Three trips in just over a month.
Pity me. I’ll be on 9 different airliners over the next 40 days.
First Stop: Florida
There’s a joke that New Yorkers “get” and I’ll be so bold as to try it here:
Q: What’s a good Jewish wine?
A: [whining] I want to go to Florida.
While midwesterners and northwesterners retire to Arizona, New Yorkers (and others from the northeast) retire to Florida. Not only do they retire there, but they vacation there. And since New York has a huge Jewish population that vacations and retires in Florida — mostly in the Fort Lauderdale area — this joke is funny. Well, at least it’s funny to New Yorkers. (And having heard it from a Jewish person, I don’t think it’s offensive to Jews. You may correct me if I’m wrong.)
Both of my parents retired to Florida. While many people think that might make sense — that they retired together — it’s not as easy as that. They’re both remarried and they each moved to different parts of Florida with their spouses.
My mother, who I’m going to see next week, moved to the St. Augustine area. Technically, she lives in Crescent Beach, which is on the far southern reaches of St. Augustine. She lives with my stepdad on the barrier island there. Her home, which she had custom-built about 10 years ago, sits on a tiny canal.
She and my stepdad used to have a boat, but fuel and maintenance costs made that impractical, considering the amount of time they actually used it. So now they have a bulkhead with a bench overlooking the canal. Their neighbors have boats that they seldom use, too, and they can look out on those.
The area is nicely treed and quiet. There are lots of sea birds.
My mom’s house was built in a U-shape. On one end of the U is the master bedroom and bath. On the other end is another bedroom with its own bathroom just up the hall. That was supposed to be my grandmother’s bedroom, but like so many people back east, she couldn’t leave the area she’d lived in for her whole life. (In fact, she died within 50 miles of where she was born, having lived in only three or maybe four places her entire life.) Grandma’s room is the best room in the house, with privacy, easy access to the pool and hot tub between the arms of the U, a nice bathroom, and its own thermostat. Although the house has four bedrooms, I try to manage my trips so I get Grandma’s room. I stayed in the “kid’s room” once with Mike and was incredibly uncomfortable sharing the tiny space beside the trundle bed with a treadmill’s bulk.
My mother and stepdad are going to Italy at the end of the month for two weeks. This is a huge deal. They don’t travel much and I can’t remember the last time they left the country. They’re going with a tour group (of course) and I don’t know the itinerary, but I’m sure I’ll be filled in when I get there on Tuesday evening.
I haven’t been to my mother’s house since Thanksgiving 2006. She hasn’t been out here since Thanksgiving (or perhaps Christmas?) 2004 (?). She really doesn’t like to travel by plane. One year, they decided to drive out. Yes: St. Augustine, FL to Wickenburg, AZ, a distance of more than 2,100 miles. You might be asking yourself: what were they thinking? The answer: they weren’t. It was a long drive and they were on freeways the entire way. It might not have been so bad if they didn’t hit a dust storm in the Tucson area, but they were tired when they encountered that and it really rattled them.
It takes two planes to fly to visit them — no one has a direct flight from Phoenix to Jacksonville or Daytona (she lives right between them). I could get a direct flight to Orlando, but then I’d spend more than an hour driving from there. I’d rather spend that hour on the ground, in Houston, looking for a nice lunch and shopping in the airport terminal.
I’ll be in Florida for five days: Tuesday through Saturday. Two jets each way equals four different jets.
California, Here I Come!
My next trip is for business. I’m flying into Burbank, CA to meet with a new client for a brand new job. I can’t go into details because I’m under nondisclosure (NDA), but I can say that I’m working on a new project that should be completed by the end of May. I’ll talk about it more then.
I’m flying Southwest into Burbank. I don’t like flying Southwest. The lack of seat assignments is a royal pain in the butt. I like to know before I get on a plane where I’ll sit on that plane. And since I’m likely to have carry-on luggage, I like to know for sure that I’ll be able to stow it. Southwest makes knowing these things impossible, so I tend to avoid it.
