…flying high into the sky….

8 Jan

After 11 hours of flight time the big island finally pokes up in the distance, rising out of the pacific.

Hawaii. (big island) appears in the distance


Had I told the pilot “once around the park, Jamie” we couldn’t have asked for a nicer approach to O’ahu.
  Past the big island, the over the coast of Maui and Moloka’i

Volcanic peaks of Maui poking out from their shrouds of clouds!


Can you tell these islands are made out of Lava?

Maui Coast and Molokai


The reason I seated us all on the port side of the plane was to get the view of Pearl Harbor and Hickman Air Force base. On the final approach to HNL.   Pearl Harbor is tomorrow’s destination and the view didn’t  disappoint.

Pearl Harbor


The red and white ATC tower in the center is an icon of Pearl Harbor since the attack.  On the mid-upper right you will see the Arizona memorial standing over (but not touching) the remains of the destroyed battleship and her entombed sailors.  This commemorates the beginning of the US entry into WW2.

Just to the left of that is the Battleship Missouri, facing toward the Arizona as a sign of respect.  Battleships are normally moored with the bow facing out, towards the ocean, ready at a moments notice to sail out.  The Missouri, was where the surrender instrument was signed in Tokyo harbor, and represents the end of WW2.

Typically a document like that would have been signed on the US flagship, which at the time was the US New Jersey, but Harry Truman was from Missouri, so the “Mighty Mo'” received the Japanese Delegation and the honors.

(Note – to non tech – savvy readers – you can expand the pictures!)

Hickman AFB


Hickman Air Force base adjoins Honolulu International Airport.  250 feet left to descend.

Landing at HNL


We land on runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, was the world’s first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway was a designated alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

Finally, we deplane, rent a Tahoe and we’ll be spending the night in Waikiki beach on the beachfront tonite, then it’s off to Pearl Harbor and the banzai pipeline tomorrow.
See ya’ then!

Off we go!  Into the wild blue yonder……

8 Jan

We’re currently flying west over the Grand Canyon, but the cloud cover has it obscured, or I’d try to figure out how to put the picture here.  I’ve decided, I’m just going to try to get the words and sentiments out.  I’m not going to compete with my usual merciless traveling companion and his writers prose.  I’llstick to what I’m food at.  As Chico once captioned a photo of my fording a stream in a jeep- “Dan is comfortable behind the wheel”.  Just gonna be me, warts and all, and see how it comes out.  I’m also not going to blog by the day.  Maybe I’ll do short ones many times a day.  Maybe I’ll just blog a picture when I’m too busy having a good time.

I got up at very dark 15 and got out the door. (Winston Kitty was very unhappy I was leaving with my bag again) and drove the rental thing to Newark airport.  My siblings head to Newark airport from 40 miles in the other direction.  We figured we’d meet at the gate.  And use cell phones if we have to to find each other.  Turns out you can rent a Chevy spark from dollar around the corner for 15 dollars at the last minute and drop it off at Newark airport.  It took $1.90 in gasoline to top off the tank.  Cheaper than mass transit.  Dropped off the car, got on the AirTrain.

And now an advertisement for TSA Precheck!  Precheck is great.  You can usually get through security in a fraction of the time, without being irradiated and with most of your dignity intact.  Leave on your belt, leave on your shoes, leave your computer in your bag and just stroll through the simple metal detector and you’re done.  I’ll talk about GOES maybe on my next international flight.

 Those of us that are unfortunate enough to have to use Newark airport know there is only 1 TSA pre check checkpoint for the entire United terminal – at entry point ‘C’.  But I consulted united’s terminal map which proudly proclaims that there is a TSA preconceived at all entry points.  So I wrote a detailed note to my siblings that I didn’t believe them and if it weren’t so how to get to to checkpoint “C”.
The AirTrain stops at checkpoint 2, so I took the time to find out what I already knew.  There is only ONE TSA pre check at the United terminal, and it’s at “c”.  The published United documentation is a bald faced lie.  So I take the escalator and walk over to ‘c’ and get on line.   Who is directly in front of me?  My siblings.  THANK YOU MOM! (See I told you they’d be with us)  We coud not have done that if we planned. It.

