Travel stuff: Pilot and Captain

I like stuff. Some of my favorite stuff includes T-shirts. Pilot and Captain makes some of my very favorite T-shirts ever. No, I wasn’t paid to say this!

Since this is a travel blog, and I work in the travel industry, you won’t be surprised to see why I like these so much when you visit their site. Each shirt has a cool design with an airport’s 3 letter IATA code on the front. They come in nifty colors and are super soft and comfortable. I have the ones for LON, MSY, LAS, DCA, and DUB plus a fun postcard and a random BOS luggage tag-shaped magnet that they kindly included with my last order. I cannot wait to get the new AMS tee.

They also sell a ton of other stuff like vintage-inspired prints, mugs, notebooks, and totes, not to mention some really fun items like twistable/foldable paper globes and “vintage turbo flyers”!

There are also a few field guides to various U.S. cities.

I made this post on a whim, and all the pictures I am trying to take of my shirts are coming out terrible with our horrible overhead lighting (or lack thereof) so I’ll just skip the pix and tell you to check them out at http://pilotandcaptain.com/ (PS They have a new Texas collection! My husband’s family lives in Texas and I’ve been out there for work four other times so my house is covered in Texas stuff! Surprisingly I can’t wait to get more!)

The Story So Far …

I had this crazy idea of trying to make a list of every overnight trip I’ve ever been on in my life. Then I realized that would take quite some doing. I’d have to leaf back through old journals and photos and interview all my family members to get the full details of every place I’ve ever been.

So instead, I’m just going to track where I’ve been over roughly the past year, for overnight trips only, and not counting weekend visits to see friends or family who live close by or nights spent crashing at somebody’s home, starting with June 2013. Lots of fun times (and not so fun times, but that’s part of the package called LIFE).

Where will the next year take me? Who knows! I’ll probably be traveling a lot less though.

2013
June: Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi; Brunswick, Georgia (via Jacksonville, Florida); Atlanta, Georgia
July: Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, Louisiana
August: Jane’s Island, Crisfield, Maryland; Bloomington, Minnesota (via Minneapolis)
September: Nags Head, North Carolina; Garden City Beach/Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
October: Aiken, South Carolina (via Columbia); maybe one other place but I don’t remember what it was and I can’t figure it out!
November: Morgantown, West Virginia
December: Las Vegas, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Corpus Christi, Texas (via San Antonio)
2014
January: Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico
February: (still in Albuquerque); brief weekend trip to Florida
March: I don’t think I went anywhere significant!
April: Portland, Oregon; Cincinnati/Norwood/Blue Ash, Ohio
May: finished Ohio trip; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas
June: Edina, Minnesota (via Minneapolis); Rehoboth Beach/Lewes/Cape Henlopen, Delaware; Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park Virginia
July: Fort Collins, Colorado
August: Nothing planned though I’m tempted to plan a last minute trip to Chincoteague or something! I do have four unused vacation days!

Coming up: Our annual family pilgrimage to South Carolina’s Grand Strand! I am SO excited for this trip! I even bought a guide book to the area for the first time in my life. (I’ve been there at least 11 times!) After that my husband and I have a room reserved at the Big Meadows lodge for two nights right in the middle of fall foliage season. And then I’ll probably be laying low on the (leisure) travel for a while, which is really hard for me, but we have a BIG trip planned for March 2015 (a 10 day Caribbean cruise with five ports and tons of fun!). It gives me a good opportunity to get more done at home … like putting up all my travel posters and postcards, and dusting all these souvenirs. ;)

Whether you’re lounging at home, making day trips or dreaming up your next big vacation, may all your summer days be fabulous in one way or another!

On the Road Again

It’s one of those busy times of year when I’m on the road a lot. I saw Portland, Oregon for the first time last week. That was only my second trip to a West Coast state. I now have just 19 states to go before I’ve been to all of ‘em. Then I plan to finish conquering the countries of Central America and the Caribbean. :) Of course, I’ll never stop traveling my own beloved country as much as possible.

