Four Cities, One 6AM flight, One redeye and 26.2 miles

June 17, 2010

This was one of those travel itineraries that seemed like a reasonable thing at the time.  Once it hits your calendar, you’re saying to yourself, “Why did I do that?”  Four cities, one 6AM flight, one redeye flight, a marathon (literally,) over 4800 miles, plus the 26.2 I ran.

FIRST LEG

This was the most pleasureable leg of the week as it was vacation prior to the “murderer’s row” of travel that was awaiting me when I returned from vacation travel.  I’d selected Steamboat Springs, Colorado as the latest destination marathon in my home state of Colorado.  Runner’s World coined the race one of the most scenic destination marathon’s and was Travel Channel’s Most Scenic Run’s in North America.

img_4610Given that I live in Colorado, it was a bit ironic since I don’t remember ever going to Steamboat, but my mom insists that I’ve been there.  (I think she was thinking about Breckenridge.)  Given that I’d run the Boston Marathon in April, some thought I was crazy to even think about running another one only seven weeks apart (but if you know marathon runners, they are a bit manic about their sport.)

If you are looking for bargains, early June is the perfect time of year to hit Steamboat Springs.  Considered to still be in the “mud season” which is that time between winter skiing and all a resort has to offer in the summer, it’s considered “off-season.”  I shopped VRBO and a newcomer I discovered PackLate for the best price with a criteria of high end townhome at budget pricing.  Steamboat Resorts beat them both with a marathon runner’s discount at the price of two low end Marriott TownSuite rooms.  As a footnote, I’ve used VRBO often and learned about PackLate while searching for the right vacation home on this trip.  A great concept that’s similar to VRBO, but prices decrease as you approach your trip date.  Great for last minute vacations.

Ghost Ranch SaloonSince we’d invited family and friends, we went “large” and booked a five bedroom townhome at Cimarron Townhomes in Steamboat.  Everything was “top shelf;” Viking appliances, granite countertops, fireplace in the master, heated floors (didn’t need that,) pool table, attached garage and timber beam construction.  The city itself blew me away as it’s a bit off the typical I-70 corrider ski resorts (of Breckenridge, Winter Park and Vail) with smaller town mountain charm and luxury if you seek it out.

You might say Steamboat has “range” with the local flavored Boathouse Pub next to the roaring Yampa River, Ghost Ranch Saloon offering local bands to the high-end Bistro CV which was one of the best meals I have had in a long time (it didn’t hurt that I’d run 26.2 miles prior to the meal.)  Chef’s Brian and Kevin could command 5 stars and a line in any city.  Steamboat is lucky to have this hidden gem.

Our personal watering hole favorite was the Boathouse Pub which literally sat on the Yampa River which was raging from the heavy winter which will provide a challenging and exciting summer for rafting and kayakers.

For those travelers that are also runners, you can check out my Steamboat Marathon blog write up, “More Cows than Cowbells.”

SECOND AND THIRD LEG

After a vacation that was way too short, we loaded up the car for the 166 mile car ride back to Denver.  After unloading, I had a mere few hours before heading to bed for my six AM flight to San Francisco.  Do the math…I typically leave two hours before a flight which meant a 3:30AM wake-up call (two days removed from running a high altitude marathon.)  Two days of meetings (blah…blah…blah…) went well, but was once again highlighted by a great Northern Italian restaurant, Osteria in Palo Alto, California.  Osteria is one of many great Northern Italian restaurant Nolachoices in downtown Palo Alto within walking distance of after dinner bars such as Nola’s restaurant and New Orleans style bar.

The ugly part of the agenda was a red-eye to Atlanta after dinner in Palo Alto on Wednesday night.  I’ve tried everything including the inflatable cresent shaped pillows you see at the airport to try and sleep on a plane, and the best I can manage is maybe a couple hours sleep.  My reward was hopping into my rental car and working my way through rush hour traffic to get to an Embassy Suites room for a couple quick emails, a 30 minute cat nap, and shower.  $100 for an hour in a hotel room, and this wasn’t an hourly establishment.  I managed to get through the meeting, a lunch, then off to the airport for the flight home.

I finished the week with WIFI at the airport Starbucks at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, and a well-deserved upgrade on United on the way home.  Goes without saying that the sheets and home pillow felt great that night as I was “out” before I hit them.

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I Bounced Grandma from the Exit Row

February 25, 2010

grandma-exit-row-2

We’ve all seen those TV shows that show a situation that’s not quite right and see what happens when someone witnesses the event…shows like 20/20 that show the boyfriend yelling at a girlfriend, a parent yelling at a child, or the one with the homeless person that appears to be seriously injured.