  So an easy boarding for an on-time departure on UA15, EWR->HNL.  I give my family the briefing on how to use the power, bed and other amenities.  We take up the forward section of the  port side of the cabin.

The singles (me and Izzy in the front), the marrieds (Ray and Laura in row 2) and the soon to be marrieds (Amity and Paul) in row three.

The plane is a 767-400ER.  A ubiquitous mini-jumbo jet of united’s fleet.  Nice comfortable accomodations for our 11.5 hour flight.

Then it’s up up and away!,  er….  Off we go into the wild blue yonder flying high into the sky……

  • We are currently approaching the San Bernadino mountains at the southern part of the  Sierra Nevada mountain range. To fly south of LAX then over the pacific.

san bernadino mountains

Bucking a 140mph headwind… Finally over the pacific.

Our first stop will be O’Ahu, a drive along a dramatic coastline, then dinner at Uncle Bo’s and accomodations in Waikiki Beach.  We will only be on O’Ahu a short time to see Pearl Harbor, the banzai pipeline, some sights along the coast then off to less populated islands of Kaua’i and Hawaii.

  Talk to you again from O’Ahu.

Twas the night before…….

8 Jan

Enter a caption

‘Twas the night before…….

I feel compelled to start blogging (again). Actually I never felt like I did blog, as on many of my travels, I travelled with butterblogger.com and he did all the blogging.

I was lazy.

well, tomorrow begins the trip of a lifetime. A year in the planning. Even though I’ve been there Many times before, this time it’s all about my traveling companions. My family is going with me so I can share with them many of my favorite places on earth, Hawaii.

My sister, My brother (in-law – hithertofore referred to as my brother – which is the defacto relationship), my two nieces and my soon to be nephew in law.

Amity is getting married to Paul in September. I offered to send them round trip anywhere United flies, or take the whole family to Hawaii, which I’ve been to many times and know pretty well. It didn’t take them but seconds to decide and We’re going on a trip of my lifetime. Oahu, Kaua’i and Hawaii (Big Island), 10 days on my favorite islands. Volcanos, monster waves, deserts, rainbows and rain forests.

and someone else is sure to join us, my long dead parents, who never made it to Hawaii. They knew how to travel and taught it to us. They will undoubtedly join us on this celebration of my first niece getting married. I’ve noticed lately that certain mannerisms, values and thought processes run through the generations, and i’m anxious to partake in them. I know countless times in the next 10 days we will be reminded of them and their presence will be known, through word, action and thought.

I made these plane reservations all the way back in april. 6 for us, but for me and Izzy, we ended up with seats not next to each other. The plane has been fully booked for months. Today, after check-in time, the seat next to me, 1b, opened up. out of hundreds of seats on the plane – all full, the one next to me opens up. I call up izzy and tell her to grab that seat. She gets it. As in many times in the past when synchronicity strikes I say:

“THANK YOU MOM”. Izzy tells me she it’s like when she finds a great parking space near her apartment uptown she says “I’ve never met you but thanks”. I didn’t know she does that before tonite. There will be many family revelations over the next 10 days and I welcome them.

I did a driving trip with my two nieces a decade ago touring eastern Europe, Germany, Austria, Czech republic, Poland and we had a spectacular time. This time my nieces parents, my sister and brother will join the celebration of the marriage and it will be my entire family.

so it’s time to pack and early in the morning we’ll start more than just “another”, but maybe the best ‘excellent adventure of my life’.

I’m just starting this blog up, It won’t be perfect. Please let me know if you can read it and if things look ok, and what can be better.