This week I am in the Cincinnati area. I have been by here a few times, but never spent any time in Cincinnati itself that I can think of. I flew into Covington, Kentucky (which is where the Cinci airport actually is), drove right past the glittering collection of Cincinnati towers and on into the adjacent city of Blue Ash, where I am staying. My work this week is in another neighboring city, Norwood and I believe I drive through a couple of other Cincinnati “suburb” cities on my way to and from work. (Montgomery is one.) So I’m driving all over the place. I took a bit of a drive through Blue Ash today and saw mostly businesses and some open green fields. It looks like a nice town. I’ve been a bit lame and not really gone out here much because well, I’m here for work and I’m very tired at the end of each day and still have some additional work to do once I get back to my hotel. I hope to get out in Cincinnati proper on Friday night and maybe tomorrow night too. I also understand Indiana is not far from here at all and that would cross another state off my list. For now, room service and relaxing are my best friends.

Scenes from the Sky

We frequent flyers (or flyers, period) who are window-seat lovers can all agree: There’s nothing like the view of the world from up high. How lucky we are to live in an age when a plane ticket is all that separates us from a bird’s eye view.

Some of my very favorite things seen from 30,000 feet have included the following:

-The Grand Canyon
-The green, green grass of Ireland
-Seeing the shadow of the plane on the cloud carpet below (accompanied by a mini circle of rainbow)
-Seeing other planes whizzing by in the distance (or below you)
-The sun setting on one side of the sky, while the other side is already dark and studded with stars. How beautiful to see the night rushing in.
-Fall leaves changing at their peak – creating a fiery blaze of glorious bright color pops
-Snow covered mountains
-The endless lakes of Minnesota, studding the landscape as far as the eye can see
-Las Vegas rising up out of the desert
-Hoover Dam
-New York City – especially the Statue of Liberty!
-My own apartment building. I fly past it routinely!
-Looking down and seeing nothing but ocean below! (also one of my favorite things about looking out from the top deck of a ship!)
-The landing gear coming down from under the wing as we approach our destination. I have been fortunate enough to sit right behind this area on past flights and for me, it’s quite an interesting thing to watch.
-Looking for the bright blue specks (swimming pools) in people’s backyards (my favorite as a very young child)
-I’m sure there are plenty more I could mention, but my personal favorite … one of which I’ll never tire … is the gorgeous sight of the monuments of the metro DC area. Whether lit up at night or gleaming in full sunlight, seeing that beautiful white marble welcoming me home never, ever gets old. At times I feel like we are so close that I could reach out from my window and touch the Washington Monument, the Capitol, the top of the Pentagon. The gasps of pleasure and delight from first-time visitors to our area as they spy these sights are lots of fun too. City life can contribute to grumpy attitudes for many of us, so it’s refreshing to hear someone greeting DC with anticipation! And the icing on the cake, for me, on a return flight into my home airport is seeing the water of the Potomac so close underneath us that it’s almost a little bit frightening!

How about you?

Seein’ the States: Recent and Upcoming Travels

December:

-Las Vegas for our first wedding anniversary! It was fabulous as always. It was my second trip and Eric’s first. We had a fantastic time in our gorgeous luxury GO suite at the Flamingo and trekking all over the Strip. We did get slowed down a bit by an unfortunate case of tendonitis I developed – talk about painful! Because of that we did not make it over to Sam’s Town, the Stratosphere on the North End, the Vegas sign on the South end or to downtown (Fremont Street or “Old Vegas”). However, that’s what follow-up trips are for! We hope to get out there again this summer and experience “hot Vegas” for once.

-Austin, a first time trip for me, for a week for business. Didn’t get out to see much on this first trip which didn’t bother me because I knew I’d be back at least twice in 2014 – but I definitely ate my weight in Tex-Mex. One of my best friends, Beth, made the trip down from Lubbock to visit on my last night there which was GREAT. I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Airport Austin which I highly recommend. I’m finally at Elite Silver status for Marriott which is encouraging me to seek out Marriotts more often.

