Here’s a lovely touch of spring for you.
Your friendly traveling photographer is actually traveling again. My travels this week brings me to Tacoma, Washington. As it has it, I’m here for the weekend and the weather is cooperating so I got a chance to get out and shoot this morning.
The Raleigh Flickr Group coincidentally started a new project today for Saturday Walk Abouts. So this is my contribution to the project.
I expected to get some buildings, macro shots, and some waterfront shots (which I got), but to my surprise, I ran into some beautiful glass artwork.
My hotel is near the “Museum District” and one museum is the Tacoma Glass museum. To get to the museum from my hotel requires crossing a freeway and a train yard. A bridge known as “The Glass Bridge” leads pedestrians from the Museum of Washington History and the Federal Court House to the Glass Museum and the Waterfront.
I wasn’t impressed too much. A lot of concrete and steel lay before me as I trekked out. Two large sculptures of what looks like Rock Candy but made out of glass stand as tower guards to the bridge entrance.
“So much for a glass bridge”. I expected it to have a glass floor or something. But to my surprise, one side of the bridge held a wall that was large bookcase like shelves holding colorful and very creative works of glass art. The other side was a somewhat solid but reflective surface.
Each box that held a piece of art was enclosed on either side by glass. The outside glass had seen some serious weathering and accumulation of road dirt and grime to a point of it just being mostly translucent rather than transparent. The rising sun provided a fantastic back lighting causing the colors of the glass to explode.
I was shooting in Aperture Preferred mode, so I adjusted the EV of the camera to +1.0 and +2.0 depending on the sculpture with the idea of blowing out the background to near white levels (hiding what bits of the train tracks you could see through the glass).
I did not expect to go out and shoot things that looked like they were shot in a studio or to shoot abstracts. But it just goes to show you what you can find when you go on a little walk about.download full movie Grimsby
You can visit the whole set of photos from the Glass Bridge here…
The travel system is complex. Flights, multiple carriers, millions of bags, rain, equipment problems and a lot of really frustrated customers. Add to that rental cars, hotels, destinations and the TSA and you have to be amazed that the system works at all and doesn’t come to a grinding halt.
Take today for instance. My lovely wife drops me off at RDU (If your in Raleigh or a frequent traveler you will know thats the airport code for the Raleigh-Durham International Airport) for my trip to BUF (thats Buffalo, NY!). The weather was nice. Looks like we were off to a good start.
But lets back up a couple of weeks when the whole thing started. I get notice that I will be traveling to BUF for a business trip. No surprise, I do this alot. So step one. Go to the company required travel service. I won’t mention names, but its a business version of a popular web based travel site. I’m more and more convinced that they don’t give me all available flights. So after trying to find a suitable set of flights (times, layovers, FF Miles for where the bulk of my miles pile up, what planes are being used . . . and thats important to know!, options for upgrades . . . being a frequent flier has its perks!) I end up with a reasonable Sunday flight with an around 11am departure getting in to Sunny Buffalo around 4:30pm.
Thats not to bad, 7 hours in the travel system to avoid a 12 hour drive. But my flight had a 3 hour layover in Washington National (thats DCA for short). The airline web site had plenty of other options that my super portal didn’t have that would have avoided the layover!
The company I’m training this week wanted me to stay at a particular hotel which was sold out. So after a call to them (remember we still are a few weeks ago!), they booked me at the next best choice distance wise (but not a hotel on any of my frequent stay accounts.) and I booked my rental car (keep that in mind for later!). Okay, all set with the reservations. Get my training materials shipped in time. Get packed. Sunday arrives and we get back to the beginning, I’m at RDU.
Its at this point that alert readers should be told — I DID NOT bring my camera on this trip (GASP!). Sorry, no pics.
I grab a quick bite for breakfast since meals in route become tricky or horrid (yes that $5 will get you a snack box). Security was fairly fast to clear and since I didn’t check bags, my “Two Hours” before your flight meant I had time. So I strolled to my gate and sat down to wait on boarding time. The counter worker for (I will name the airline!) US Airways announced the flight was oversold and was looking for flexible fliers.