HKG / SIN 4/9/2014 – 1m miles part 1

14 Apr

1m mile trip part 1 intro

A personal letter from United* (yeah sure)

Dear Daniel,

We are excited that you are approaching a remarkable milestone: flying one million miles with United® and MileagePlus®. Once you are a 1 Million Miler, you will enjoy benefits that reflect your accomplishment, including status that will not fall below Premier® Gold.*

We look forward to welcoming you as a 1 Million Miler in the near future.
Dan S

Get ready to be a 1 Million Miler

*with an asterisk.

The Quest:

Is it possible to go to the other side of the world to have dumplings in 2 famous cities and back, staying in decent hotels for less than $175 and an unknown number of frequent flyer miles? Welcome to dan’s Hong Kong/singapore adventure. we’re going to find out.

The History.
a long time ago (I believe 1995) i had a business opportunity on the left coast. Up until that point i flew tower air. It was the worst! they only flew 747’s (which was nice) but they were serial numbers 1-5. the ones that only had 3 windows on the upper deck – i don’t even think they had a dash after the number, in a word: ancient. they had terrible processes and rude crews (they were israeli, so it was ok). The cheapest ticket in the sky but you just had to accept that fact that if the plane left on the same day the ticket was for, it was on time (that is NOT an exaggeration). Tower flew from JFK to OAKland.

tower air had another attribute that worked. the place ‘s’ and i worked at was at the end of the runway at oakland airport. we worked push/pull. he would spend two weeks on the left coast managing this huge project, then i would fly out, take over and he would go back. we called the time there, “in the barrel”, it was said that we would dosi-doe at the airport. From the lab, you only had to look out the window and if the tower air tail was at the airport, you had a few hours to get over there, meet sam, discuss the issues for the next two weeks, hop on or off the plane and go. Well tower air went out of business and it was time to pick a REAL airline to fly. i was a delta flyer, but they were kinda pricey, so i tried united.

My first united flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem. but something interesting happened – they made a prompt and honest announcement and gave their assessment. What is this? an airline NOT treating me like a fragile parcel being unloaded from the top shelf of a UPS truck? I was so impressed with how united handled what went wrong, and their price on the JFK/SFO run that i joined their FF program. i’m sure i missed joining the first couple of flights, but that announcement about ‘frequent flyers earn 2586 miles for this trip) caught my attention. When i found out that you could trade those miles for upgrades and sit in the big seats in the front of the plane (how DID those people do it?) i was hooked.

and what wouldn’t i do to get those ‘free’ upgrades to the big seats in the front? credit cards that got miles, YES! 19 years later, i realize that airports are the bus stations of the middle class. i have too many frequent flyer miles in the bank and the airlines are devaluing the currency. why should this be any different than the US peso, or any other currency? Since i can’t diversify my ffm assets, i decided to fly a lot. I’ve flown on A380’s, I’ve flown on 787 Dreamliners (while they were catching on fire)-even got a cockpit tour by two senior pilots! and every other plane you can imagine. and in every class. I have my memorable flights.

I flew a 787 dreamliner from newark to houston to San Fran to houston to newark on New Year’s Day last year – just to be a part of history. Since i foolishly missed my chance to fly on the concorde, i figured i’d lock this one in. It was noteworthy because when we landed in San Fran, 7 policemen rushed in, stopped short and looked around and said “damn this is a nice plane” (it is), and then went back to coach and arrested a woman and took her off the plane in handcuffs. When I reboarded i asked the flight attendant what the story was. Apparently she bought her ticket on a stolen credit card – and it wasn’t the first time. How foolish — to buy a ticket on a stolen credit card and not buy first class! but i digress – back to the adventure at hand.

This trip is noteworthy not only because i am using some of my miles to travel first class 1/2 way around the world and back (it feels like for free) and pay for decent hotel rooms, but because on this trip, i will hit 1 million lifetime miles. A dubious achievement, to be sure, but one that has great perks, priority boarding, not getting nickled and dimed for baggage and other stuff for the rest of my life (or until they change it). with some airlines charging even for advanced seat reservations, it’s a good thing.


