It’s the people stupid
It’s the people stupid is a thought that keeps running around in my head. The trip to Monterey for the 21 mile portion of the Big Sur Marathon was amazing. Met some great people some new and some old. There were 4 couples on the Caribbean cruise back in January. The ladies were the runners and the men gave it a good try. 2 of the ladies joined up with two others to run the relay of the Big Sur Marathon and we all met up at the beer tent afterwards to lick our wounds. Beer after a long run is the best beer every. It only takes a few sips to get a good buzz and you are replenishing the much-needed carbohydrates.
The race itself was on the top ten races I have run so far. The views and vistas were out of this world. Breath taking would not do it justice. The other part I loved was the sheer challenge of the race. There was one part where you climbed up hill for 2 miles. Each bend had it’s own surprise when it came to seeing the ocean on the left and the mountains on the right. The people there all seemed to enjoyed living there and as they put it the weather did not change much year round. Perfect running temperatures year round. Mid 50’ to low 60’s. Just a tad cool for year round but would be perfect for running. They had a great trail near the water that went for miles in either direction. I understand they had a world-famous Aquarium but as I said before. Can’t see or do it all.
Took a bus tour to surrounding Pebble Beach and Carmel. I can see why those ladies come back year after year to do this race. Might come back in November next year for their half marathon. That course is in the downtown area and very flat. We met a few other couples that were with Marathon tours and had some interesting times together. Always easy to start and continue a conversation when folks hear what we have been up to this year.
During our travels we have met some very interesting people. Most say they would like to get in our suitcase in order to join us in our travels. The truth of the matter is that this lifestyle is not for everyone. Most would have problems giving us their things. Those items are who they are where as our experiences are who we are.
One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.
After Monterey we headed south, down the coast to Malibu Beach. Beautiful but you are getting what you are paying for. My sister works in LA and her very close friend suggested the Malibu Beach Inn. Very nice hotel and we had dinner on the deck overlooking the ocean at sunset.
It does not get any better than that. Another example of how our travels has shown us that it is the people stupid. No matter where we go we seem to run into some old friends, new ones or family.
For a complete change of pace off to Kentucky for Derby. I have been in or around Louisville most of my 26 years at UPS and I must say they do a great job when it comes to the famous Kentucky Derby. Met up with my sister her wife and one of her very close friends for an all out great time. Did not win at the track but figured that I did a great job stimulating the economy.
After a few days to recover in ATL and get ourselves prepared for the latest adventure. Presently on flight 2 of 2 headed to China. First leg was to Amsterdam then after 4 hours on the ground now on an 11 hour flight to Hong Kong. Working on running a marathon in all 7 continents so no sense repeating Asia so opted for the half of the Great Wall of China Marathon.
Also have a full marathon in Copenhagen 8 days later so no reason to totally abuse my body.
The Thousand or so steps along the wall will be enough abuse I would think.
I use to joke about why I did not fly Asia more while at UPS. If something was to happen there while I was there it would take a long time to get home and I stick out like a sore thumb. As the kids were growing up it was not good to be that far from home if something was to happen at home. The same principle would apply. It would take me a long time to get home.
I think I have learned my lesson after this trip. Next time I am going to stop off in Amsterdam for a few days then make the long trip over to Asia. Not sure where to visit next time but as I said before the world is very big so I am sure I will be able to find somewhere interesting. Vietnam keeps coming up as a possible destination.
Had our first mini Snafu just prior to our trip. Note to self, when the folks at Hertz Car Rental return say check to make sure you have your cell phones etc., do actually check.
I did not heed the warning and it was not until we were half way to the airport on the tram that I realized that my cell phone was not with me. After a quick return trip to the drop off point I realized that I would have to make this trip with out it. Got back to where I left the car and there was a car just like the one I drove and the cell phone was nowhere to be found.
Good thing I opted for three hours prior for this trip. Headed back to drop off the bags and lick my wounds. Called the hotel with no luck and then it was suggested to use find my phone app.
Pulled it up and it showed my phone was in fact back at the rental car return center. Now with 2 hours to go before flight, back on the tram to pin point its location. That is when I learned that the car I check was not the one I drove and for what ever reason my car had already been repositioned to parts unknown. I got everyone at hertz involved and watched my phone start to move towards me on the app. Long story short they brought back my car and there was the phone right where I left it as it fell out my pocket.
As luck would have it this was not my day to be able to go thru TSA pre
check so that added another 30 minutes to the airport experience but do to proper planning was still able to stop by the Delta lounge for a glass of wine. Moral to this story. Do as I did when I was a pilot. When someone asks you a question verify the answer and not just assume you know what you are doing just because you have done it many times before.
