Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday, January 31

I was up pretty early so I decided to get a few miles in on the bike.  I just headed over to Fairfax and back.  The weather is gorgeous and it's going to be even better tomorrow on my Lifecycle training ride.  Can't wait!

This is the Marina in Sausailto with Belvedere Island in the background and Angel Island behind that:



Another view of the marina:


 
Belvedere Island:

 

Me:



When I got back over the bridge I noted sailboats massing in the bay  by Crissy Field:



The Warming Hut in Crissy Field:



I went throught the Presidio and came out the Lombard Gate and then took Greenwich to Laguna up, up, up the steep hill into Pacific Heights and then over to Market to 17th to Ord and home for lunch.  I hit 1,000 miles for the year today and am well ahead of schedule.  I'm pleased about that.

Bike Mileage:
Today                                               48.8
Week to date                                  157.2
Month to date                               1,004.7
Year to date                                  1,004.7
To Goal                                        8,995.3
Over (Under) plan                           155.4

YTD Mileage vs Last Year              390.4
Rolling Year                                11,130.1
Since Inception 10/1/07              14,282.4

Friday, January 30

Friday rolled around and my parents took me back to airport for my return flight on AirTran.  The line at security at the airport was shorter than I'd ever seen it in Orlando.  I mentioned it to one of the TSA agents and she said "sshhhh.... you'll jinx it".  I got on the tram and headed for terminal B.  I got a couple of shots on the way.  N931DL-- an MD88:



The Orlando tower:



I had a little time to walk around the terminal and I got a bunch of pics:



There were a bunch of international carriers at the Terminal:







Finally it was time to board.  I was on a 717 to Atlanta which was kind of a treat because I've only been on them a couple of times in Hawaii.  My ride:



Airtran 831 MCA-ATL Dep 3:55 Arr 5:22 717-200

Much fresher faced flight crew than on my way over.  The 717's seem to be much nicer on the inside than the newer 737's.  The seats were definitely thicker and, I think, a little more comfortable.  Seat fabric wasn't as cheap looking and the tray tables weren't as flimsy as on the Recaro seats on the 737's.  Passengers seemed about the same calliber-- a little trashy.  Note the sequined mouse eared headband the woman two rows up from me is wearing.  Also note that she was at least 70.  One of the female flight attendents borrowed it and was parading up and down the aisle in it before the flight was over.  I thought that was awesome.



View of the Virgin Atlantic 747 when we pushed back:



Cabin view in flight.  I really like the 717's.  I think it's a shame they stopped making them. 



View of Atlanta as we approached:



Close up of downtown:



Delta in line for takeoff: 





My plane to San Francisco left from the same gate I came in on (but  not the same aircraft).  I got some dinner and took a few pics:







Airtran 57 ATL_SFO Dep 6:45 Arr 9:10 737-700

We were on a 737 to San Francisco.  The flight attendents were really, really gay.  Even by my standards.  Bless their hearts.  Service was to a high standard.  There was a drink service and then it seemed that they were walking around with water and coffee every thirty minutes or so.  They were great. 

The passengers were the same motley collection that I'd come to expect on an airtran flight.  The guy sitting next me kept is ipod at an audible volume to me the entire flight which made it impossible to sleep.  I read the comic books I'd gotten in Kissimmee and tried to ignore it.  And it was bad taste in music.  Stacy Q??  What the fuck??  And he was totally rocking out to it.  Complete with hand movements.  I hope he was on drugs.  It would have been marginally less pathetic.  When we landed I advised him to invest in better headphones.

Mr. Poe came and collected me and took me home to my dogs who missed me very much.  Everybody needed a lot of kisses and then I went to bed.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, January 29

I got up and went for a bit of a longer ride today.  I attempted to go to the Nature Conservancy but it was closed so I headed to Southport on the south shore of Lake Tohopekaliga.  I need to look up that spelling every time.  Such a pretty lake:





I've never taken the airboat ride on the lake but I'll bet it's fun:



I headed into Kissimmee which has really seen quite a bit of development.  There's a little downtown area with shops and cafes.  I approve:



Check out this cool mural on the side of a hardware store:



I also liked the sign:



This is the view from the north shore of Lake Toho.  There's a really pretty lakefront park in Kissimmee:





This bird be chillin'



Me in Kissimmee:



This is a monument to the Bataan Death March which was a particularly horrible incident in WWII that you can read more about here.  I found the monument emotional and well done.  I like:



This building, the City Center Downtown, seems to be the source of all the bustling in Kissimmee.  They've built a mid rise mixed use building right in the middle of downtown and it seems to have revitalized the whole area.  I think it's a great idea and I hope it does well.  You can read more about it here.





The new development is right by the Kissimmee Amtrak station:



I saw this sculpture downtown.  I really want to like it but I just don't.  I don't find it aesthetically pleasing and I don't find it evocative.  At $8k I do find it overpriced.  No likey!







