Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Neighbor’s Gift


Friday, August 6, 2021

Shuttleless in Seattle at the Airport Hilton

 When we landed in Phoenix, we were fortunate to have 45 minutes to arrive at our new gate. We've rarely flown into Phoenix and were amazed what it took to transfer from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3.

The signage was non-existent when we got off the plane and we had to ask employees to point us in the right direction. We walked a long way, took an airport train, and then had to reclear TSA security at Terminal 3. We arrived at our Alaska gate with a comfortable 10-15 minutes to spare.

Our PHX-SEA flight in Premium Economy was as comfortable as it could be. We landed a bit early around 11:15PM. We had checked one large bag and it arrived at the baggage carousel quite promptly.

We arrived at the hotel shuttle pickup zone by 11:40, and called the Airport Hilton to listen to the recording confirming the shuttle left the hotel on the hour and half hour. With no shuttle in sight as of 12:12AM, we called again to talk to the hotel operator but nobody answered the phone.

At 12:20AM we bailed and made the 10-minute walk to the hotel, something we should have done originally. 

As we trudged through the pedestrian tunnel crossing International Boulevard, we caught a glimpse of the shuttle entering the Hilton's parking lot after picking up at the airport at some point after 12:20AM.

We had to wait in line nearly 15 minutes to check in and gave the hapless desk clerk an earful. His excuse was that the shuttle driver was late while "helping a family." That didn't help us and it would have been helpful to answer the phone.

In any event, we finally got to bed at 1:00AM (2:00AM Mountain Time). 

It was pleasing to arrive back home the next day and have some time to relax after a surprisingly tiring journey.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

At the Durango Airport

Tom and Ellyn dropped us off at the airport after a relaxed drive to Farmington and lunch of a tasty Pho with Greg.

Our travel plans got upended for awhile with the message that our flight to Phoenix was a half hour late, making an already close connection to the PHX-SEA flight impossible.

Kathy spotted an Alaska flight departing Phoenix for Seattle about an hour later and called Alaska, whose air miles we are using for the trip. The agent said we would have to call American. Four-hour wait - Ugh!

Kathy called back Alaska while Brian sat on hold for American, and this time found an agent who sympathized with our long wait time worked with her supervisor to get us on the later flight. It’s a time like this that makes us really appreciate Alaska.

 The Alaska miles for the original flight are already back in our account, the American counter agent at Durango cheerfully checked a bag containing way more porcini mushrooms than we picked through to Seattle, and we hope to land there around Midnight, only one hour after our original flight.

Kathy’s purse gets extra attention at the checkpoint but finally clears

On the plus side, we’re upgraded to First on this short hop.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Bar D Chuckwagon Supper

Just down the road from Tom and Ellyn is the Bar D, feeding and entertaining since 1969.

We see more than one cowboy, including this hombre.

He proves to be friendly.

By golly, it’s Kathy’s youngest brother Greg, who drove up with June to visit attend the show with us.

Good food and plenty of it. 

Great entertainment.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Colorado High Country Views

In and around Durango Mountain Resort...

Engineer Mountain


Mushroom Foraging in the Colorado Mountains

We ride up to Durango Mountain Resort with Tom and Ellyn, and climb up under the chair lifts until we reach US Forest Service land. We keep going until we reach about 10,500 feet and start foraging.

There some beautiful fungi up here that we definitely do not want.

We even spy a “fairy ring” or two of coral mushrooms.

We are, however, in the hunt for porcini mushrooms, (piglets in Italian).

By the end of the morning, we’ve collected an impressive pile of porcinis.

As we drive down, we encounter the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra’s young principal trombonist finishing up a brief music video shot by his wife to celebrate his attendance at Durango’s Music in the Mountains.

He kindly obliges us with a minute of Tommy Dorsey and we applaud him vigorously for this moment of serendipity before driving back to process our bounty.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


Tom’s and Ellyn’s front yard...

Adventures in Travel at DFW

Our flight lands early but waits at the gate for several minutes for employees so we arrive late.

We walk along the concourse toward the signs that say Ground Transportation and eventually realize that all of the security exits are closed off (due to the late hour?). We trudge back to where we deplaned and pull our rollaboards through the door marked Baggage Claim.

We call the Tru by Hilton hotel, only to learn this “airport hotel” does not offer a shuttle.

