focus on anything but work.

This trip, though, isn’t about the customer: it’s about me. That make a big difference. I’m here for training, which while work related, means that I’m here to learn and take in instead of “give out” and I need some of that now.

I’ve finished one rather unsatisfying project, and worked myself out of another, so I’m down to a single, primary project and that takes a lot of stress off of my shoulders.

After a week at home to rest up a bit, going on this trip with Laura feels almost like a vacation – even though I’ll be spending my days learning things.

Oh: and I get to add a new airport to my list as well… 🙂

Our Mexico Trip

I said in December that I would write about our vacation to Mexico, so I’d better do that – you know: keep my promise. It’s the right thing to do, you know.

We had intended to combine a beach vacation with Laura’s mother and a dive trip entailing several days of diving 4 for me, and 3 for Laura, only the Sunday I was supposed to start diving, I get a phone call at the room telling me the port is closed due to high water. Fortunately, I wasn’t really “feeling it” that morning and was in need of more vacation rest. Back to bed I went with no regret.

The next day, Laura and I made the taxi ride to the dive shop only to be turned down again by the port captain for high water. Even so, I was still not upset at not getting to dive – a miracle in itself. Tuesday, we called ahead and were told that all was good.

Once we arrived, we got on the boat – a very SMALL boat for our dives. Laura, at this point, is becoming very concerned due to the size of the boat both for the now-obvious method of water entry [the back roll, which she doesn’t like] and the relative size of the waves in comparison to the boat. Not to be deterred, we board and head out to the reef. After struggling to hold on to the boat for a while we squeeze into our gear and back-flop into the water. What we saw, I think, wasn’t worth the effort. The first dive was only moderately clear, maybe 30ft visibility. We did see two very large spotted eagle rays and two stingrays, but after a while it was time to come up. It was a passable dive.

Once on the boat, we began to feel queasy. For Laura, this was kind of expected with the water being so rough. What was not expected and far from normal was me, leaning over the side and tossing out the chorizo I had for breakfast. After that, we all felt better and decided on one more dive. We might have been better just heading back. Visibility was even worse and the current was now very strong. It was one of the most unsatisfactory dives I’ve had. We finally got back to shore and decided that we’d had enough diving for the trip. We had lunch at a great little restaurant in town and then headed back to the hotel where we were much more interested in lounging by the beach and pool and a couple of snorkeling outings.

We did have Thanksgiving dinner on Cozumel island and Pepe’s Grill. And yes, there was lobster on my plate.

Dream Vacation Property?

We don’t have one, but I’ve begun thinking about it. I know some of our friends either have a vacation home that they have for their sole use, or own a vacation rental property that they rent out.

In the first case, most seem to be old enough or sedentary enough to have spent 30 years in the same home – enough time to pay off the main residence to allow them to afford a second property and the mortgage that goes with it. That’s a great idea, and if I can accelerate the payoff of our main residence [which I’m now doing by paying above the payment amount] to be done in around 15 years, then we can focus our full “housing” budget on a new vacation home. That will take quite a bit of patience.

In the second case, I’ve seen friends buy an income-generating vacation rental property that they use to either pay off their existing house or pay off the vacation property with the net gain. Such a thing really doesn’t make sense unless there’s a net gain. I mean – why buy a property that you can’t stay in but a few week per year if it’s still going to cost you a big chunk to keep, right? Of course, doing it this way allows more than one vacation home location since there is a net gain. But then again, the downside would be that we couldn’t just show up at any time since there might be paying customers on site.

With these things in mind, and my initial dream location of a cabin/house/condo in the mountains of Colorado [subject to change upon spousal notification :)], I’ve decided to both accelerate paying off my existing loans [house & car] and begin saving for another house down-payment. This might take years and our goals may change, but saving at any time is a good idea.

So: in 15 years or so when I have many thousands of dollars in the bank and the current house paid off, there may be a ski chalet in our future… or a beach house… or even something else.