But my client paid for this trip’s airfare and booked it for me, so I can’t complain. It’s a more convenient flight than I’d get with another airline — Burbank is closer to my final destination than LAX, and a heck of a lot less crazed. I’ll probably save a whole hour of travel time by avoiding traffic. And maybe, just maybe, Southwest isn’t as bad as I remember it.
Because this trip is for business, I don’t expect to have much fun. I have to finish the entire project in 4-1/2 days. (I arrive on Sunday and depart on Friday at about noon.) The quicker I work, the more time I’ll have to goof off, so that’s a good motivator. And not finishing up on time is not an option.
It’s just one jet each way, but if you’re counting, that brings the total up to six jets between now and May 9.
The Washington Trip
In mid-May comes the trip I’ve been looking forward to: a helicopter flight from Wickenburg to Boeing Field in Seattle, Wa. There’s nothing I love more than long cross-country trips by helicopter. If I could figure out a way to earn a living doing it, I’d be doing it all the time.
The trip is to reposition the aircraft for my summer job. Yes, this year, after two years of false hopes, I’ve been signed up to do cherry drying for growers in central Washington state. But to do the work, I need to get the aircraft up there. That means a 10-12 hour ferry flight which I hope we can complete within two days. Once at BFI, I’ll leave the helicopter with a buddy’s mechanic for an annual inspection, which will be due by then.
Since I’ll be in central Washington for at least a month, I’ll need a place to stay. So right after I drop off the helicopter, I’ll hop on a plane for Wenatchee, WA, rent a car, and start scouting around. I plan to drive up with my new old truck pulling my travel trailer. Alex the Bird and I will camp out for the entire time. I’m interested in finding an affordable campground with full hookup and WiFi, but there’s a chance I might get a free (or almost free) partial hookup with (fingers crossed) WiFi at the same private airport where the helicopter will be based for the first part of the season. Since I have time, I figured I’d go check out my options. It’s a long drive from Wickenburg, AZ to Quincy, WA, and I want to make sure I know where I’m going to be parking my rig before I get there.
The plane from Seattle to Wenatchee may not be a jet, but it will be part of an airline. I fly from Seattle to Wenatchee and then back to Seattle before flying home to Phoenix. If you’re keeping count, that’s three more plane rides for a total of nine.
Between all of that, I have other work to do.
I have two helicopter charters for Flying M Air — one of which is later today. After that, Flying M Air’s Phoenix-area operations are closed for the season. I have 21 hours left on the Hobbs meter before I need a 100-hour inspection (which is about the same as an annual, but must be done every 100 hours). If I fly 2-1/2 hours today and 3-1/2 hours on Monday, that leaves 15 hours for the ferry flight and helicopter training I need to do (in Portland, OR, which I hope to hit on the way to Seattle). While I’m allowed to go over the 100 hours if the flight is repositioning the aircraft to where the maintenance will be done, I’m not allowed to go over it for training flights. So I simply can’t take on any new charter flights until I get to Washington.
(And yes, I can continue to operate my tour and charter business in Washington State. My Part 135 certificate is “portable.” So when I’m not drying cherries, I hope to make a few extra bucks by transporting growers and other folks who need to get from place to place near my summer base(s).)
I also need to record a training video for macPro Video. I would have started this last week, or this week, but I’ve been having trouble getting satisfactory recording equipment together. (See my video blog entry about this.) I might try to do some of it in Florida. We’ll see. Otherwise, I’ll have to do it between the Florida and California trips.
I also need to go to Howard Mesa to pick up a few things I’ll need on my summer-long trip. Among them is Alex the Bird’s mid-size cage, which should fit nicely on a shelf in the camper, my low-wattage one-cup coffee maker, and some odds and ends that’ll come in handy for off-the-grid camping, if I need to do any of that. I’d also very much like to get away from here for a weekend because of a variety of other crazy things going on.
And I need to get ready to write a new book about QuickBooks Pro for Macintosh. I’ll work on that while I’m away this summer. I’ll be bringing two (possibly three) laptops with me so I can write. There’s another book I’ll be working on while away, but I’m under NDA about that and can’t say more.
In any case, I’m looking forward to a challenging summer away from Wickenburg.
I’m also looking forward to my three shorter trips over the next 40 days. I really do love to travel.