Content about travel

Renee and I are playing planes, trains, and automobiles today as we head home. Actually, it's train (T, red line), bus (T, silver line), plane (BOS->DTW), car (DTW->home).

Responsive image

This is usually when I'd take a picture of Jake looking out the window. I miss that. I am enjoying having the window seat, though.

Renee and I are on an early morning airport mission today, by ourselves. We're headed to Boston to visit Jonathan for the weekend, and Jake is staying home with Grandma.

It's been a long time since we travelled without the boys. Feels a little weird.

But, security was less stressful, as we only had to worry about ourselves.

Responsive image

Renee, Mike, Jake, and me made it to the top. Pam paused at the half way mark.

Responsive image

We hiked the Lanikai pillbox trail today. It was supposed to be a simple or beginner hike, but, after completing it, we collectively decided it's definitely a hike of moderate difficulty! We made it to both pillboxes and the views didn't disappoint. Here we're standing aside the first of the two pillboxes.

Responsive image

Jake sat in the row behind Renee and me on our flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, which gave me an opportunity for an interesting angle on my now traditional photo of him looking out the window as we fly. Here I caught him glancing at the first signs of land with the last bit of sunset still visible as we started our approach into LAX. I just love watching him watch anything to do with flying.

Responsive image

So long, Hawaii. Mahalo nui loa. See you again soon.

Up and at it. Kayaking in the North Shore today. Should be a lot of fun.

Responsive image

Maui crew saying goodbye — time to head back to Honolulu.

Responsive image

Jake slept on the pullout couch at our place in Maui. He didn't mind, and I can see why.

Responsive image

We had a nice walk through downtown Lahaina after dinner. Perfect temp and breeze.

Responsive image

Atmosphere, people, food, and drink—dinner tonight hit the mark in every category. Without even a hint of exaggeration, our dinner at Lahaina Grill tonight was one of the best meals I've ever had. Maybe even the best ever. I had the Monchong, btw, which was phenomenal. And two Macallan 15's.

Responsive image

We're island hopping today, flying this Boeing 717 from Honolulu to Maui. It's about a 22 minute flight—truly up and down.

Responsive image

The Aloha spirit is everywhere out here. This is the men's room sign at our gate in the Honolulu airport. I love it.

Responsive image

Local coffee and POG. Aloha, indeed.

Welcome back to Hawaii, where (midwesterners) wake up at 3AM and wait for the sun to rise.

One weird coincidence that happened on today's flights because of the rebooking yesterday — on the flight from Detroit to Los Angeles, the three of us sat in the last row of the plane. On the flight from L.A. to Honolulu, we sat in the first row. That combination made for a unique experience for sure!

Responsive image

A good book, two fingers of a decent bourbon (twice), and legroom—I now know what makes the perfect flight.

Responsive image

I've shot this same photo of Jake several times over the years and it just never gets old. His fascination with all things aviation fascinates me, and just makes me incredibly proud. I'm a little jealous of him and his awareness—at seventeen—of something he loves so much. Lucky kid. Keep flying Jake.

One benefit of our adjusted itinerary — we don't have to leave the house so early today. Our flight doesn't leave until the afternoon, so we slept in a bit, are now watching Sunday SportsCenter and generally taking it easy before leaving. Of course, that means we'll be settling into Aulani late tonight Hawaii time. Tomorrow, Eastern time.

Responsive image

I thought the "ticket counter" might be able to help, so I headed upstairs as Jonathan headed to security. The agent was understanding, but could only offer a supposedly secret customer service number as help. I called on the way home and, after about a thirty minute wait, connected with the first of two agents that made the whole thing fairly painless, even telling me to take my time to make a decision. We called back in later in the evening and rebooked for tomorrow.

Today did not go as planned. At all.

Renee, Jake, and I were supposed to start our Spring Break trip to Hawaii early this morning, flying out of Detroit. Jonathan was scheduled to fly back to Boston, also heading out of Detroit at about the same time. Just yesterday afternoon I realized that this morning might be our last "early morning airport mission" with the four of us (with Jonathan away at school, aligning all of our travel schedules is only going to get tougher), and I was really looking forward to that 6AM drive to Detroit Metro.

Jake had a little food poisoning last night, though, and was still throwing up this morning. So, we had to adjust the mission a bit. I drove Jonathan to the airport for his flight back to Cambridge and then headed home and to start the rebooking process. Jake was feeling better by the afternoon, so we felt confident about flying tomorrow. Delta was quite helpful (and even understanding), so, after a slight delay, we'll start our trip tomorrow.

