2015 Resolution #5 revisited

As of 8/13 I have visited 35 states. I had an amazing vacation in Alaska with my family last week. We visited Denali National Park and it was really beautiful. (Doesn’t that map look great with the giant state of Alaska colored in? I’m so proud.) We saw as much of the park as we could in five days, but I have already decided that I want to go back. Maybe next September. What better place to go during the dog days of summer (especially when you don’t have an air conditioner at home) but a place where the temperature peaks in the low 60’s, if you’re lucky. It was spectacular! My jackets haven’t gotten that much use in six months! As with so many other experiences I’ve had lately, I intend to write a much longer post about my Alaska vacation. I have a feeling that won’t happen anytime soon, though, based on the fact that I still haven’t finished writing about my trip to Hawaii in June. I am a terrible blogger! But I got sick on Wednesday when I flew back from Fairbanks so I’ll be spending a relaxing weekend at home (probably going through a whole box of Kleenex thanks to this miserable head cold) letting my body heal. Maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. Or not. But I digress. Barring a miracle, I probably won’t have a chance to visit any more new states in 2015. Adding two to my list this year isn’t bad, though! I’m happy with that. In the event that I get to go to DC for work sometime next year I have some preliminary plans for side trips. And I’ve also started dreaming up locations for next summer’s family vacation. It’s still going to take me a while for me to get to all 50 states, but now I only have 15 to go!

2015 Resolution #5 in progress

I’m back in Los Angeles today after my business trip, but I spent yesterday working on one of my New Year’s resolutions. I visited state #34 – New Jersey! (Based on NJ’s relative size, the above map is almost identical to the one I shared last year with only 33 states colored in, but there’s a subtle difference. And that’s what matters.) While there’s no way I’ll be able to visit as many new states as I did last year, I’m very happy to start making progress on new travel destinations in 2015. Even if they aren’t any more exciting than New Jersey. Ideally I would have checked this state off my list last year when I took a day trip to Delaware on the tail end of a business trip, but for some reason I didn’t drive the few extra miles to do so. Due to my laziness a special trip was required visit the Garden State. So I tacked an extra day on to the end of my latest pilgrimage to the DC office and took a road trip to New Jersey. It wasn’t really that far to drive, really. Just a couple of hours, right? Unfortunately traffic wasn’t on my side yesterday morning. It took me over three hours to drive through three states and finally get to Fort Mott State Park in the southern part of the state. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except I missed the last ferry of the day to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island that I really wanted to visit. So instead I just walked around the remains for Fort Mott for about an hour or so and headed back to the DC area. (Lucky for me the traffic going that direction was much better.) It was a short visit in state #34, but it counts! Even better, I’m going to be setting foot in state #35 in less than two weeks. I’m going to Alaska on vacation! More on that soon!

Hello new friend

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about saying good bye to my old suitcase that I bought in 1997. Well, a few days later I replaced it with a brand new carry on size suitcase, just in time for my business trip to DC this week. I wasn’t really in the mood to shop around all over the place for a suitcase so I went to Macy’s because they were having a sale. My first thought was to get a Victorinox since I love my larger suitcase from that line, but the cost blew me away! Even at half price they were way too expensive. The same thing turned out to be true of the other brands I was initially considering. It’s not that I couldn’t afford it, but I had no intention of breaking the bank for one little piece of luggage. This frugal stance led me to browsing through the Samsonites instead of the higher end brands. My old carry on was a Samsonite and it served me well for 18 years, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with another one. Unfortunately I wasn’t that crazy about the aesthetics of the latest models. Why are there so many weird pockets on the outside? Who needs those? But anyway, after mulling over my options for about half an hour I settled on a 21″ Samsonite with spinner wheels. Take a look at it in the above photo, hanging out in my “fashion forward” hotel room. (The polka dot chair matches exactly nothing else in the room.) It was a little funkier than I really wanted, but there weren’t exactly an abundance of choices in my price range. Besides the price, the main selling point was the color. It’s dark red and I love it. My biggest requirement for a suitcase is that it can’t be black. Seems like everyone has a black suitcase and I want mine to stand out from the crowd at baggage claim. Especially at the zoo that is LAX. It’s a little easier when I’m flying somewhere like Tallahassee that has a grand total of two baggage claim carousels! But I digress. I didn’t really have high expectations for my new little suitcase, but it has already overperformed on this trip. It easily held a week’s worth of clothes (work clothes and workout clothes), three pairs of shoes, all the necessary toiletries, and a large container of cookies that I brought for my DC co-workers. Not bad! And even though I was opposed to the spinner wheels at first, they made it easy to maneuver on most surfaces (although the Budget rental car parking lot is a challenge for any suitcase wheels). What a pleasant surprise! This could be the beginning of a beautiful travel-based friendship.