The first thing that runs through your mind is “Oh bummer, another packed flight with no place to put your bags”. Normally on outbound trips, I won’t give up a seat because the schedule is too tight, but today I felt as if I could be flexible, so I volunteered my seat. On return flights, I’m quick to give up my seat since I’m not under any pressure. Coincidently, I’ve never been selected for that free fight voucher! Even today, being the first in line, there was a good chance I would still make my flight. Its amazing how people just don’t show up!
“Passenger Robert Miracle please come to the podium”. Damn! I won. I’m getting my bump and my free round trip ticket! Sure enough I got bumped and was being put on a later flight to DCA which would still let me catch my original connection and get into BUF as planned! Sweet!!!! So my delay would be in RDU instead of DCA, no big deal. I ask myself, why wasn’t this later flight an option from that blasted online travel service?
So I hop online since I have time to kill and would be a good chance to study the company I’m going to be training. I coincidently looked up my new flight to find out what kind of equipment I’m on (yup, a smaller regional jet, time to green/yellow tag the one bag since I know it won’t fit in the overheads (and I have a smaller bag at that!). Whats this? 40 minute delay? Leaving me 5 minutes to make my connection? Not good, I continued to do my research and checked back later. 50 minute delay, now I’m missing my connection. Well the podium worker at the new gate arrived and I asked him if the 50 minutes was real and he said “Yup!” and very politely told me he was trying to figure everything out and he would let me know.
A few minutes later the intercom squawks with the announcement…. “The flight is delayed until 5pm (it supposed to depart around 1:40, not 40 minutes or 50 minutes but 3+ hours!)”. A chorus of gasps was heard from the passengers waiting that flight. The intercom continued “I’m working on getting every one to alternate flights so you can make your connections. Please don’t ask questions as I’m working as quickly as I can to get you on the flights. I’ll call you up as I know something”.
Surprisingly everyone basically went “Okay, not big deal” and they went back to their books, laptops, naps or conversations. Of course I turned to my laptop to start looking up what the other flight options were. A fellow traveler was also heading to BUF so we started talking about the options. A female passenger wanted to see what her options were for getting to her destination. “Too bad, we won’t be able to get this flight thats boarding now” I said to the other gentleman heading to BUF. The intercom squawks again “Any passengers traveling to Buffalo with unchecked bags please come to the podium”. We both jumped up and made a bee line to the podium. “Gate A23 now (we were in A24)”. A23 was one of the flights that should have already been boarded and pushing back. We get there, and they are working on their last standbys when they handle putting us on the plane. “Here’s your new flight number and gate” the worker said. “We will fix your ticket in route. Your boarding pass with be at the new gate.”
Sweet! The new flight was getting us out of RDU ahead of schedule and was still going to get us into BUF just a few minutes afterwards. I wonder about the other 60 or so people who were still stuck in RDU hoping to catch a connection, but for me, I’m movin’ on.
Short flight to Philly instead of DCA with a most friendly flight attendant. A Joy to talk to. “What a flight attendant has time to talk?” Apparently the flight was too short to do drinks, so they only did them on request. I felt somewhat cheated out of my half a glass of Sprite, but it was okay, the FA’s conversation was worth it (and everyone who wanted a drink got one!). Now I should say that this FA did me a big favor. Being the next to last one on the new flight meant I didn’t have any overhead room left (and it wouldn’t fit anyway and they had already closed the cargo hold) and I had my two carry ons and only one would go under the seat. She found a hole to shove it in. I was pleased!
The landing in PHL was near perfect. You could hardly feel the landing instead of the normal big bump. Kudo’s to the pilots!
Short stroll from B2 to C24 and I’m ready for my outbound flight. Philly street pretzels in hand I get to the gate and my boarding pass was ready. My original seats for both flights was 3D, an aisle seat with overhead storage. I would be one of the first on the plane, I was all set. Through the chaos of all the flight changes, first the bump and second the re-route, they managed to keep me in rows 2 and 3 and I was in the larger Embraer 175 instead of the the 145 which has much more comfortable seats, bigger windows, and more importantly bigger overhead bins!
