Tag Archives: flying

Welp, Here We Go Again

It’s been a helluva few days.  Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

On Sunday Ms. Müller and I left her little village a bit before noon and she drove me a couple of hours south to Frankfurt for my flight home.  We got there a little early and spent some time wandering around the airport and doing our best to delay the inevitable.  After a meal, a beer and yet another difficult goodbye I made my way through security.  I took my standard pre-transatlantic flight regimen of Jaeger and ambien and did my best to sleep my way to Washington DC.

Departure Board at Frankfurt Airport

Well, one of these is mine, unfortunately…

My flight to Dulles was delayed by about an hour which effectively cut my layover in half.  That might not sound so bad, but in the midst of a 20+ hour travel day, getting a chance to sit down and have a decent meal and a beverage or three is a nice little break.  Not to mention I know a little spot there that actually has Fat Tire on draft.  But no such luck.  Instead, after blearily clearing customs, retrieving my luggage from Frankfurt, re-checking my luggage to Denver, and going through security again (despite the fact that all I’d done since the last checkpoint was sit on an airplane for around 11 hours; it’s a ridiculous little circus one has to go through), I had only about 15 minutes to get to my gate for the next leg of the journey.

A few minutes after taking my seat, the captain got on the horn and made the ever-popular announcement that there were some technical issues with fueling the plane.  But, we needn’t worry as they were attempting to use “an alternate method” to get the plane fueled correctly and get us on our way.  Predictably, after an hour or so of unsuccessfully attempting to siphon some gas from the American Airlines plane at the next gate, or whatever the hell they were doing, they told us we’d need to switch planes.

By this time it was almost midnight local, so once again an actual meal was out of the question.  So a bag of trail mix, a walk through the terminal and new plane later, we finally took off better than 2.5 hours after our scheduled departure time.  At just after 2:00 in the AM, I finally arrived in Denver.  Now I like DIA, but it’s no fun that late at night.  You have to take a train from the concourse to the baggage claim, and they don’t exactly run a lot of trains at that hour.  It was better than 3:00 by the time I got all my shit and was ready to head home.

The little yellow one is me. Nice work guys.

Cabs are scarce that time of night, so it was a bit of a wait, but I finally got me a cab and got home at just about 4:00 in the morning, a full 24 hours after leaving Oberemt, Germany with Ms. Müller.  It had also been 24 hours since I ate anything other than airplane food, and after grabbing a bite to eat I realized it was just about 5:00.  Now I knew from experience that if I’d had the audacity to go to bed my sleep schedule would have destroyed for the next several days, so I hit up the gas station for a 4-pack of Red Bull, put my big boy pants on and went to work.

Thankfully it was a pretty quiet day, and I knocked off a little early and actually got a descent night’s sleep.  Yesterday wasn’t as kind.  Apparently one of our customers desperately needs some help installing some of our shit in Poland.  As such one of our dudes got pulled off a project in Pennsylvania to get out there and help.  I’m sure you can figure out exactly what that means for yours truly.  Yup.  At 7:00 tomorrow morning, a mere 75 hours after getting home from Germany, I’m off to beautiful Shippingsport, Pennsylvania to take his place.

It is what it is, I suppose.  And the money will be good.  But that was an awfully rude awakening.  I just got done with having a halfway normal life for a while.  And I liked it.  A lot.  I had 23 days of like, home-cooked meals.  And going to the movies.  And watching TV.  And going out to a bar where I actually know people.  And not being alone.  It was tough to get thrust so abruptly back into the reality to which I’ve grown accustomed.

I wish I had some time to catch my breath.  And like, launder my clothes.  But this also offers the silver lining of giving me something to do other than sit around and miss the shit out of the girl, the town, and the second family I just left.  Now I can work my ass off, drink for free, and miss the shit out of all of that, which is a marked improvement, so it’s not all bad.  But holy shit this little life of mine is hectic.  Bah.  Oh well, it’s a life worth leading anyway.

Here’s to the free meals and frequent flier miles.

Don’t be a stranger.

-B. Littleton

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The 24 Hour Travel Day to Germany

So just about half of Saturday and half of Sunday were devoted to making the 24 hour trek from Denver, Colorado to Marl, Germany.   The ‘day’ started in a pretty hardcore little blizzard in Colorado, had brief sojourns in Chicago and Frankfurt, and ended in some random tiny little town nearby the Nazi-built facility at which Glen and I have the pleasure of working this week.
Honestly wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.  The city had plows all over the storm, the airport was smooth sailing, all our flights were on time, and I got bumped to first class on the flight to Chicago.  Take a look at the trip though the eyes of my phone.

The view from my bedroom window when I awoke....

Digging out the truck for the trek to the airport.

One of the benefits of driving a Taco. I was able to plow through a snowbank to get pretty much the best spot in the economy lot. And, I got to plow through a snow bank. That was fun.

The walkway to the A concourse at DIA. If you ever fly through DIA, go to the concourse A security checkpoint, as you can see, it's almost always empty.

On to O'Hare. Known to many frequent fliers as "that shitty airport I have to fly through."

This is their walkway between the B and C concourses.

I bet this was the shit in 1982.

