Category Archives: Trips

Not your typical Texas Roadhouse

Kristin and I were looking for a place to eat and this place caught our eye.  I mean, it’s awesome in the U.S. right?  Maybe a Manila franchise?

Not quite authentic.

Not quite authentic.

So, not really.  At least they had $1 beer!

There we are, eating outside in November!

There we are, eating outside in November!

I was hoping for real deal Chicken Strips...

I was hoping for real deal Chicken Strips...

Ultimately it was tasty, but we should have known it wasn’t going to be as good.  There was no line and no tasty buns.  They did have some pretty tiny peanuts that were free, though…


Huge malls in Manila

It is intersting that here in Manila, one of the recreational acitivities is “malling.”   The malls are epic in size (think Mall of America, but almost twice the size) and connected to other malls and shopping areas.  I was looking for a movie theater in one of these labyrinthine structures and ended up in the wrong mall by going up the wrong escalator.  Like the MOA, many of the stores are in the mall multiple times.  They don’t seem to have the multiplexes like the U.S. has, but if you are willing to walk to a different mall, the big movies are still playing every twenty  minutes or so.

These malls are seething with people and every mall boundary is defined by a security checkpoint?  Its a little unsettling, but being a big white guy the don’t even check me.


Made it!

At about 1:30 am Manila time I finally made it into the hotel, which means that I traveled for nearly exactly 24 hours to make it here.  Exhausting!  It was interesting at the main Manila airport (Where the service goes the extra SMILE!) where it was line after line that seemed fairly pointless.  Medical, then immigration, then finally customs.  Before customs I waited a good ten minutes to turn $40 int a solid 1860 Pesos, of which my taxi ride from the airport (another 1o minute line) cost 240.  Arriving at the airport, they insisted on calling Kristin’s room to make sure she was really expecting me, gave me a key and I had finally arrived.  Whew!  Too bad the key they gave me broke Kristin’s keys, but I suppose it couldn’t be perfect.  It is awesome to be with Kristin again!  🙂

On the plane I was super annoyed with an older lady who took my Window seat.  She practically refused to move, finally saying “well, I don’t want to be sandwiched between two men!”   I just kept reiterating that she was in my seat.  As a stewardess came over to see what was up just as I said, “fine.”  She asked me if I was sure that was OK, I just nodded and sat down, not wanting to push it anymore.  The lady got the patented MN passive aggressive treatment from then on as I pretended she wasn’t there.  But when I looked at her, sleeping with her head against the bulkhead, which was the only reason I had wanted a window seat, I knew she had come out ahead.  Sigh.  I didn’t even get out the noise canceling earphones, which actually served as awesome earplugs on the first leg.  I read a little, watched the movie without sound (its amazing how much more of the set details and acting you can absorb that way) and mentally willed the time to go faster.  It felt as long as the first flight.

I think it is time to go wander around having successfully retrieved three roles of toilet paper which they are unexpectedly stingy with in a $110 a night hotel.  Called the front desk and talked to two different maids in the hallway and put that in the stash.  I have the “please clean our room” tag out, so hopefully we’ll get at least one more as I have stashed the rest away 🙂


Trip to Manila, flight leg #1

It’s hard to believe that I left at ~10 am and showed up here about 15 hours later with about 12 hours of flight time.  I must have fallen asleep everytime they got ready to trundle out the drink cart, because I got one diet coke on the entire flight.  I managed to get all three meals, though but I would have been way better off missing one of them and getting a couple more diet sodas.  Thanks to Dan for showing me the empty waterbottle trick  (bring empty waterbottles and fill them at the drinking fountains post security checkpoint) when we went to Dugway, it would have been much more irritating had I not had my own bottled water to fall back on.