Just went by Moscow at 33,000 feet, traveling at 579 MPH with a little over 7 hours to go with a 10 am local arrival time so this would be a great time to take a nap. Never was able to sleep on an airplane but since I have been up for over 24 hours I will give it a try.
Needless to say not even able to nap. I think it from all the years of flying planes myself. Something unnatural about sleeping in an airplane. Not a problem for our flight attendant on this flight from Hong Kong to Beijing. She slept all the way from when we left the gate to top of climb. I am sure it was a bit unsettling for passengers around her. I thought it was pretty funny to watch. Head was bobbing up and down just like everyone else.
Just spent 3 days in Hong Kong and there was so much to learn that I did not know about the area. As part of our tour we had a day long bus tour and our guide did a great job of giving us the inside scoop with a great sense of humor. Never seen so many overhead cable cars. They had them everywhere. I was surprised they did not have one to the airport but did have one nearby. They really take advantage of all the surrounding mountains by putting them from one peak to the next.
A couple of things that we were able to see that were on the list of 500 things you should see before you die. The first was the largest nightly light show in the world. Even though it was raining at the time it was well worth the soaked shoes. Our hotel was on the Kowloon Peninsula and they are noted for having the tallest building built on a land fill. Not sure of the exact figures but they have doubled the land size by merely filling in the surrounding water way. Needles to say they have ferries going everywhere. Both slow and high-speed and some even out to the airport.
The next day was a free day so off to the second noted marvel for the area. The largest sitting Buddha in the world. This is not an easy trip to and from but well worth the effort. Unfortunately one of their many cable cars was out of commission so it was two subways and a bus ride up the mountain to what is clearly the largest sitting Buddha. Enjoyed the highly efficient subway right and white knuckle trip up and down the mountain one way in each direction and still surprised we managed to make all the turns without hitting someone going in the opposite direction. I can’t seem to go and come the same way so this time we opted for the two ferries to make it back to Kowloon. One fast and one slow. In between while in Hong Kong we had to experience the longest outdoor escalator/moving sidewalk in the world all up hill.
This is where I jump back to it is the people stupid premise. While making the trip up the mountain past all the shops, restaurants and bars there were often short places to walk as you transitioned from one escalator to the next. There sitting in restaurant was a fellow UPS pilot who was on a layover. He saw me first and came out to greet us. We were both very surprised to see each other half way around the world. After good conversation we parted ways and I commented how small the world is.
I know in an earlier blog I talked about how big it is and in some ways you can say that but in this case it just goes to show you how small it can be in some ways. I mentioned to a Face Book friend that we met during the trip to Bangkok about a lounge singer where we were staying and it turns out they have sung together and are also friends. On the flip side some people on this tour we are traveling with are going on to India and Jordan. I guess I will have to add that to my list of places to go. Might be able to add it to the 2016 planner since I only have 20 destinations planned. In contrast this year if all goes as planned we are looking at nearly and closing in on the half way mark with Beijing being destination number 47. I did not say different destination since some have been repeats with ATL being on the top of that list.
After reaching the top of the escalator system we had to take a different route since the escalator during that time of day only goes up. They run it from the top to the bottom in the morning so people can get to work. You could simply parallel the system for the way back down but knowing me had to find an alternate route which turned out much better. Not nearly as steep, not as many steps and we were able to find a great wine bar to wet our whistle. Slow ferry back to Kowloon and topped off with a short walk back to the hotel.
Counter intuitive but had one of the best steaks ever and the saying the you get what you pay for applies in this case. I guess we are going to have to fast for 24 hours to stay under budget.
That is from one include breakfast in Hong Kong to the next included breakfast at the JW Marriott in Beijing can’t wait to see what upgrade I might get there since I have now reached the level of lifetime Platinum member.
No upgrade but who needs one when you have one of the best rooms I have stayed in. Great view and spacious room. They even have a printer in the room. I was able to get access to the executive lounge so life is good. I have decided not to bore you with the details but I will say this portion of the trip was like a marathon and not a sprint. We were busy on tours etc. from sun up to well past sun down and each tour got better and better including some of the meals that were provided. Marathon Tours pulled out all the stops on this one. I will need some rest and relaxation after this tour.
In order to properly prepare yourself for the Great Wall of China Marathon you actually have to drive out to the start, 2 and 1/2 hours and walk the steps you will be trying to run in tow days. This gave everyone a good feel for what they would be up against and to prepare accordingly. The going up part was not that bad is was trying to come down on the steps in some parts that really scared me. I held on with both hands, when I could, for dear life. Glad I decided to only do the half. We got the complete run down on what to expect on race day and off we were for the trip back to the hotel, and more tours. Some folks took time off from the tours but I figured I came this way so why not try to see it all.