The friendly Chicagoans were less than impressed with the fact that I was taking pictures.

Long-ass flight from O'Hare to Frankfurt. 9 hours. Ambien helps a lot. I don't remember the flight from this point on.

The departure board at the Frankfurt Airport. 2nd busiest airport in Europe to Heathrow.

Ah yes, the meitwagen (rental car). Sometimes we get lucky and get a super sweet meitwagen. This trip is one of those times. Driving on the Autobahn is f*%king awesome. Thanks to Glendo for the picture. My hairline looks amazing, by the way.

My esteemed colleague Glendo is clearly pretty excited to be in Germany.

Rhode Island right?

Home for a few days. Sleepy Marl, Germany

My humble abode for the trip. European hotel rooms are pretty tiny. This one isn't too bad though.

And finally, the hotel/bar/restaurant at which Glen and I have dined the last couple of nights. Not much to chose from in this little place....

Stay tuned, I’ll be putting up some more pictures of our little German host-town, and the Haus Dellwig, the little castle we visited yesterday, in the next few days.

Gute Nacht aus Marl

-B. Littleton

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Filed under The Road, The Sights

The Travel Day

Well, it’s been almost a month since I last graced you with a new blog post, so I suppose it’s time…  Been a busy boy since I last descended my soap box; 8 days in Germany, 28 hours in Paris, a round of layoffs at work and now I’m a bit tipsy sitting in the Lazy Dog Saloon located inside a Comfort Inn in Charleston, West Virginia.  I’m strategically positioned at the corner of the bar, my back to the wall, my front to a free shot of Jim Beam and a free Stella Artois.  The place is poorly lit at best and damn near empty; there are five guests that aren’t me, all in their twenties, all of whom work at the casino a half-mile down the road, and all of whom are discussing the death of Osama Bin Laden.  I’m not gonna speak to that at the moment, just painting a picture.

Yes, I have stories to tell.  The rest of my Germany trip was quite entertaining; both a shitload of astonishingly hard (and frankly dangerous) work and a guerilla road trip to Paris.  Exactly the kind of trip that made me want to start a blog, but too busy of a trip to waste my time blogging.  Those stories, intriguing as they are, will have to wait until the next time I’m bored and a drinking in front of my laptop.  So probably tomorrow.

For now I want to discuss possibly the best part of my job: The Travel Day.  I’d say about 80% of the time I have a job few men would envy.  The other 20% is The Travel Day.  Now, more than likely most of you shudder at the thought of spending a full day in airports and airplanes, dealing with check-ins and checkpoints, and sitting in overpriced restaurants and under-sized seats.

I, however, am not most of you.  I got three things going for me that make The Travel Day the day that I look forward too:

  1. First and foremost a little thing they call ‘door to door’ pay.  This means that for all intents and purposes, I clock in when I walk out the door of my apartment, and clock out when I walk in the door to my hotel room in whatever city they send me to.  That means that a two hour delay due to mechanical issues is two extra hours on my paycheck.  This is invaluable.  It means the very shit that frustrates the normal traveler earns me an extra 60 bucks.  Layovers are my friends and delayed flights my confederates.  Pretty damn sweet.
  2. The open expense account.  No per diems or company cards here.  I spend what I need to on whatever: hotels, rental cars, meals, drinks, tools, shipping, you name it, and I get reimbursed for the expenses.  Breakfast and lunch have to be ‘reasonable.’  Dinner has to be 50 bucks or less.  And every expense I incur due to my travel is expensable.  That means the 10 dollar burger and the 8 dollar bloody mary’s are free, so long as the entire check is 50 or less.  So not only am I getting paid for my 3 hour layover, I get free food and drink while getting paid for my 3 hour layover.  A smaller, but important, benefit, is that I get full ownership of my frequent flier miles (which have already sent me to Buenos Aires for free) and my hotel points (frequent flier miles for hotels, these have already bought me a sweet ipod touch and a few Christmas presents) and all the rewards for the thousands of dollars I put on credit cards each month.
  3. Premier Executive status with United Airlines.  This translates to free baggage, economy plus seating (normal coach plus 6 inches of leg-room, I’m 6’5” tall, this is key) on every flight that gets an airplane big enough to have the seats (all but the puddle-jumpers), and I get a bump to first class if it’s available.  I got bumped to first class today on the Denver to Chicago leg of my trip to beautiful Charleston.  I’m also privy to my own counter when I check in, which never has a line, my own entrance to security check points, also never has lines, and the most comfortable seat available on my flight, which I get to board first.  United takes good care of me.  I figure I, by way of my employer, spend about $40K annually on their services, so they’d better.

So, remove all of the things that you hate about travel.  The wasted time, the frustration, the lines, the expensive food, the whatever it is that pisses you off and replace it all with free drinks, free meals, preferential treatment and a cozy seat on the airplane and all of a sudden The Travel Day turns from a headache into a handy way to get paid to eat, drink and sleep.  And people-watch.  I’m a chronic people-watcher.  This is by far my favorite aspect of The Travel Day (well, behind the money, meals and cocktails).  But, the people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering are other stories for other days.  Don’t touch that dial…

B. Littleton.

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