I walked into one of those situations on my flight this week. What do you do when you see an elderly person first on the plane escorted down the aisle in a wheelchair only to see them placed in the emergency exit row? I was first in line for seating area 1 on United on my flight to San Francisco and was somewhat perturbed when I saw a couple walk past me to the front of the line. I “cut them some slack” when their mother (I can only surmise) was wheeled up to the front of the line with them.

I tend to roll with it when traveling because life is too short and you’re bound to deal with all types of mishaps when living the life on the road.

Anyway…the flight attendants are going through their pre-flight safety instructions and ask for the FAA verbal response that you’re “ready, willing, and able” to assist in the unlikely event of an emergency.

I was sitting in the adjacent row behind the woman in the wheelchair who had been placed in the exit row ahead of me. I admit that it mildly registered with me at the time, because I was too busy with my paper and Sudoku to fully take notice or do something about it.

As the flight wore on, I began to wonder….hmmm, this flight goes down, will that 90 pound grandmother who was wheeled on be able to handle the 40-50 pound door in the midst of the panic surrounding a real emergency (like the plane that landed on the Hudson River last year)—will she bolt out of her chair, un-harness the emergency exit door hudson-river2and shuttle people to the inflatable ramp…I thought…not very likely.

My keen one hour delayed reaction prompted me to head to the galley and pose the question to the flight attendants…”are you ready, willing and able if you boarded the plane on a wheelchair?” I entered the conversation with the caveat that it’s not really my business and I don’t want to get Grandma in trouble, but felt something should be said.

I was duly impressed with the United Airlines flight attendant response—they were very professional, cordial and pleasant in hearing about the situation and promptly took care of the situation by placing her in a non exit row.

The FAA has some funky rules…why can’t I wear my Bose headset during takeoff if it’s merely in noise reduction mode…I’ve been told that’s because you need to be able to hear the pilot in the event of an important safety message…hmmm, does that mean we won’t allow the deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy air flight? Ask Kevin Smith and Southwest airlines about the “oversized” person who occupies more than one seat about airline and FAA rules.

Having said that, I have newfound respect for the exit row “ready willing and able” rule. I’ll help granny off the plane, but I don’t want her clogging the only exit to safety.

As an aside, I get off the plane and see a friend within five minutes of getting off the plane near See’s candy at SFO. I promptly tell him to sign up for Jetwerk so “running into friends won’t be just a coincidence.”

(from Jetwerk Member Ty)

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Why use Jetwerk? Reason # 7.

December 20, 2009

U2 at the Rosebowl 2009Why use Jetwerk? Well that’s a good question, why would I want to know if a buddy was in the same town or even going to the same event as me? I will tell you why, because it’s fun! Recently something happened where I wished my friend had been signed up in Jetwerk. And why am I calling it Reason #7? It seemed like a good number.

Not to long ago my wife and I went to see U2 at the Rosebowl. So a couple of weeks before the show I entered that concert in my Jetwerk. Not only is Jetwerk great for trips out of town but very handy when going to events in and out of town. Once I entered the date of the concert my friends in Jetwerk got the notice and some even emailed me wishing they were going.

We arrive early to the show to take in the tailgating and excitement of the pre-show activities. As we were walking across the field towards our section I see my friend Michael and his wife Donna up ahead. I’m not really surprised since Michael is a huge fan of U2 and the Edge. I do I wish I had known since we could have met up early and had some drinks before the show. But we do end up hanging out for a bit talking and it turns out Michael had just come back from 2 weeks in NYC working with his band the Low Millions. I had just come back from NYC. He was bummed wishing he had known. “Michael!!” almost screaming, “ …this is why we have Jetwerk! This is why in sent you an invite so we would know ahead of time. We could have had a great hang in the big apple! “  Michael is currently is a member of Jetwerk.

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Mt. Fuji Road Trip

November 2, 2009

fujibmw Being inspired by Tim’s post The Road Trip and the iphone, I was happy when we had finally completed our plans for the next Road Trip.

We spent the first part of the weekend in Osaka and made this are embarking point. Bright and early (very early, and hot coffee ready to go) Sunday morning we set out for our two day adventure at Mount Fuji. Borrowing Grandma’s BMW made the trip a lot more fun, at least for me, doing the driving is one of my favorite parts of a Road Trip… and off we go in German comfort. The expressways in Japan are typically expensive, but there is a promotion on some tollways at the moment using the ETC (Electronic Toll Collection System) system, so if you have that installed in your car, you are only charged for the day on the tollways, this saved us about a lot! (roughly US$80)

On the way to Fuji (from the Kyoto/Osaka direction) you pass by Lake Hamana, with a great roadside rest area right on the lake. This is the fun of a road trip, making stops along the way wherever something interesting catches your attention. Straight through (in good traffic averaging ~120kph) it might take 4 hours or so, but we made several stops along the way at various rest areas and sampled the local offerings (food, snacks, souvenirs), markets and parks, all in all it took us a bit over 6 hours to get to the town of Fuji and bit more to find our way towards the mountain to our (interestingly unique) resort hotel.