There were people everywhere in Beijing and was surprised to learn that most of the tourist were Chinese. The air quality was not as bad as I thought it was going to be but many on the trip ended up with bad coughs and even one couple who were to continue on to India had to cut their trip short. The race itself was spectacular and we took our time and enjoyed most of it. Catherine ended up tripping on some rocks around mile 10, which is after the wall, and cut her knee pretty bad. We were able to patch it up and we ended up finishing but had to get it attended to right after the finish.
Turns out the doctor who stitched her up had a clinic in Copenhagen and gave us her info for us to have the stitches removed. Small world once again. More tours the next day and then off we went to Xian to view the world-famous Terra Cotta warriors. They say this was the 8th wonder in the world. I thought there were only seven but what do I know. I do know when you read up on it you will agree that was some crazy shit. No details here, but it was amazing to see and think what was possible over 2 thousand years ago. Air quality was even worst in Xian and we were glad to be headed to Copenhagen in a few days.
Another Marriott for the first few days in Copenhagen as we prepared for the Marathon a mere 8 days after the Great Wall. Reason number 2 as to why we only did the half in China.
Endless loop advertisement for the Copenhagen Marriott ran on the TV and had to share.
Every day is yours for the taking
There are Adventures to be had
Challenges to face
Opportunities to do something great
I would have to agree on those catch phrases. I have been trying all my life to think along the same lines. In retirement it is now all amplified. I was reading an article about retirement and it said that you should plan out your retirement. If you think you could play golf for 30 years you will realize that you will be bored after 6 months. Not sure how you can plan for 30 years. I have learned that during retirement you have to be flexible. You might think you know what you will be doing for the next year or two but in reality shit happens and you have to bend and flex to those circumstance. I must admit that you do need to do some financial planning and budget your expenses.
I however refuse to pay someone to invest my money. They have no skin in the game so I would rather just spend it all till it is gone.
While on the road this time I came up with a great book idea.
How to run all over the world for $500 a day.
A not so practical guide.
Two problems, first I can’t get our daily cash burn rate down to that amount and second, it sounds too much like work. Maybe over time I will reconsider. As I have said before, Airfare, is the highest expense so if I can stay put longer than an average of 3 days per destination I could get the cost per day down to $500. This last trip was almost $800 a day but it was a once in a life time trip and well worth it. It stills sounds too much like work but maybe fun as a part-time job over the next few years.
When I told people I was going to Copenhagen everyone would say, “you have to rent a bike for a day and tour the city.” I have ridden bikes a lot over my life time and have had two serious accidents on them during that period of time so I must admit I was somewhat reluctant. Copenhagen made it easy for me to resist the temptation. They are bike crazy there. I must admit the streets are laid out perfectly for bikes but they are everywhere and come out of nowhere to try to run you down. Walkers are on the bottom end of the totem pole with bikes on top.
They even let motor scooters in the bike lane so you really have to be careful crossing thru the bike lanes and must look in all directions at all times. Enough about bikes and anyhow during the marathon we ran over the city and some parts twice so no need in he touring the city by bike. The marathon itself was one of the best I have experienced. It was well-organized and it really had a party feel to it. It kind of reminded me of London with people shouting out from the pubs with encouragement. Very flat course and it was easy to see why people fall in love with this place. They have parks everywhere. Since it was in the 60’s everyone was out cheering us on.
They have a fantastic Mass transit system but on two separate days I ended renting a car. The first time was to drive out to the country to go to the clinic of the doctor that put in Catherine’s stitches so she could remove them. It was a nice drive but once again I had to get out-of-the-way of all the bikes.
The second time was to drive back out to the airport since mass transit would take several hours and trying to catch a cab a 4am did not look promising. We ended up only staying at the Marriott for 3 nights then we moved into an apartment out near the university. Turns out we ran within a block of this apartment during the marathon. I use home away when renting apartments and this was a very nice apartment centrally located. We were able to run along the canals and that was only a day after the marathon.
After Copenhagen we were off to Amsterdam on the last leg of this trip and stayed there for 6 days. We were able to use mass transit to get to our apartment. I must admit that traveling like this is a learning experience. Got our train ticket at the airport and went down to the track for the train to central station. To my surprise you really have to be careful getting on a train 2 minutes before the one you are supposed to get on departs. Needless to say we got on the wrong train. Lucky for us the man sitting next to us not only spoke english he also pulled up an app that gave us the information on how to get on the right train. Two stops later we ran from one track to another and lucky for us the original train was one minute late and were now on our way to central station.