Then I went to the comic book store in Kissimme which is HUGE.  So much bigger than the ones in San Francisco.  They had a bunch of people playing war games on tables in the back of the store.  Sadly, they were cooler than me. 

This is the gorgeous Oceola County Courthouse which I love.  It's a rare surviving piece of old Florida:



Here's another survivor.  It's a late 19thc (I think) farmhouse which is now lawyer's offices:



I headed home and got cleaned up.  Fun day.

Bike Mileage:
Today                                               46.2
Week to date                                  108.3
Month to date                                 955.8
Year to date                                    955.8
To Goal                                        9,044.2
Over (Under) plan                           161.3

YTD Mileage vs Last Year              408.4
Rolling Year                                11,148.1
Since Inception 10/1/07              14,233.5

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I slept for fourteen hours Tuesday night which I really needed because I hadn't slept Monday at all.  I got up and had breakfast and then decided to go for a bike ride.  I left Solivita and took Marigold into Poinciana Parkway to Lake Hatchineha to Highway 27.  I stopped for snack.  Not the prettiest place I've ridden:
 


I continued on the Hwy 27 to Hinson.  I don't know what this building in Haines City used to be but it's a Baptist College now.  It must be tallest building for many miles in every direction.  Note the cool sign for the fried chicken restaurant in front of it:

 

I continued on Hinson to Hwy 17 to Johnson into Cypress Parkway.  This sign that I saw in front of a church is supposed to be a warning.  Why did I view it as an invitation??



I continued on Cypress Parkway and back to Solivita.  It's much prettier than the surrounding country:



When I got home my parents were at my Mom's softball practice so I got cleaned up and managed to get a shot of their Chihuahua Chica.  Here's Miss Chica at home in her drawing room:



We got Chinese for dinner and it wasn't bad.  There are actually Chinese people in central Florida.  Who knew??

Bike Mileage:
Today                                               35.1
Week to date                                    62.1
Month to date                                 909.6
Year to date                                    909.6
To Goal                                        9,090.4
Over (Under) plan                           142.5

YTD Mileage vs Last Year              401.2
Rolling Year                                11,140.9
Since Inception 10/1/07              14,187.3


Monday, January 26

It was time yet again to go visit my parents in Florida.  Mr. Poe wasn't coming with me, which made me very sad because nothing is much fun without him.  I decided to take a red eye because that would get me into Orlando in the morning instead of at night which would be easier on my parents.  Sadly, Southwest doesn't fly red eyes from the Bay Area.  I don't think they fly red eyes at all.  The legacy carriers were shockingly expensive so I decided to fly an airline I'd never flown before-- AirTran.  When I think of AirTran I think of their previous name, Valujet and a particularly horrific crash in the mid nineties which you can read more about here.  However, since tickets on AirTran were a couple hundred bucks cheaper than Delta and AirTran hadn't had an aircraft slam headfirst into the Florida swamp at nearly the speed of sound in at least a decade I figured what the hell.  The AirTran website is pretty easy to use.  They charge $6 each way for assigned seating.  I was reading something about how airlines are making pricing less transparent by charging extra for services like this.  You have to really pay attention with a la carte pricing if you want to compare fares among airlines.

I managed to get everything I needed into the backpack I use to commute for work which made everything a lot easier.  I had checked in online and already had my boarding passes.  AirTran offers $100 upgrades to first class for their longer flights and $50 upgrades for their shorter ones that you can book when you check in if they are available.  I almost took them up on the the upgrade from SFO to ATL but in the end concluded I was too cheap. Mr. Poe dropped me off at the airport after dinner at about 8:30.  Security lines were blissfully short and I was through them in no time.  AirTran is in Terminal 1.  I was in the security line behind these super cute boys in Virgin America uniforms.  Oh, when will they start flying to Orlando?? 

I walked around Terminal 1 and got a few pics.  This is Phillipine Airlines and Cathay Pacific 747's.  I had forgotten that Phillipine Airlines even flew to San Francisco.  Love their tails:
 


This piece is an collage of various materials bolted onto the wall.  It's from the 80's and I don't like it.  It's such a meh:



Nobody was at the gate counter when I first showed up and we didn't have an aircraft.  This didn't bother me because I knew that it was incoming because I'd checked before I left for the airport.  What I did notice was our fellow passengers.  I happily fly Southwest.  I think they're a great airline and that they make all the right moves.  I've never rolled my eyes in pity or disgust at my fellow passengers when flying on Southwest.  Not true of AirTran.  This was the surliest pack of trash I'd seen assembled since that day I rode my bike past the methadone clinic on Golden Gate Ave ten minutes before it opened.  Then the pilots showed up and I was waiting for one of them to start humming "dueling banjos".  I didn't see new flight attendants so I think the ones that had arrived from Atlanta were the same ones taking us back.  That seems like a really long day.  They looked it.  Certainly not the fresh faced Virgin America boys.  They looked like they'd be played by Joan Van Ark should their lives be made into Lifetime Original Movies.  The gate agent took the boarding pass I'd printed and kept it. This meant I had to remember my seat assignment.  I thought that was odd.