Aloha.

Responsive image

It certainly feels good to travel again...delays and all. Delta cancelled my flight from Atlanta to Detroit, so now I have to spend a few hours in the Atlanta airport. But, that's alright...I can watch the Wings game I thought I would miss.

Responsive image

I arrived at the Charleston airport a few hours before my flight today, which means I listened to A few hours of Christmas music while watching planes takeoff and land, between emails and other work. It was surprisingly not annoying.

Responsive image

We used to call morning flights "early morning airport missions" when the boys were young, in an attempt to make it easier to get them out of bed and on the way in the morning of a travel day. I'm on an early morning airport mission today, by myself unfortunately.

Technology continues to isolate us from each other, both in ways we're fully aware of (checking our phones constantly) and in ways I don't think we appreciate yet. Case in point on the latter — after taking my seat on my flight back home today, I noticed how quickly everyone turns to the seatback monitor and the entertainment options available for the flight. Many people, include the guy sitting next to me, plugged their headphones in before the system was operational. Granted, today's flight is a brief two hours long, which means you've got to start a movie right away if you hope to finish it before landing.

It's sort of sad, though. The chance of striking up an interesting conversation with a seat mate in a plane seems to have dropped considerably lately, thanks to technology.

But, the movie selection is decent. And I did sit behind an older gentlemen that chose to watch Roger Rabbit, which is kind of cool.

I've got a quick turnaround today. After getting him from Boston late last night, I'm heading to Florida this morning for a few days.

This trip has really highlighted for me the drastic ways in which travel has changed in recent years. Not that it happened all at once — there's been a series of nudges that, summed together, create an entirely different travel experience, from beginning to end.

It starts with Renee's parents. They hadn't flown in years, so, last week, we set them up with the Delta app on their phones. I had really taken the convenience of etickets for granted a simple question from them - "are you sure we don't have to print these out?" - highlighted it to me.

Lodging? Yep, totally different. In Cambridge, we opted for an Airbnb instead of a hotel. This was my first Airbnb experience. We didn't really know what to expect on arrival as far as cleanliness, supplies, etc., which is one of the downsides of Airbnb as I see it (I pretty much know what to expect when I book a room at a Hilton or a Marriott, even if I've never been there before). But, we got an entire house, which was perfect for the size of our party and better than any combination of multiple hotel rooms would have been. And cheaper. And closer to Jonathan's dorm. And. And. And.

We used Uber to get around town during our visit. And not just for going from point A to point B, that's not really new. We did use it in a new way for us, though. Renee's mom gets tired after walking a bit, and the uneven sidewalks of Cambridge certainly didn't help that. So we told her — do what you can, and when you're ready, let us know and we'll get an Uber to take you back (to the Airbnb). I'm not sure she could have done this trip — to visit her grandson at Harvard for the first time — without this option. That's powerful, and really underscores the impact of some of the ways in which travel has changed.

And the food! Yes, we ate at some local restaurants. But, with long days of walking around campus, the option of having food delivered to our Airbnb was too convenient to resist. And not just traditionally delivered options like pizza. We had donuts and bagels delivered for breakfast, and Chinese food delivered for dinner. And, yes, pizza. But here's the thing with that — we weren't limited to the pizza joints that happened to offer delivery to our location. In fact, we didn't even think to search for a pizza place based on that criteria. Instead, we went straight to the website of Jonathan's favorite pizza place — Pinocchio's — and checked for delivery options. DoorDash for the win! So the entire family got to relax and visit with Jonathan, eating his favorite pizza in the comfort of a living room.

Entertainment? Well, we went to the Harvard v. Cornell hockey game on Friday night, which was a fairly traditional experience (Uber rides to and fro notwithstanding). And the Crimson won in dramatic fashion, which was great. On Saturday evening, as we ate our DoorDash-delivered Chinese food in our Airbnb living room, we realized the Crimson were playing again, this time against Colgate. We had so much fun the night before that we actually had a somewhat serious discussion about going again, but then realized we could stream it from the ESPN+ app onto the AppleTV in the living room. Ivy League hockey on the big screen in the living room while eating delivered takeout, all with family while visiting with Jonathan (and celebrating his 20th birthday, btw)...that moment, that evening, just could not have been a better experience (maybe if we had realized white rice is a separate menu item that needs to be ordered alongside the entrees...practical knowledge for next time!).