2015 Resolution #3 follow-up

I’m on a plane headed to DC for the week and this travel day has been quite an experience already. Between checking my bag and getting through security my flight was delayed by an hour and the gate changed. No big deal. I sat down for a leisurely breakfast and then wandered around the terminals to pass the time. (Today is the last day of Boeing on the Move 2015 and I wanted to rack up as many steps on my pedometer as possible before getting on the plane.) By the time I made it back to the second gate assignment it was in the process of changing again. And then as soon as people started lining up at that gate to board the plane, it changed again. I guess United decided to switch our flight to another plane since the original one was running late. I seriously contemplated sneaking on one of the three flights to Hawaii that were leaving from our terminal. In the end the flight to DC took off about two hours late. This kind of ruins my evening plans once we arrive, but I can be flexible. It should be an interesting week.

The purpose of this inflight blogging session wasn’t to share boring travel stories, though. Last night I was looking through all of my draft posts that I have been neglecting lately, and I realized a terrible trend. It’s one thing to have a backlog of fairly inconsequential posts waiting to be polished and published, but I’ve started a few on big and exciting events that I can’t believe I haven’t finished yet. Earlier this year I made a resolution to blog about events in a timely manner, but it’s a struggle for me. Finding the time and the motivation to write at the same time isn’t easy. I will continue to work on that going forward. The funny thing is, this post isn’t going to be about one of those big and exciting topics. Well, I guess it is a little bit, but only barely. I just want to make sure to tell this story before I completely forget about it.

On my way back from Hawaii I wrote about my bikini experience. Well, that was just half of the story. While getting ready for that trip I learned that by mid-June the bathing suit selection at most stores has dwindled down to almost nothing. Not only did this hinder my search for a bikini top that fit properly (as I documented in that post last month), but also for some bikini bottoms that would work with (or at least not clash with) whatever top I ultimately wound up with. Fortunately some of my old bikini bottoms still fit so I wasn’t quite as panicked about having something to wear with the black Rip Curl top that I was lucky enough to find. But on my last desperate trip to Aerie to complete my swimsuit collection for Maui I saw a purple bikini with white polka dots and little lobsters all over it. (See the photo above. Cute, right?) After discovering that Aerie bathing suit tops don’t fit my very well I didn’t even bother trying on the bandeau top, but the bottoms were just too adorable to pass up. And while they didn’t exactly match the black bikini top, it was still an acceptable combination and I loved wearing something whimsical on the beach in Hawaii. I was never one to follow fashion trends so why start now? I know this wasn’t the wrap up post that my amazing trip to Maui deserves, but I will work on that this week while I’m in DC. I promise!

Goodbye old friend

“This is my little Samsonite suitcase that I bought back in 1997 to take to Europe. It’s not readily identifiable as a Samsonite anymore because the badge got ripped off on one trip or another in the last couple of years so you’ll just have to trust me on the brand. … I took this picture on my way home from a business trip last August because I thought it might be my last trip with that suitcase and I wanted something to remember it by. Not that I have any reason to replace it at the moment, but I don’t think it will be too long before I do.”
01/21/14 webpage post

Well, one year after I posted this ode to my trusty little suitcase, I finally had to say goodbye. I bought it to go to Europe back in 1997 and it has served me well over the last eighteen years. After the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend in May I discovered that one of the wheels had completely fallen off which made it difficult to maneuver. And noisy! However, I still tucked it back in my closet when I got home and forgot about its shortcomings. Then at the last minute I decided to take a carry-on size suitcase rather than my larger one to Hawaii last month. I had completely forgotten about the missing wheel. Oops. When I arrived at LAX for my flight it was far too late to pick a different piece of luggage for my trip, though. Luckily it held up just fine and I got back to Los Angeles without any additional pieces falling off. I decided that trip to Maui was my old suitcase’s swan song, though. And what better way to go out? I’ve taken that little guy all over the world! But now it’s time to find a new travel companion for future adventures (and not-so-exciting business trips). I hope I can find something that will last just as long!

January travel

It’s my birthday, but I’m exhausted after a couple of busy days at Disney World, including a 10K this morning. So instead of penning something new I’m going to share a post I wrote on my flights from Long Beach to Orlando on Wednesday.

I’m on my way to Orlando right now and reveling in how easy this trip has been so far. I know I’ve said how awesome it is to fly out of the Long Beach airport before , but I’d like to reiterate it. It only took me about ten minutes to get to the airport this morning and there was virtually no traffic. So relaxing! And then there was only one person in front of me at the ticketing counter and the security line. Could it get any better? Yes! Free wifi not only in the airport terminal, but on my Jet Blue flight to Austin. That along with an empty middle seat beside me right now I think I’m in heaven. Too bad travel can’t always be this lovely.