The man running the taxi queue appears to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown, with few taxis in sight. We finally secure a rickety taxi with fellow passengers who speak no English and offer vouchers (US government?) to the driver. They’re on their way to a downtown Marriott and a Hyatt. Kathy reads it to the one woman who speaks some English and has clearly never heard of Marriott. Welcome to the USA.

The ban’s headlights are not much brighter than parking lights but the roads are deserted. 15 slightly scary minutes and $30 later we arrive at the hotel. 

A sign at the front desk indicates their shuttle operates Monday to Friday - gotcha! That $100 room rate is no longer quite as much of a bargain. A Trip Advisor review is in the offing.

After three hours or so of fitful sleep in an overly warm room, we catch the Uber Brian finally reserved out of an abundance of caution in the middle of the night  ($49), and ride in a nice SUV with a friendly young naval veteran driver who cheers us up. He was once stationed in Everett just south of us so we talk about the Northwest. What the hotel advertises as an 8-minute ride to the airport proves to be 14 on a quiet Sunday morning.

At the airport the regular security lines are advertising a 40-minute wait, but we are through the TSA PreCheck line in 3 minutes with nobody around us.

We’re flying in F on a regional jet, and we’re hoping for a smooth 2-hour flight to Durango. It does bring back memories of longer trips, since we feel like we do when landing in Europe after an overnight flight.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

At the Gate

Kathy manages to change a seat so we’re now directly adjacent in Rows 3 and 4 aisle seats.

We’ve rarely flown AA and never in Domestic F.

Comfortable seats - so far so good...

Here We Go Again

More than two months since our last trip (nearer to three) and we’re on our way to Durango to hunt mushrooms with Tom and Ellyn.

This was a last-minute award booking on American, using our Alaska points (air miles).

We’re flying out of SEA later this evening and overnighting at DFW before flying onward to DRO in the morning. We are checking some  Washington State wine, with a few California bottles added in, and carrying a sausage stuffer that we bought from our next-door neighbors in advance of the Village garage sale. Thanks Victor and Laurie!

As soon as Kathy discovered a sausage stuffer just like ours was available, she thought of Tom. He will be impressed by his sister’s thoughtfulness - some sisters would have brought cookies or a pie.

The TSA spent a lot of time peering at the X-Ray but surprisingly never made us open it. We’re fortunate that nobody has ever tried to commandeer a plane using a sausage stuffer.

We’re relaxing in a Priority Pass lounge way down at A Gates. It’s surprisingly pleasant and letting us ready ourselves for the four-hour flight  to Dallas and the Midnight Central Time arrival.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Lunch Stop at Islamorada - Lazy Days

We experience quite a traffic slowdown as we head back toward Fort Lauderdale, at times stopped for several minutes at a time, and decide to stop for lunch at Lazy Days after reading the positive reviews.

The view is terrific and the upstairs deck is shady and breezy.

Of particular interest is what appears to be a large and genuine anchor that lies on the beach below.

We both had hamburgers - tasty! The service is slow but the young server apologizes and tells us they are suddenly slammed with customers.

The drive from there up to our Hilton Garden Inn near FLL was no fun, but we’re parked and checked in, with our fingers crossed for late checkout privileges tomorrow as we look forward to our 6:10 PM FLL-SEA non-stop flight.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Last Night in the Keys

If we didn’t have to cross the Overseas Highway, we could have walked from the Hampton Inn to the Island Fish Company.

We waited only 20 minutes for an outdoor table, all the better to watch the sunset.

The setting is spectacular and the service is speedy but decent.

We start with an excellent stone crab claws appetizer.

Kathy’s pasta and Brian’s French Dip sandwich are fine.

The sunset lives up to its billing.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Checking Out Marathon

We get a relatively early start to beat the heat and find a couple of nice little parks on a causeway not far from our Hampton Inn.

We share nachos at Havana Jack’s, which features a large shaded deck with a beautiful breeze.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Frank’s Grill in Marathon

Recommended by our neighbors (Thanks Bob and Carmen), Frank’s proves to be a good choice.

We share an excellent mussels appetizer.

Kathy’s lasagne has lots of Italian sausage.

Brian’s ziti with broccoli has a lot of garlic zing.

Another enjoyable meal in Marathon.