-Corpus Christi for Christmas with my wonderful in-laws! I got the grand tour, including stops at the Texas State Aquarium and Padre Island, and ate lots of great food including fabulous Puerto Rican homecooked Christmas dinner. We also ate at a great restaurant in San Antonio. Christmas this year will be in KG, but I’m sure we’ll be back to Corpus again before then. His parents very nicely put us up in a Residence Inn Marriott.

January/February:

-Return to Austin for nearly two weeks – this time my husband joined me for a good deal of the trip. It was nice to have him there and we did lots of fun things including walking all over the famous 6th Street, where we visited a quirky arcade bar, bought way too many books at BookPeople, chilled out in a city park, and ate a ton of good food including a fabulous meal at one of Sandra Bullock’s restaurants, Bess Bistro. Sadly, it was not bat season or we would’ve seen an impressive display from the winged critters, some of Austin’s most famous residents! I will be back in April. And yes, it was the same Courtyard Marriott again – impeccable service!

-Albuquerque, another first time trip, for another long business trip of about 12 days. I love it! I had seen New Mexico before, but only briefly. ABQ is full of friendly people and gorgeous views. Even the highways are decorated with art – glowing blue “mountains”, pottery jars, a giant rattlesnake – and in the background you can see the lovely Sandia Mountains. Eric flew out just for the weekend and we saw two old friends (and groomsmen) of his, Seth and Mike. We discovered we love New Mexico’s famous green chile at the Owl Cafe with Seth and tried a homegrown ghost chile at Mike’s (and some tasty homemade peanut brittle made with ghost chile by his father-in-law). We rode the tram up to Sandia Peak and ate at the High Finance restaurant at the top while snow whipped around outside. I stayed at a Residence Inn at the “25” development.

Upcoming trips include (for work) Miami and Austin and (for play), our annual Lynch family Beach Week to the Grand Strand in September! I’m also trying to plan a birthday-week trip driving up the East Coast to visit Portland, Maine. That would add at least three new states to my U.S. state checklist! Currently, I’m just 20 states away from having all seen all 50.

My current U.S. “states visited” map courtesy of visitedstatesmap.com:

50 states map30 down, 20 left to go!

Texas Landscape Observations

Texas Trip 2 of 4 (Winter ’13/’14) is nearly done. I’ll be back in two weeks for another stay in Austin.

Southeast Texas is chilly and gray and sometimes rainy right now; I’m told that’s rare even in December. As I observed in Austin (more central) last week and in College Station-Bryan (much closer) in 2008, what I’ve seen of this state is mostly flat with a large amount of sprawl (including tons of restaurants – Texas boasts plenty of great food). Many times the only real height in the landscape comes in the form of towering highway overpasses. Corpus Christi is much flatter than Austin however, and sits right on the beautiful bay which is part of the Gulf of Mexico and displays many colors in its waters even on a cloudy day. The road to Corpus from San Antonio is largely farmland and reminds me of a cross between my own hometown in rural Virginia, and the even more rural area of Quintana Roo state in eastern Mexico. (We’re just four hours from the border here, says my mother-in-law). Huge clusters of prickly pear cacti welcome you on your route, along with the occasional herd of cattle. These areas must be perfect for stargazing – a favorite activity of mine wherever the night sky is untainted by city lights.

Land Sharks

Leaving work in Austin each day, I wait at the light in my little red Fiat to make a left turn back towards TX-71, facing the AUS (Bergstrom Airport) runways. I can see planes both coming in and taking off from the airport, depending in which direction I crane my neck. Blocking my view of the runways themselves is a grassy embankment. I can’t see the plane roaring at top speed on the ground, but I can see just the airplanes’ tails as they go by. Each tail looks like a multicolored shark’s fin gliding by at that angle. It highly amuses me. It’s the little things folks.