fujikidsworld We booked our two night stay at, get this, “Children’s World” on Mount Fuji. It’s an incredibly fun place on huge site with all kinds of outdoor and indoor activities, along with a hotel, restaurant and Japanese bath for hotel guests. The hotel (Japanese style rooms) and the restaurant (Cafeteria type food) are nothing too special as such, but that simply adds to the immersion experience, you almost feel like you are camping in kid-like comfort, just the mere fact that you can stay in a place like this is incredible. Fuji Kid’s World is one of those places where you can just let you kids out to go and play… and off they go! The Japanese bath is a great place to hang out (literally) and take in the view of Mt. Fuji out the window.

The big question, did we climb it? Short answer is No. Fuji is really only climbable by your average tourist in the summer time. Due to snow on the mountain, we were only able to drive as far as the first station and take in the view from there. Climbing Mt. Fuji will be for another time, this time just hanging out and playing in the fields below the mountain was plenty good enough. And of course, a Road Trip does wonders for the soul, especially when the driving destination is one of the most famous mountains in the world.

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The Road Trip and the iphone

August 29, 2009

Raod Trip with my iphoneThere are many ways to travel, and it’s not always about rushing to the airport to get to your destination. There are times where one must take the car, yes the car, a good ole’ road trip. Something about the getting in your car just before the sun comes up with a cup of coffee in the cup holder, the kids still half asleep. And stopping for pancakes a couple of hours away as the sun is coming up.

Having taken many road trips as a kid I felt it was time to let my kids have that same experience. Granted it wasn’t easy convincing my daughter that the 2 day trip in a car was going to be as fun as taking the 2 hour plane trip, but gotta love the portable DVD dual screen for those long rides thru the desert. She still wants to take a plane on the next trip.

On this trip I decided instead of the ways of my dad of driving straight to our destination only to stop for bathroom breaks much like the Great Santini. I wanted to see a bit of the sights along the way, Zion and the Arches in Moad Utah.

Now the one thing that made this trip great was my new iphone! Sure it was fun to see where we were on the map, bookmark the hotel where we where staying. But the best part was finding coffee places and places to eat by using 2 apps called Vicinity and Yelp. God Bless those apps! The highlight was finding the one of the best sandwich places I have been to. The Love Muffin Café in Moad Utah. Made it easy to find our Mc D’s iced coffees. Although not hard to miss with the glowing golden arches acting like homing devices to guiding the wayward travelers to a Big Mac.

Now the other fun we had with the iphone was my constant tweeting to let my family in Denver have a way to follow us on the trip. Of course afterwards realized if anyone outside my family was following us on twitter knew we were away could have stopped by the house and take what they needed. So I don’t recommend doing that.

And of course my buddy Chris just happened to be passing thru Denver while we were there. How did I know, Jetwerk of course!

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Another Day at the Airport

July 29, 2009

Another Day at The AirportIt started off as a typical travel day. I mean I travel every week and based on the million’s of air miles I’ve logged, I really thought I’d seen everything. Boy, was I wrong! The day started with an afternoon in court (I’ll save that story for another blog) and then off to the airport skipping dinner in order to get there on time. I get to the parking garage and go to retrieve the iPod from the gym bag to transfer to the travel bag, damn no iPod.! I realized I had left it at the gym, like I’ll ever see that again.

The Oakland flight is “delayed by only 30 minutes” they say, oh, I’ve starred in that movie before; it smells like at least an hour to me. I get the boarding pass for Oakland and attempt to fly into SFO. Then move into the Premier Executive line and work on trying to at least make it to the hotel for dinner tonight. The only problem is that there are three agents serving Premier Executive and the 1K’s. Only two in line in the 1K line, and I’m at the front of the Premier Exec. line. They only handle one every few minutes and the 1K’s keep filling the red carpet line. You get the picture, at this pace I will never get to an agent, to my hotel or eat dinner!

20 minutes later after I ask if I will ever talk to an agent, so they bring someone else over to see if they can help. “I can put you on SFO, but you’ll only get in 15 minutes early” she said. At this point I’ve lost the energy and I settle for Oakland. Sure enough, it turns into an hour plus delay. No biggie, but we must have hit a headwind because it took FOREVER to get there. So much for catching the last few innings of the Rockies vs. Dodgers game.

Upon arrival, there’s a full on Jerry Springer show happening live a few rows behind me! Something having to do with the seats leaning all the way back combined with kids pushing the trays up and down. It got ugly real fast with the parents slinging back and forth. The only thing missing was the paternity test. Just get me out of here! I got into my car (Thanks National) and started my drive over the San Mateo Bridge, which had a calming effect over what had just happened.

