Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Flying Home

We got upgraded to First from Albuquerque to Portland. From Portland to Seattle we’re back in Row 22.

Good for the soul and a short flight...

Monday, January 27, 2020

Durango Mexican: Tequila’s

We set a record. Last night we had an enjoyable dinner at this Durango restaurant. This marks the time Brian savored two consecutive Mexican meals.


It snowed lightly overnight in Durango, and our sister-in-law had already pointed out we had summer tires on our Nissan Rogue Alamo rental.

Apparently that’s more common than we realize. We took it easy and the weather co-operated. The roads were good and the last trace of snow disappeared south of Cuba, New Mexico.

Brian has never enjoyed I-25 through Albuerque, but we arrived safely at the Hampton Inn near the Sunport, as the locals call ABQ, in time to glimpse the darkening sky from our window.

Lunch at Francisca’s in Farmington, New Mexico

The best Northern New Mexican food in town can be found in this little strip mall joint, according to Kathy’s youngest brother. It was delicious.

Chile’s on the open kitchen’s counter...

Chile rellenos, burritos, tacos, and more - all terrific.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Changing Pants On a E175

It can be done if you’ve, say, spilled red wine all over your pants because of a slanted tray table.

Just ask Kathy.

There will be no photos of this occasion.

Well, maybe one...

Seattle to Portland to Albuquerque

We turned it into quite a journey, including an overnight at PDX in a Hilton Garden Inn, but the price was unbeatable.

Last night we made the short hop from SEA to PDX in Row 6 of a former Virgin Atlantic Airbus. Mood lighting and great seats. 

 This morning, as we await our regional jet flight to Albuquerque (Yay! Our upgrades cleared.), we’re struck again by the spaciousness and attractiveness of the  carpeted Portland Airport. It reminds of Vancouver, which is a big compliment.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Off on a short trip...

Curiously, we’re in Row 1 exit row and the wheelchair passenger who just climbed in with the flight attendant’s assistance is also in an exit row.

We speak to the FA. He’s aware and we volunteered to trade our window seat, which is not an exit seat, being behind the bulkhead.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Homewood Suites Miami Airport West

We wouldn’t go out of our way to stay here again, but it was okay.

When Brian called for an airport pickup the hotel employee sounded confused, perhaps due to Brian’s accent. The driver found us right where we said we and seemed annoyed, whether at us or his fellow employee we don’t know. It seemed to take nearly 20 minutes to get to the hotel, but we suspect the driver was taking back streets to avoid the traffic on the major roads.

We arrived a little before 2:30 but rooms weren’t ready. The desk clerk took our number and we wandered off to the Peruvian restaurant for a long lunch.

No phone call ever came, but when we returned just  before 4PM our room was ready.

The two-room suites are pleasant enough, and Kathy enjoyed the bathtub, although she had to hold the leaky drain stopper down with a foot.

Our view past the parking lot is of I-95 and we’re under a MIA landing path, but we’ve heard little more than the occasional rumble of a jet about to land - excellent soundproofing!

We each had a Bud Light at their evening “reception,” and went to bed early. This morning’s breakfast is roughly Hampton Inn quality, and we managed just fine.

We plan to catch a shuttle back to the airport at 11:30AM, so as to allow plenty of time to check in at American Airlines, where we have no status.

We fly Miami to Tampa around 1:30, and fly onward to Seattle on Alaska after a layover. From there it’s the final short flight to Bellingham, landing near Midnight on what appears to be a snowy night.

We’re counting on our Subaru to get us home from there.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Miami by Big Bus

We picked up a special transfer deal from Oceania that worked fine for us.

The Big Bus (a hop-on-and-off competitor) transferred us to their “welcome center,” and stored our suitcase, while we rode both of their routes, Miami Beach and Little Havana. They then transferred us to the airport, where we caught the Homewood Suite’s shuttle to the hotel.  

Our room wasn’t ready, so we braved eight lanes of traffic at the light to dine at El Pollo Inka, a terrific little Peruvian restaurant.

We lunched well and chatted with the owner. He’s Peruvian, and it turns out he’s a friend of the chef at one of the restaurants we enjoyed in Lima. Small world...


Again, way too much to eat...

Back to Reality

We disembarked from Sirena this morning after a chef’s demo, enough Big O points to trade for polo shirts, more good dining, and our new favorite, cappuccino with a double shot of espresso,

We split this porterhouse steak and it was still way too much.

and took advantage of a goo

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Sea Day

It’s been a bumpy ride for much of yesterday and today, so much so that we couldn’t dock at Costa Maya, Mexico.

Luckily, we enjoy sea days.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Artificial Ports

Yesterday a tiny island owned by the cruise line...

Today another little artificial village, allowing us to feel not guilty about relaxing aboard.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Aboard Sirena: Lunch at the Terrace Café

A beautiful sea day on our way to Harvest Caye, the private island in Belize...

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Sirena Docked in Key West

A beautiful day...

The Royal Caribbean ship docked astern towers over our 684-passenger ship.

From our Terrace Café vantage point on Deck 9, we remind ourselves how flat the Florida Keys are.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Sailing Away on Sirena

Tight parking spot and a stiff breeze...

Miami: Aboard Sirena

Home for the next week...

Our stateroom on Deck 4...

Train Pain in Florida

Our Alaska flight from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale in Premium Economy was fine.

Taking the TriRail train from there to Miami Airport proved to be challenging. We found the shuttle bus at the airport with only minor problems and managed to buy our bargain $5 tickets at rather stupid machines.

The train pulled in on the northbound tracks, so we trotted over with the rest of the throng and managed to board.

We then learned there had been an accident and that a bus would pick us up at the next station to shuttle us to a station past the accident.

After crossing over the tracks again on slow elevators, we were among the crowd that squeezed onto the bus that arrived 10 minutes later. Not everyone did.

We arrived, a train came along a few minutes later, and we made it to MIA about an hour later than planned, fortunately not a problem for us, unlike the flight attendants and passengers scrambling off to catch their flights.

We caught the Crowne Plaza shuttle to the hotel, and learned our IHG credit card Platinum status has scored us a modest upgrade to a large room. The whole place is dated but nice, and the employees are friendly.

We slept well, making up a little for the previous night’s short slumber, and we plan to take an Uber to board Sirena shortly after noon, local time.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Changing Mileage Programs

From Gary Leff...

Loyalty Programs Move Slowly, Today’s Devaluations Have Taken 30 Years To Implement

Northwater at BLI Holiday Inn

We overnighted Saturday at the newish Holiday Inn at Bellingham Airport on a park-and-fly rate, what with flying to Seattle at 5 AM this morning.

We dined at the hotel’s Northwater and found tasty fish and chips for Kathy and a nicely cooked pork chop for Brian...

We’re currently in an Alaska Lounge at SEA enjoying nicely made cappuccinos with an extra shot of espresso.

Next stop is Fort Lauderdale as we head toward a bargain seven-day Oceania cruise on their newest ship, Sirena.