Speaking of travel, I made a wish list back in December. Not a Christmas list or a birthday list (for those of us who have birthdays shortly after Christmas) or any other list of gifts that I’d like to receive, but a travel wish list. There are so many places I want to go and I figure it’s time to start making plans to visit them. Daydreaming about amazing trips is good, but making them happen is even better. I’m going to do everything I can to make 2015 a fantastic year, including as much travel as possible. (This might include a work trip to DC as well, but that’s OK as long as it doesn’t snow like last March! I also don’t mind because it means I can craft a side trip for personal enjoyment.) I’m still working on a more specific New Year’s resolution regarding travel because I want to make one that’s realistic. Like last year when I resolved to visit as many new states as possible. I think I did pretty well with six! I’m still going to try and visit new states in 2015 (including a family trip to Alaska in August), but that won’t be the main focus of my travel goals. This year I just want to have fun. Case in point, after this little sojourn I’m on to Disney World right now, I think my next adventure will be in Hawaii. I have a some girlfriends who are planning a trip to Maui in June and I am definitely going to join them. (This ties in with another one of my New Year’s resolutions, but I’ll write more about that later.) I can’t wait to do some swimming, snorkeling, and exploring new places/things I didn’t see when I was last there in 2011. I need to buy my plane ticket for that trip pretty soon. There are other trips I need to plan ahead for as well.

Believe it or not, I’m already thinking about 2016. Yes, I’m getting ready to book a Disney Cruise for February 2016. Not only am I dying to go on a Disney Cruise, but my ultimate goal is to run the Princess Half Marathon at Disney World and then leave on the cruise from Port Canaveral the next day. That particular cruise has the Castaway Cay 5K on Disney’s private island which is one of its major selling points. I might be going a little crazy with these Disney races, but at least I’ll have some awesome medals to show for it! I know it’s more than a year away, but I’m already looking forward to this combination Orlando/Bahamas trip. I’ve never been on a cruise before and I’ve never been to the Bahamas before. February 2016 will contain a lot of firsts! I can’t wait!

Sunday Runday – Post-race running

When I found out that I’d be travelling to DC for work right after the Disneyland Half Marathon, I knew I wanted to stay at a hotel with a decent fitness center. Most places only have one treadmill in their sorry excuses for hotel gyms, but one I’ve stayed in before has a refreshingly large room full of cardio equipment instead. So I booked a reservation there for my trip so that I’d be able to keep up with my running even after completing my half marathon goal. The best laid plans, right? Of course I had great intentions, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t able to follow though. I packed my running shoes, workout clothes, and even the Disneyland Half Marathon headband that my parents bought me, but unfortunately I got back home with all of them unworn. I flew to DC early on Tuesday morning (6 AM flight) and arrived in the early afternoon. I went directly to work, without even getting lunch or checking into my hotel because I had a lot of work to do before the next morning. Unfortunately it turned out to be four hours of work. I wanted to run 3 miles on the treadmill that night (since it was way too hot to run outside), but I didn’t get to my hotel until about 10 PM and I was exhausted. Since I had to get up at 5 AM the next morning to go to work, I decided to get right in the shower and go to bed instead of running first. My first post-race run could wait. The next day was extremely stressful and I ended up working 12 hours without any sort of a break. My lunch was a banana and a Fiber One bar. On my way back to my hotel I went to Target, grabbed a ham and turkey wrap and a Greek yogurt, and was barely able to wait until I got back to my room before scarfing them down. I was on the verge of passing out at that point and my alarm was set for 5 AM again, so another night passed without a run. And then another one, since Thursday was almost exactly like Wednesday. At that point I realized that I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in about six weeks. I felt awful. So on Friday morning I slept in until 8 AM. It was glorious. I finished up my business trip by working a few hours, grabbing a bite to eat, and then catching my flight back to LA. While I’m not happy about missing two runs while I was out of town, the work portion of my trip was very successful. One thing at a time, I guess. My Avengers Half Marathon training starts on Tuesday!

Snow in DC

It snowed in DC again today, but luckily I can read about it from the much more pleasant climate of Southern California rather than deal with it in person. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly prepared when the white stuff started falling from the sky the day after I arrived last week. The photo on the left was taken from my hotel window on Sunday night while the snow was falling, and the photo on the right was taken on Monday morning. I had to work late on Sunday night so I was dismayed to find about three inches of snow on my rental car when I left to drive to my hotel for the night. Earlier in the evening I’d gone out to pick up some pizzas for everyone and it was just starting to snow. It wasn’t a big deal at the time and I actually enjoyed it. Since I’ve never lived in a cold climate I think watching snow fall is really beautiful, but I don’t consider the aftermath of hours of snowfall. Since Budget hadn’t left a brush in my car I had to wipe off as much of the snow from the windshield and windows of my car using my hands that night. I had gloves, but my fingers still got really cold. My fingers hurt so much afterwards that I had trouble getting my credit card out of my wallet when I got to the hotel! The next morning was even worse. The hotel parking lot had been plowed, but my car had about eight inches of accumulated snow on it. Fun. There was no way I was going to try and clear that off with just my hands, especially since I hadn’t brought any shoes with me that were even remotely suitable for walking through snow. Instead I had the hotel shuttle drop me off at work, and a co-worker took me back that evening. I borrowed a broom from work to help dig my car out so I could go to the grocery store and get some much-needed food items that night. The roads were in good shape so driving was easy as soon as my car wasn’t a giant snowdrift. By the time I left DC six days later the snow was almost completely gone. Warmer temperatures and some rain took care of that. The locals told me that this winter had been brutal and they were really looking forward to spring. Too bad they got more snow today. Luckily I’m not there this time!