9 Mar

Sometimes the experiences are so intense, so dense, you don’t realize what an incredible time you’ve had until later, when you look at the pictures……


my shadow over a 2600 year old mosaic floor in a ruin in paestum, italy.

Hawaii is for Foodies

9 Mar

but they don’t know it. This morning we are going to the farmers market.

Escape from the tundra in the frozen north

6 Mar

2014-03-05 Trip Report Hawaii

March 5, 2014 has finally arrived.

for the last 4 months i have lived in the frozen tundra of a small island off the east coast of the United States. It’s a tiny island sandwiched between the largest island in the United States and the mainland.

My island is so small that when standing on high ground in the middle, you can see both the large island to the east, and the mainland to the west. While this island is technically part of the United States, we are repeatedly reminded that, Culturally, we are more like europe than the US.

i don’t go on vacations, i go on adventures. the time is densely packed and i go either alone or with dear friends. we have our own individual goals and develop common goals along the way. our adventures are marked by living like the locals and leaving no stone unturned.

sometimes we refer to these goals as ‘bucket list’ items. This adventure will be with “M”, he writes a blog called ‘butterblogger.com’. “M” is an aspiring writer and foodie. One of my advisors tell me he is just finding his voice in that profession. read his blog yourself and see if you like it, i’ll bet you will. When I travel with “M” our common values and goals that we amplify in each other is:

FOOD (you can say we’re both foodies). Local food, produce, ranching, cuisine are fascinating.

CULTURE (doesn’t matter if we speak the language or not, we want to live like the locals live – and we make friends and relationships along the way).

HISTORY AND TRADITION – with that understanding most of there would be only commercial crap – not adventure.

what you will NOT find is us going to places to stay IN a hotel, go on pre-made tours, Or sit by the pool and drink all day. No going to exotic places to ride a zip line or roller coaster (unless of course, it’s cedar point and we’re going there to ride the coasters). btw, we are both coaster enthusiasts.

anyways, back to the frozen tundra on my island. From my house i can see the airplanes approach pattern to three different airports – two on the big island, and one on the mainland. I can see the airport on the mainland which is where i will be flying out of this morning. How long will it take me to get there?

I rented a car the night before to begin my trek to get to the airport. I could have taken my own car, but the winter has left the roads in hellish shape, and my car has stupid wheels and tires that could break if i fall into one of the bombed out section of road. Plus the parking at the airport for a 6 day trip would cost over $200. I could take a cab for a cool $100, but the rental car is only $48 (plus $3 for gas). I could even take a combination of trains. Unfortunately , the trains are antiques that have dealt as poorly with the frozen tundra as governor christie has with keeping traffic flowing over the George Washington Bridge. I fear if i take the train, it will be predictably delayed for an unpredictable length of time and i’ll miss my flight. The provincial airport has only one non-stop flight per day and i don’t want to take the chance of missing it, so i rent the car. Some people say americans cars handle the best, some people say foreign cars handle the best. i say nothing handles like a rented car. potholes are just not an issue, nor is parking at the other end.

I have a direct non-stop flight from EWR to HNL,

I leave my apartment in the west village at 7:08 to make a 9:20 flight. I leave manhattan island through the holland tunnel, hit a little traffic (and a few potholes that would have incapacitated my car) and did not get lost to newark “liberty” airport like i did two weeks ago on my trip to maui. Abandoning New Jersey Transit was smart.

i drop the car and get on the airtrain. each airtrain terminal is new and sparkling, the airtrains are nice too, except i can walk faster than they locomote. but i get to terminal C, find the pre-check line and am through TSA security in under 2 minutes.

unlike last trip, most of the moving sidewalks and escalators are working, and the ceiling isn’t leaking into buckets everywhere you look (probably because there’s no water outside, just ice.) I find a place to buy a couple of sandwhichs for the 12 hour flight (yes they serve food, but it is usually rancid, disgusting and inedible, so i bring along a sandwich.

this is the first of the travel reports




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11 Jan

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