Monday, November 23, 2009

Quest for 50

Travel, travel, travel. Seems like I'm always on the run (cue the Kravitz). This month has been pretty epic for travel though. Epic in the sense that this weekend I was able to knock off my third of the 14 untraveled states left on the list on my quest to visit all 50 of the United States.

I started November with 14 unvisited states left on my quest for 50, that number including Hawaii and Alaska.  Earlier in the month I went to Tennessee and there aint no place I'd rather be (cue the Dead). Well, there are plenty of places I'd rather be but the bbq pulled pork sandwich I had at Golly Whoppers at least made me I was happy I was there at that point in time.  I just wanted to make the Dead reference.  A week later, I was headed to Minnesoooota, as the locals would pronounce it.  Didnt really get to see the full Mall of America but I did have a few good meals, one being a burger that was almost better than the one I had at Burger & Beer Joint recently.  This puppy had a burger patty with shredded lettuce, cheese, pulled pork, AND bacon on top of it!!  My sales rep and I ate at a couple of sports bars out in Minnesota and the food was surprisingly good as was the service, something you never really get here in Miami.

The last state knocked off in November was Biloxi, Mississippi.  This trip was pure pleasure though, no work involved.  Why Biloxi?  Good question.  As I may have stated a few times on this blog, I love to gamble.  The MGM group knows this because I have their players card and play often at their casinos when Im in Vegas.  Well, they decided to mail me a postcard offering a free flight, transportation, and hotel for 2 nights for me and a companion to check out their Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi.  At first I ignored it because it seemed like one of those "too good to be true" deals.  Then, they called me and left a voicemail about the promo and sent another postcard.  I called my cousin, who also loves gambling as much as I do, and asked him if he was down to go.  They had also been sending him postcards and calls about the deal so we decided we would each take one of our buddies and head to Biloxi for a dudes weekend.  I'm not going to go into detail but lets just say that it was a full weekend of over-the-top debauchery.  Extravagant meals, a lot of drinking, and a lot of gambling.  Oh, and I got shitfaced and fell asleep at a blackjack table for about 10 minutes which the casino staff all got a great laugh out of not only on that night but when they told me about it the next day as well.  I had no recollection of that.  Yay!

Biloxi was a great time with lots of hilarious memories.  The casino was actually really nice and probably the closest outside-of-Vegas casino that I've been to that actually resembled a Vegas casino.  The only buzzkill of the trip was that we didnt get to take a drive to New Orleans on Saturday, mainly because the rental car company had no vehicles but also because none of us were in any sort of position to drive, let alone sit in a car for 2 hours.  Louisiana is one of the 11 states I now have left to visit.  Wouldve been nice to knock that one off but oh well.  There's always next year...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Untitled in B

This one was posted over at my food blog, Blind Tastes, but I liked it and wanted to post it here since this site gets far more action from readers...

She was an elusive one, always busy when I spontaneously popped into the neighborhood.  A real Miss Popular type and although I had grown tired of competing for her attention on previous attempts to meet her, I was willing to give it one last shot.  Besides, my friends thought she was sexy as hell.

I planned to meet her at the bar.  A friend of hers told me that the game would be on there so it was a perfect scenario for me.  I watched as she moved around the bar, each patron sizing her up and dreaming about their favorite ways to dress her.  She is hot after all.  Most people get caught up in her her appearance and dress but not me.  I like her with as little makeup as possible with plenty of exposed flesh and minimal accessories, though sometimes I like when she gets all dolled up in something sexy.  I motioned to the bartender who sidled up and asked how he could assist me.  Some intimate quality time with her was all I needed.  It had been a long day and I was drained.  She would help me find my inner peace again.

I sipped a bottle of suds to take the edge off while I waited for my chance to romance her.  When one didn't cut it I popped a second while peeking at the game on TV, still waiting, growing more hungry to be with her.  It was then that I saw her floating gracefully across the bar.  She was advancing towards me, her chest slightly exposed to give everyone a view at what they would be missing while she was with me.  To top it off, she was wearing one of those sexy signature outfits - a silky scarf of American cheese covered the prime angus flesh left exposed by her open sesame top, bacon dangling across her chest, with a bourbon bbq sauce by her side.  I had heard that she called this outfit, "Thunder Road", and it was apparent that she came to bring the thunder.

With her now in front of me, I wasted no time on foreplay and chose to ignore her skinny fries.  Instead, we just went at it.  Right there.  At the bar.  In front of everybody.  She squealed with pleasure as I devoured her, each bite into her flesh releasing her seasoned juices, sending them dripping down my chin.  Her bacon was a perfect balance of crisp and chew, making me lust for her even more while the bourbon bbq sauce kept things sensually sweet.  At one point she submitted herself to a sprinkling of Tabasco, letting me know she was there to please.  And damn did she wear it well.  She shuddered as I finished her off, leaving nothing but a trail of bbq sauce dripping over her exhausted skinny fries.

Our passionate affair ended almost as quickly as it had began.  A wink of a last bite of her sesame buns and she was gone.  I tossed the bartender a fifty and told him to keep the change.  She had been worth waiting for.  I grabbed my beer, took a final swig, and then headed for the door.  I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to see her again, or if she'll even be available, but I know that there will be a "next time"...

Many, many more.

The Thunder Road burger can found at:
Burger & Beer Joint
1766 Bay Rd
Miami Beach, FL 33139-1414
(305) 672-3287

Monday, November 16, 2009

New American Airlines Terminal at MIA

As the shuttle pulled up to the terminal, I thought the shuttle driver had chosen to drop us off on the baggage claim level. It just didnt look right - no cars jammed into the curb dropping/picking up passengers, no employees crossing the streets to get to the employee bus, no typical mess that is Terminal C/D at MIA. After looking around and confirming we were indeed on the departure level, I realized that this was the long-awaited Terminal A/B open for business.