I had the great fortune of having a window seat and an adjacent empty seat.  Since the 747 configuration featured 3 seats in the outside rows, that meant the lady on the aisle and myself shared the middle seat as a place to store our stuff.  I was quick to steal the extra mini-pillow, too, and I think I probably slept about four hours during the flight.  Strangely, the first movie shown was “The Time Travelers Wife.”  This was strange because I was listening to the audio book at the same time.  From what I saw of the movie, you should read the book.  Next up was “Land of Lost” with Will Ferrell – an airplane is a perfect venue for that movie, for sure.  Not good, but mildly amusing and you don’t feel bad if you miss some of it.  I managed to listen to about three more hours of that audio book and read sixty pages of the new Stephen King novel Under the Dome which is starting out well.

Dad, I made sure to choose the beef for the inflight meal.  It at least resembled beef 😉


Tracking down my frequent flier miles…

Because of the work I do, I typically get to fly around the county four or five times a year.  For a while, I was accumulating FF miles regularly and easily as the local travel folks were putting my frequent flier number in when they scheduled my flights so the miles just kept racking up.  Then we changed how we did travel and since I wasn’t paying good enough attention, I didn’t notice that my NWA FF number was no longer being used.

Realizing this now, I tried to determine how I could get retroactive credit for my miles.  This is a piece of cake, actually, except for one aspect.  You must have your e-ticket number, which is evidently only on the ticket or the baggage receipt.  I was able to find several of these and the miles showed up a couple days after being entered into the “mileage credit request” form on the website.

Now, you would think that I would be able to view my entire flight history on NWA and grab e-ticket numbers from flights that I have been on through their website.  It is hard for me to imagine that NWA wouldn’t be data mining the crappola out of this type of info and have it for some long periods of time, even a year.  The unfortunate truth appears to be that you can’t.  So I have two trips I went on this year that I can’t claim credit for because I don’t have the e-ticket number.  I realize this is partly my fault, but it would be nice if NWA could show past flights as well as ones that you have reservations for.

Moral of the story – enter your FF number into the NWA website before you even go to the airport or email yourself the e-ticket number in case you lose your stub.


Ames Iowa, a fun place!

Kristin and I went down to Ames this weekend along with the Mooney’s. After leaving late on Friday night, Derek and Meghan did a great job of driving us down there and we got to spend a little time with Liz and her house mate before enjoying the air mattress in the living room.

Saturday Kristin and I enjoyed awesome Pizza Ranch Buffet after dropping off Liz for her rehearsal and pictures. While Liz was there, I downloaded and installed on PlayOn so that we could see how much functionality could be squeezed out of Liz’s new xbox 360.  It seemed to work pretty well, but kept dropping out when we tried to watch Dr. Horribles Sing Along blog.  It ended up working on Sunday, but caused no end of frustration during the twenty minutes I tried to get it working.  I’ll blog more about that some other time.

I picked up Liz and dropped her off again when my dad showed up with the tickets with Mike Cooley.   Jason and Derek showed up shortly later and we all headed off to tail gate just north east of the stadium.    While we were tailgating, a helicopter circled and dropped a paratrooper who we believe delivered the game ball.  It was only about 4:30, so it was hard to tell what point was because the game wasn’t until six.

About 5:15 we headed into the stadium and were treated to a great performance as expected from the band and a surprising victory from the football team.

The Iowa State Varsity Marching Band

Click on the pic for the real deal...

The Iowa State Varsity Marching Band #2

Click on the link for the real deal...

Sitting at the game, I got really thirsty.  Despite a raised eyebrow from Kristin, I decided to buy a cup of pop.  Kristin decided to get a picture of the cup to commemorate the occasion.

It was tasty. Yep.

It was tasty. Yep.

We finished up the game, said goodbye to my dad,  hung out with Liz & Brad at Old Chicago, and that was our Saturday.  Liz seems to be doing really well down there which is really awesome.  “The Rental” in Ames is so much nicer than than “The Rental” was in Waverly that there really is no comparison. It’s really exciting that Brad is cruising towards both graduation and getting married next year, too.

Sunday featured some tasty Chinese food, hanging out with Liz and an uneventful ride home with the Mooneys.  Conversation is always good in the vibe… 🙂