A smile starts to come across my face as I checked into the hotel and had that glass of wine I was dreaming about hours ago and proceeded to log into the Hotels WIFI. I needed to send a couple work emails and check my personal stuff. My broadband vendor’s network was down due to a hacker attack, but the support dude was kind enough to point me to their mobile portal, so I got what I needed. The good news is I made it through the day, I have my glass of wine and the Marriott San Mateo is not a bad place to spend a night.

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Jetwerk in Action

July 19, 2009

Jerry, Me and PatI love when I get that email telling me when a friend is coming to town! Two weeks ago I got the notification that my buddies Jerry McPhearson and Pat Buchanan were coming to town for business. They were coming out to play at the Hollywood Bowl with Faith Hill and Jetwerk gave me enough time to make sure I had the chance to see them.

Now what makes this story worth blogging about is that I wrote about Jerry and Pat in my first blog called The Jetwerk Experiment. I talked about how common it is to run into friends while you are traveling but would love to have a heads up as to when it would it happen. Nothing worse then leaving a city to find out you missed someone you wished you could have hung with. That’s why I believe Jetwerk is the best social network site for travelers and why we keep forging ahead to make it better. It’s all about making running into friends while traveling easier.

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4th of July

July 5, 2009

TehachapiThere are times when its good to just forget about having to plan a trip, book a flight and deal with travel itineraries. Sometimes all you need to do is jump in the car and drive. And that’s exactly what I did with my family for the 4th of July weekend.

Now have you ever been to a 4th of July parade in a small town? Well we did this weekend in the town of Tehachapi California, population 11,000. Traveling sometimes doesn’t always have to involve an airplane, and there are those times when a good road trip by car is needed.

We drove in on the afternoon of the 3rd where that evening was the monthly town party where everyone would gathered to see the paintings and sculptures of the local artists. There was also Mama Hilly Beans coffee shop which is a throwback to the 60’s folk boom where you would find the locals discussing politics, drinking coffee and listening to acoustic music.

On the day of the 4th all the activities were centered in the main park where there was the pancake breakfast at 8 am in support of the local High School football team. It was the first time I would get my pancakes and sausage served with a group of guys yelling “BREAK” after each serving. Later there was a fiddle contest, face painting, popcorn, a wiener dog race and parade with 1/2 the town in it. I felt I had just stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. The people in Tehachapi were genuine, when they smiled you knew they really meant it.

That is the beauty of traveling, the wonderful little surprise’s that come out of a trip and the magic in those places. Now it’s back to twittering, blogging, business travel, jetwerking, facebooking, …

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Summer around the world

July 1, 2009

robsummertravelmap
With summer now upon us and my travel plans mostly (or at least roughly) planned and booked, the time has come to embark on two months of hectic, and exciting, travel. This is also an excellent itinerary to really exercise my Jetwerk and see what the big experiment turns up.

[the picture is a snapshot from my actual Jetwerk homepage after entering all of my trips]

It is not unusual for our family to have complicated travel schedules, with some of the family off to one destination for summer events and others off in separate directions.

And so the planning begins: My wife embarks first on a trip with our two older children to Australia leaving me with our baby at home (Kyoto) for a few days before the two of us set off for Bali to all meet up the following week. At some point, I need to get back to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks of work in the main office, and while I am in the U.S., this is a good time to also take care of some other business there in the Bay Area and Spokane. Since my wife will have extra help from friends and family in Bali we figure that it should be manageable for me to spend about 3 weeks in the US, that this will be a reasonable compromise: not being away from the family -too- long and making sure I have enough time to get all the things done in the US that have to be done. Needless to say, 3 weeks away from the family is still a very long time! On the bright side, it’s not bad to get the family to Bali for 2 months and still get to spend 1 of those months with them… no, not bad at all.

And after planning, plotting, searching, researching, booking, and rebooking, here’s the trip list that finally ended up in Jetwerk.

robsummertravellist

Typically, a complicated set of trips has (or should have) room for flexibility, some of these dates are rough estimates, some of the actual trips have yet to be solidly booked, but it is important to first know what you are planning to do… you can always edit your trips later, and I mostly likely will.

Ready for takeoff! Here we go:

  • Osaka to Tapei
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The Sydney Morning Herald talks about Jetwerk

June 27, 2009

AustraliaJetwerk is being talked about around the world. We found ourselves in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month.

Jetwerk (jetwerk.com) works along similar lines, calling itself a “social networking service that enhances travel experiences for business and entertainment professionals”. The website is designed for business travelers to maximize the time they have by knowing who is going to be at the same place at the same time.

Jetwerkers simply upload their business travel dates and destinations and the site cross-checks with other members to see who will be there when you are. It’s your choice whether to connect with them.

Doesn’t matter where you are in the world Jetwerk makes for a great travel planner by keeping you connected with your friends while traveling..

Check out the article yourself here at the Sydney Morning Herald

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