American Airlines now has its own area all to itself and its huge. Check-in counters as far as the eye can see. Of course, everything still manages to be a total clusterfuck with First Class being all the way at the end of the hall and multiple departure terminals and security checkpoints. I checked in at the First Class counter and was told my gate would be E2. Great... That meant I had to hoof it all the way to the farthest departure terminal from where I was at. The woman behind the counter told me to use the Terminal E security line in case the others were full. The C/D line was pretty short, so I went to pass there but I was stopped by the typical rude MIA employee who told me to use the D/E line because it would be "faster". Yeah, OK. Terminal E is the International Terminal and its usually mobbed this early in the morning. Lucky for me it wasn't too bad and I made it thru in about 15 minutes.

It was nice to see a Starbucks up and running in the new concourse check-in area. Another one looked to just have been finished and setup right outside the old Terminal D check-in area that now sits empty. Now if they could only get some Starbucks on the OTHER side of security. I was flying out of Terminal E and the breakfast options were Pizza Hut or some Cuban pastries. I'd rather starve than eat that crap. Not that Starbucks is that much better for breakfast but at least they make a decent chai tea.

Another nice new feature at the American Airlines counter was labeling bags as "Priority" for those of us who hold status with American. Waiting for bags at MIA takes FOREVER, so hopefully this miraculously speeds up the process of retrieving bags upon landing. I'm waiting to see what happens when I land in Minnesota, today's travel destination, to see if the labels have any effect on bag retrieval there.

That is if the bags make it there, of course...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear City of Miami

Thanks for closing 95S when over 1000 cars are trying to get home at 11pm. FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Day, Another Flight, Another Lost Bag

Something didn't feel right when I began the check-in process at the Delta self-service counter today at MIA. You see, I usually fly American Airlines because they have a hub at MIA with direct flights to just about every city I need to fly to. I hate layovers. Not only are they a waste of time but they provide another chance for the airline to let the traveler down.

Another reason I fly American Airlines whenever I can has to due with my frequent flyer status. I've hit Platinum 2 years in a row now and may even hit Executive Platinum this year (I'd easily nail EP status if I didnt fly direct everywhere as flights with layovers get you more miles for your sacrifice in time). With that status comes a waiver of baggage fees, aka "the biggest consumer ripoff in the past 5 years". Even though my company picks up this baggage fee, it pisses me off that such a thing even exists. Let's see, the airlines were losing a boatload of money and claimed rising oil prices had a lot to do with it and figured that baggage gave the aircraft a lesser mpg, knew people need clothes when they travel, and decided to offset their costs by charging for baggage. That may not be exactly how it went down but I'm sure its pretty effin close. Well, oil prices have come way down yet we still get raped with baggage fees. Thank you, Sir! May I have another?!?!

So there I stood, looking at the kiosk and wondering if it would be possible to check my bag of clothing and carry on both my briefcase and my bag of product samples. In the past 2 months, my luggage had been lost twice which resulted in me walking into a meeting with a customer with plenty to tell but nothing to show. In other words, it was a waste of a meeting and I looked like an asshole. This would save my company $25 and ensure that I had my samples just in case my luggage was lost. Physically, I knew I could. Morally, I struggled with the decision. I can't stand the assholes who place their own well being above others on airplanes. The people who cram 2-3 bags into the overhead are said assholes. I didn't want to be that guy, the very guy I despise. So, even though I had reservations about checking the bag of samples, I gave into my morals and did it anyways.

I was on 4 hours of sleep, having gone to bed around 1am and gotten up at 5am to be at the airport by 6am for a 730am flight. I was hoping to sleep on the flight from Miami to Atlanta but a screaming baby prevented that from happening. The flight from Atlanta to Chattanooga was delayed but I wasn't surprised since delayed flights and ATL airport are kinda one in the same. Luckily, my appointment wasnt until 130p so I still would have time to grab my bags and a bite to eat with my sales rep before heading to see my customer. Or so I thought...

The airport in Chattanooga is tiny so the baggage carousel started less than 10 minutes after we landed. Now we pray. I was relieved when I saw my bag of clothing come out. Just one more bag and I'd be on my way...

That bag never came.

The carousel stopped and I was pissed. I'd just paid $50 to have Delta lose my bag and there was nothing I could do about it. Nope, can't get upset because that isn't going to do anything. All I could do was suppress my rage and meander over to the baggage office to report the problem.

Apparently taking 2 bags off of a plane in Atlanta and putting them on another is a difficult feat because, according to the Delta employee at the baggage counter, this happens almost daily. I took my claim number and hoped the bag would be on the next flight which was due to land at 120p, 10 minutes before my meeting...great. I ended up being an hour late and thus had to rush. I don't know about Delta Airlines but my time is very valuable to me, especially when it comes to doing my job. My brain was working overtime trying to not be pissed about being charged for bags only to have them lost. I decided I would resort to writing another letter to the airline which would most likely result in me being placated with a $100 voucher for use on a future flight. Yay...

So what can be done about being forced to pay for baggage on flights? As I see it, you can add $50-$100 to whatever "discount" airfare you are able to find on a flight so it really isn't a good fare. It's absurd how 9/11 security (fear) initiatives and the price of oil are holding the American consumer hostage when it comes to leisure or business travel. There has got to be a solution. In fact, I know there is a solution but the airlines are just too f**king selfish to take the necessary steps to making that solution a reality. But that's a whole separate discussion for another time. Until then, I guess we just have to grin and bear it while the airlines take advantage of us.