Monday, July 21, 2008

A breif message from our sponser

Well I'm trying to piece together the story of our second honeymoon at CMWC I should mention I was a web short for the show "Tougher in Alaska" as seen here. The piece itself is about winter biking but I'm pretty much the star. I'm a star, a bright shining star. In all seriousness there are tougher places to be a bike messenger but where else are your odds of catching a stray from a "gang related" shooting or getting stomped by a moose are about the same. BTW Good luck to you Mr. Bolger and company.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CMWC Getting there is half the fun? or Too much time in airports

We always start these things with the best intentions. My wife is simply not that much of a cyclist. I guess that's because she's nearly perfect in every other way. The plan she'll ride more starting out in the residential neighborhoods and bike paths working our way to the more urban parts of downtown Anchorage because if you can get the hang of those handful of blocks you can extend that to the tens of blocks in another city. We're not talking setting her up to win the alleycat or anything like that, just a nice commuter level of competence. Me, I plan to do some training of my own mostly involving twelve once lifts before the ride home and over-dressing so I'll be able to handle the heat. Both of us get distracted from our plans. Her mostly by work and weather. Me I do okay, on the twelve ounce lifts but the weather kicks the other part of my plan square in the nuts. It was one of the coldest spring/early summers that I can remember. Even over-dressed I was a little cold most of the time. I don't go to race but I do like to keep it as an option. That and I've got this folding bike and running that thing in a closed course race has the same appeal as the first few 10-12 inch snowfalls I rode, the wondering if it can be done.
Next comes the frenzy of packing and medicating for the flight. Time to go to the airport. I tried to keep notes but that soon fell by the wayside. I do have the following. "N is for negativity, null, nasty, nonsensical and if you're flying out of Anchorage it can stand for the North terminal also known as the ghetto terminal. It was originally intended to be the international terminal but it's been divided half international half domestic. It's old fashioned but not in a quaint way more like something yanked out of the seventies and crudely retrofitted for the present." Our flight has been delayed by an hour, no bigey because that will eat into our three hour layover in Seattle. As we wait in the bar I realize this is at least the third time we've had the same bartender, I tip her well when we leave because I see a pattern forming and I may need her goodwill again." The flight it's self was booked through Capt. Kirk then Continental but four of our five segments are actually on Northwest. Three down two up. This first segment is the one on Continental, a fine airline, I've done their first class before they had decent food but their "good" beers are Heineken and Foster's and because it's a late flight our meal is a "snack" Our flight boards finally . So I look forward to my first free drink. I can't recall if they have one Heineken or none, I think it was one before they ran out. The snack turned out to be a plate of cold cuts, cheese and fruit, not bad but not that great. The in-flight entertainment was some movie I didn't want to watch but they do have a nice Jazz chanel among the music options. We made it to Seattle alive. I go outside have a smoke, get some coffee and try to find something lunch like. It's somewhere between six and seven in the morning Seattle time so no luck. We move to the S terminal and see if our first class tickets get us lounge access, no dice, Northwest only gives you lounge access on international flights. We go to the bar, we're surprised it's open. There is a Burger King, it may have been serving lunch but I didn't feel like wading through the long ass line to find out. The bartender tells us that they're only serving breakfast food wise. Well fuck it. We order beers. She asks if we'd like to make them big beers for an extra dollar. We tell her. "Considering that it's seven thirty in the morning we feel pretty decadent just ordering regular beers. Fifteen seconds later she asks me if I'd like a shot to go with my beer for only three extra dollars. I'm thinking to myself. "Look lady I'm a borderline alcoholic but I still have to say 'C'mon it's seven thirty for Christ sakes' " I just say. "No, thank you." A small hassle with our tickets as we board the plane. At this point for food I have to rely on the breakfast served on our flight. Now most of the airlines were quite competitive about attracting your high-end business travelers and they've put quite a bit of effort into making the food in first class better. Once as a child back in the seventies my mother and I were going to visit relatives in Minnesota flying Northwest there was some problem with our flight and the nice gate attendants took pity on us and bumped us up to first class. It was a morning flight. Imagine my surprise when on this another first class flight some thirty plus years later, I was served the exact same cheese omelet with the same two shriveled sausages. There was no in-flight entertainment like all Northwest domestic flights. The one thing perhaps the only thing I really like about that airline is that they usually have this beer from a small Minnesota brewery, it's not a great beer but still it's a nice beer. They were out of that. At this point we dozed or read until we landed in Detroit. Our connecting flight gets delayed for the first time. I see some of the Japanese messengers. I want to go talk to them, say something about how much they deserve to host next years CMWC, I mean I bitch about what an expensive pain in the ass it is to go to these things but at least I can catch a break once and awhile to wit. Seattle CMWC 2003 and NACCC 2005 in Portland. Every year these cats make the trip and the closest to a convenient location they've gotten were Sydney and maybe Seattle. Unfortunately assuming we overcome the language barrier at some point in the conversation I'm going to have to say something like. "Hey it's been great hanging with you but we're about to piss-off to the worldperks lounge and suck down some free drinks and shitty snacks." Turns out we get lounge access at this stop, this saved us easily fifty bucks at the tequila themed bar. Some two hours later we board. I get the last Minnesota micro-brew after that I turn to my new back-up drink Jack & Coke because I liked it once. They were nice enough to give everyone the "Sorry we screwed up" coupon package. I do have to say the level of service from the cabin staff on all the segments was quite good.We arrive and customs was pleasant enough except for getting some nasty black oily shit on on my right hand later my face. We had made arrangements for a ride from the airport. We would have been shocked and stunned if he showed up. I later found an E-mail telling me our flight had been delayed far too long and we were welcome to swing by his place for a BBQ. If we'd gotten that then we would have gone. Thanks Jim, sorry we didn't meet up later but if you ever find yourself in Anchorage look us up. Anyway we check in partially unpack and start looking for food and drink. It's eleven P. M. the kitchens are closing. We try a few places the first being "Spirits" this would later become our neighborhood bar but not this night. We end up at place called "Burgundy" that claimed to be a sports bar. I had a cheeseburger, it was good, I figure it's best not to ask just what is AAA ground beef. A stop at a store for some snacks and sodas for the room and good night. All in all one of it was an annoying journey but it could have been much worse.