It's pretty remarkable when you think about it. A series of little changes, each quite innovative in its own lane, have suddenly congealed to revolutionize travel in a way that changes the experience for the better. They expand it, really. I think we've entered a new era of travel experiences, and I'm looking forward to the trip.

Responsive image

Met some killer light right as we arrived at our gate.

Responsive image

This has always been one of my favorite views of Jake — watching him take pictures of planes from a window seat. He's still a kid in a candy store every time we fly, and I love that. It's been too long since I've seen it.

Responsive image

Renee, Jake, and I are headed down to Orland for a quick visit to the Food and Wine festival at Epcot. This is the first time we've been in an airport since, well, over eighteen months ago when covid brought the world to a standstill. I have to say, it feels really good to be traveling.

Jake and Renee assured me they're both smiling beneath their masks.

Responsive image

Filling up on the beach must mean it's time to head home.

Responsive image

...to a sunset on the road north of Tampa.

Responsive image

From the fog in Tennessee

Responsive image

Bringing Teddy to Florida means I have to navigate Renee's accessories and his when I'm in the passenger seat.

Responsive image

It's been a year and a half since we've all been in the car together for The Drive. And this is the first time that we've All been together / Teddy included.

I always enjoy The Drive from Toledo to St. Pete. We started today at about 4:30, and just finished breakfast at our usual McDonald's in Florence. First shift down, several more to go.

"Her Siri, what's the weather in St. Pete Beach today?"

Yep...it's about time to get back to the beach.

Ironically, though, it's going to be warmer at home than down in SPB today.

Datelining this post made me realize—it's the first post I've datelined from St. Pete Beach in nearly a year and a half. Man I've missed this place.

Responsive image

Welcome to Florida.

Responsive image

Had a little rain this morning, which always seems to be the case for us as we enter Florida. It always feels like a Wally World moment to me—

"Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front should have told ya."

Responsive image

Final leg of the trip. It feels weird to do it in two days—we usually drive all the way through but thought Teddy might need a break. He did so well maybe we'll try it in one day next week.

Its official—we've got a good traveler. Teddy has been wonderful in the car. In the hotel last night, he got a little restless as he heard some doors and the elevators, but settled in after that and slept through the night.

On the bed.

For the first time.

😳

Responsive image

We were a bit worried that, after doing so well in the car all day, Teddy would have some energy to burn in the hotel room tonight. But, after a few walks in the yard out back, he zonked out right away.

Responsive image

And welcome to Georgia

Responsive image

Welcome to Tennessee! Jelico, to be precise.

Responsive image

This road trip is different for a lot of reasons. For one, it's Teddy's first trip to Florida. He's really good in the car, but we weren't sure how he would do on "the drive." So far, so good. Five and and half hours into it and he hasn't made a peep.

Responsive image

A blurry welcome to Kentucky!

Responsive image

I wanted to leave this morning by 4:30 AM. So I told everyone we were leaving at 4:00. It worked perfectly.

Responsive image

It's always a good day when you're loading the SunPass in the car. Heading to Florida tomorrow.

So long, Fargo.

Thank you to your kind people who treated us so wonderfully during our visit over the last few days. The hospitality they showed us was nothing short of wonderful and will forever identify your city and state in my mind.

Perhaps the best endorsement I can give comes from my 9-year old son, Jake. He was a bit hesitant to come on this trip (his brother Jonathan was participating in a robotics competition, and no other team members were bringing younger siblings). Our experience in Fargo appears to have won him over, though. As our plane took off from Hector International, and as I started to write this, he looked at me and said "I'm sad to be leaving Fargo."

And when we landed in Minneapolis, he told Renee "we need to go to Fargo again."

So long, Fargo. We'll be back.

Responsive image

We're heading home today. I'm going to miss greeting this guy every morning as we leave the hotel.

Responsive image

We're packed and ready to go. Go Hawks!

Here's something I never imagined I'd be saying:

>"It's December, and we're packed and ready to go to Fargo. And we're excited about it."

Jonathan's robotics team qualified for the Northern Plains BEST Championship at North Dakota State University. We laughed a little bit about having to head to Fargo in December for the competition, but never doubted that we'd be going. We even decided to make a family trip out of it - Jake's going with us and will serve as the team's mascot.

Responsive image

Up and on the road early today - driving to Cambridge to pick Jonathan up from school.