AirTran 38 SFO-ATL DEP 10:00 PM ARR 5:20 AM 737-700
 
AirTran's fleet consists of 737-700's and 717's.  As the 717's don't have to legs to fly to Atlanta, we get the 737's.  Here is a look at our rides:

 

The interior was new, but dirty.  The seat covers were slipping off of the seat cushions which I'd never seen on an airplane before and looked terrible.  The seats were designed by Recaro.  I know this because there was a logo on the plastic piece used to hold the tray tables up.  The seats although not uncomfortable were very thin.  The tray tables seemed flimsy and the fabric looked cheap.  The seat pitch was pretty tight but not tighter than other airlines I've been on.  The load was very light on our flight and I had a whole row to myself which must be quite rare in our age of 98% load factors.  Here is a the view of the cabin:

 

Right before we left one last passenger stumbled on who like he was taking fashion cues from Blake Fielder Civil.  I nodded off right after we took off.  I was woken by this guy arguing with the flight attendent about whether he had been promised free drinks by a mysterious third party in the airport bar and then by a second argument when she explained to him that it was company policy that she could only serve him one drink at a time.  Classy!  Her demeaner was polite and organized and I got the definite impression that this was not the first time she'd had this conversation with a passenger.  Today.  I tried to sleep as best I could but I can't really sleep well on airplanes.  Thankfully, Cracky McCrack passed out after his cocktail and wasn't heard from again throughout the flight.  Had the flight attendent crushed a valium into his cocktail to ensure that she didn't have to deal with ass til they landed??  I hope so.  It was a great idea.  They gave us a full can of soda for free and then walked around with water for the rest of the flight.  Take that, USAir, who charges for both of these things on domestic flights.  They also had free peanuts but no other food either for free or for sale.  First Class was similarly food free. 

I headed to the rear of the aircraft and noticed two things.  First, the rear on the AirTran 737's don't have any kind of galley at all.  It was a large, spacious hallway with nothing in it at all.  The only galley they have on the aircraft is at the front.  Second, they have the smallest restrooms I've ever seen on an aircraft.  I couldn't figure out why they were so tiny given that there was all that space back there but they were. 

We landed in dense fog in Atlanta.  I mean really dense.  We made it to the gate and walked out into the airport.  San Francisco Airport is bustling at 5AM.  Atlanta is not.  Not a lot was open and the whole scene was a little Dawn of the Dead for me.  I had a three and a half hour layover (regretting itinerary in 3-2-1) so I walked around.  There wasn't much to look at and it was pretty boring so I finally got some food and watched TV for a while.  Finally it was time to head over for my flight.  It was still really foggy.  Here are a bunch of AirTran 717's in a line.  You can also see how foggy it was:



AirTran 865 ATL-MCO DEP 8:40 AM ARR 10:02 AM 737-700

I only got about an hour or so total of sleep on the flight to Atlanta so I was a total zombie by the time I got on the flight to Orlando.  Luckily they didn't take my boarding pass this time.  The guy in the middle seat was already there when I got to my aisle.  He was a hefty man who had both the arm rests up.  No.  No.  A thousand times no.  I made it to window seat and promptly put the arm rest down so that he could keep his largesse to himself.  He needs to cough up the extra $6 and get himself an assigned seat the next time he flies.  We had the obligatory screaming baby in the aisle ahead of us.  The parents were alternately trying to reason with and scold the baby.  Does that ever work??  Here's the view of our cabin:



Atlanta might have been foggy, but the weather in Florida was gorgeous.  I got a shot of the Orlando area as we were coming in:



Orlando airport is a little boring because there's not as much variety as you see in San Francisco but the airport itself is well laid out and comfortable.  I got a few pics.  US Airways in the old livery.  It's N176UW, an Airbus A321:



Delta, Delta, Delta:



I got this cool view of this N931DL, an MD-88 from the tram taking us to the main terminal:



Orlando airport has a lake.  With an island in the middle.  Which is where I'm guessing all the lost luggage goes:





Orlando Airport also has a Hyatt attached.  Sadly for Hyatt this beautiuful atrium is now the line for security.  Ouch!



I thought all of the spider man stuff at this store was ugly and the statue looks more like he's bustin' a move than fighting crime.  And his crotch seemed creepily enhanced.  Yes, I checked out his junk.  Don't judge:



I had some time to kill because my parents were going to be a little late picking me up because my mom had a softball game.  One of their neighbors runs an airport shuttle service but they decided to come pick me up.  "Daddy doesn't want a strange man picking you up at the airport", my mom said.  I don't even know where to start with that.  We went home and hung out for the afternoon and then I went to the grocery store for them and then promply went to bed after dinner.  It was a really long day.