All in all, we were early into Buffalo, but I was about 40 minutes later than I had planned. Not bad given the reroute. I do want to say that today US Airways handled everything as best they could and managed the big delay at least for me in a favorable way. I fly United a lot and I can tell you this. The experience would have been far different. I would have been met with rudeness and arrogance. I would have gotten no “Love” from them. I think US Airways is far superior to United in the Customer Service area!
Touch down in BUF, make my way to pick up my bag (I gate checked it in Philly because it was still going to be too tight a fit any way) then to the rental car agency. Now I try to do most of my business rentals with National. They have always been good to me. I’m an Emerald Isle member so I can just run get the car and take care of my signout at the exit gate. So I bop over to deal with the person at the exit gate. She can’t find my reservation. (Again, a very nice person to deal with!). I pull out my itinerary printed from nameless online travel services. And low and behold there is no car rental listed. Now I know I reserved one. “No problem, we have plenty” she said as she took care of setting me up on the spot. Now I’m panicked a bit. Did I rent with someone else? Did I rent at all? Or did said online travel service drop it (they recently did some upgrades!).
Zipped from BUF to the Hotel with no problems. Got checked in, reasonably nice place (Adam’s Mark for the curious). I hop on line to figure out what happened to the car. Either it did get dropped or I didn’t rent it. Given that I didn’t do the hotel through the service I’m thinking its my fault since its always Flight, Hotel, Car and with me not doing the hotel part, I probably never went back to take care of the car.
But amazingly enough. With a Bump, a huge delay, resulting in a re-route, a forgotten car rental, I’m at my destination with minimal headache and hassle.
Thank you travel service workers for making this horrid travel day actually work out pretty much as planned. And thank you to all the travelers who now go “Okay, whatever, it will work out” for not making out travel service work’s lives miserable.
Somehow the system just works.
I love the Keys. In fact, I had the pleasure of living in Key West for 6 years in the ’90s. The Keys, for those who don’t know, are a long chain of islands extending out into the Atlantic south of Miami and Fort Myers in Florida. The chain of islands is connected by the “Overseas Highway” or US-1 which starts at the heart of downtown Key West and passes through the islands up the east coast to Ft. Kent, Maine.Пеликаны
“Islands” is really a misnomer for the Keys. In most cases, they are just dead coral reef growth with Mangrove trees making up the bulk of the “Island”. In many cases, a given island might just be a block of coral and mangrove with a cement road running down the middle. Of course there are tons of resources that describe the Keys.
This trip involves me traveling to Key Largo and Taveriner to train. One of the great things about the keys are the sunsets. Its almost a religion in the Keys. Every visitor has to take in sunset at least once. So one of my goals for this trip was to capture a sunset.
With a threat of rain all week (normal for the Keys) I was hoping to get a decent sunset. The problem would be finding a location to shoot from. I decided to eat dinner at the Islamorada Fish Company which is on Florida Bay aide of the keys. Great choice, they had a nice palm tree laden micro-beach with a couple of boat docks and tiki-torches to view sunset from.
With around 100 people milling around, getting a shot with just the landscape was going to be impossible. But as the sun headed for a mangrove island on the horizon, we were treated to a lovely sunset.
Right until the sun’s disc neared the horizon.
A build up of clouds at the horizon filtered the sun’s light to a point where it was a faint orange circle. Many people were disappointed at not seeing the final act but overall it was a wonderful experience.
Travel has become somewhat second nature to me recently. My “day-job” as a Product Trainer has me traveling to various cities across the United States fairly frequently.trevordiy.wordpress.com
As such I’ve gotten pretty comfortable moving through the US airline system, at least until May when many states will fail to meet the federal RealID system, of which North Carolina is one that may not comply, which could bring my travels to a screeching shot until I can get a passport. (Update, NC got their extension in. I’m good so far!)
“What you don’t have a passport?” My travel has been limited to the US and occasionally Canada and I’ve not needed to go to Canada since passports have been required.
I also pack my camera along with me. As you can from my web site, photography is a bit of a passion. I like to get shots from each city that I visit and share them with the internet community. Sometimes they will be arty, other times more traditional works.
So hopefully this blog will involve into antidotes from the road to go along with the photos and their discussions as well as give you plenty of ample opportunity to “discuss” the merits of traveling through the US travel system.