The man who we rented the apartment from gave us directions on which tram to catch from the station and several minutes later we were shaking hands as he gave us a tour of his place. This was not after lugging all of our bags up the steepest 3 flights of steps I had ever seen in my life. The great wall of China paled by comparison. This place was fantastic. All the comforts of home and even had several very interesting displays concerning many of his travels. I am sure he had many stories to tell and I am sure we will be back to hear a few.
I had mentioned earlier about the Terra Cotta warriors and he had a complete display concerning their exploits. It is truly a very small world. If I was doing the advertising for Amsterdam the catch phrase I would us is.
ONLY IN AMSTERDAM
I am sure many of you know some of what I am talking about. There are hundreds of things you can only see and do in Amsterdam but it seemed like every time I turned around it was the same theme over and over. I will touch on two items here the rest of them you will just have to go and see for yourself.
The first one is the diversity. I covered millions miles in my life time but have never seen so many different people in one city in my life. NYC is a close second. Every 3rd person was someone from a different race and or religion. However there were not very many African-American males to be seen. Many looked like me but by listening to their speech it was clear English was not their first language. The second one was the lack of police presence. I am sure they were somewhere but must have been in the shadows. For a tourist destination that was very surprising. I could not find any peddlers that usually take over the cities so not sure how they were able to pull that off.
I am sure all have heard of the red light district but for me I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who were walking around in that area. Bars and clubs as far as the eye could see. Not a single policeman or woman present and nearly everyone was in some state of drunkenness. This was very surprising. Only thing I could figure is that since the crowds were so diverse no one felt that if they started something that they had someone to watch their back so survival instincts took over and everyone kept to themselves.
I have done many a pub crawl in my days but most I was the ring leader. Here in Amsterdam the same folks that ran the canal boats and the Big Red Bus also had an organized pub crawl. When it was all said and done 500 of us met up at the first bar and then were split up in 3 groups determined by the color wrist band given to us at the first bar. For the next 5 hours we went from bar/club to bar/club. It was all coordinated so that not more than one group ended up at the same place at the same time. Each had 3 or 4 guides to make sure you we got from one place to the other and that we had a great time. That was the best organized chaos I had ever seen and it was a great time and highly recommended especially if you want to experience the red light district from an arm’s length.
Of course I did the canal boat tour and big red, hop on and hop off, bus tour. I must admit every time I do one of these tours I think back to my business idea of doing the same thing while running a marathon. You could listen to your play list and when the passing some place famous it would give you a full description. Once again that sounds too much like work.
One of the last tours is called the Heineken experience. Little did I know that the first Heineken brewery was in Amsterdam and they give tours of this brewery. It was like an interactive beer museum with beer at the end. Not as good as beer at the end of the marathon but still worth the trip. Did a lot of running along the Canals and visited my second favorite park, called Vondel Park. My favorite being Lumphini Park in Bangkok.
After dragging the bags back down the steps, holding on with one hand for dear life, tram and train back to the airport it was an uneventful flight back to Atlanta. Flight was on time but then chaos. The F terminal was experiencing an emergency so it was shut down so after 30 minutes we went to the E terminal. Since our final destination was ATL we could not claim our bags in E and had to go to F. We were now on the other side of customs but when we arrived at F we had to figure out a way to get back thru customs to our bags. Groups of 10 were escorted back to the bag claim area and 3 hours after we touched down we were getting into the rental car off to the hotel. I was able to remain calm by remembering the Copenhagen Marriott catch phrase.
Challenges to face
After two days to regroup and repack we are now off to Bloomington to meet up with Catherine daughter and two grandson’s, Graduation party for her niece and then on Birthday party for two of my favorite UPS employee’s, Francis and Brenda. It will be great to catch up since all the former employee’s seem to make it a yearly pilgrimage.
After that back to ATL to get the flip-flops and swim ware since the next trip is as follows.
Flight to LA on the 10th, overnight, flight to Tahiti on the 11th, overnight, 7 night Windstar cruise of the Tahitian islands, one month in an apartment in Tahiti, flight to Cairns Australia on July 18th, flight to Ayers rock on the 23rd with my 59th marathon around the famous rock on the 25th. Throw in some camel rides, bridge climbs etc then off to Sydney for a few days and finally back to Atlanta on the July 30th a mere 51 days later and about 30K lighter in the pockets.
I thought I was in the clear when it came to finding some place else run to but lo and behold the Delta Sky magazine had a great article about Golden Isles Ga. Never heard of the place but Brunswick Ga has non stop flight to Atlanta. Might have to do some research and see if it is worth a visit in the next few years. There are a few Marriott hotels and home away apartments in the area so sounds promising.
Until next time remember
Every day is yours for the taking
There are Adventures to be had
Challenges to face
Opportunities to do something great
Right after the Big Sur 21 Miler
What a View