Friday, November 26, 2010

Culture: Coffee Breaks, Cricket, "Set Top Boxes" & a new PR

Life is Great Down Under!

   One profound experience that I have had while living in Perth is the frequent coffee breaks. Yes, COFFEE breaks! Not your standard, dark roast with some hazelnut but some of the tastiest lattes and mocha’s that you have ever had in your life! It’s a rare occasion that you would finish a morning jog without someone saying, “let’s grab a latte or flat white" before preparing for your day. This is my style, my friends back home know what I am talking about as well, when I was unemployed and taking a different path a year ago I often visited the local coffee shops in Dilworth to just relax, soak up the atmosphere and research my new life that I was thinking of beginning.

   I remember about 5 years ago when I on occasion made a Saturday morning run with the likes of Cathy Grable, Lori Hagemen, Sheila Wakeman, Aprille Schaffer, Julie Hardin and Kathy Abernathy, they really only met in the morning to have an excuse to have a 1hr coffee break on a weekend morning. I tried to soak it up, but I just didn’t have much girl talk for them, and most of the time they wanted to hook me up with someone, so I eventually faded away from the gossip scene(sorry ladies, you know I LOVE all of you!).  So coffee here is not percolated or drip, it is all blended with some form of milk in a latte form, it’s so good that I never even add sugar or splenda to my warm milky, caffeinated heaven. Back to the casual environment of the coffee world here, the local cafĂ©/coffee shops are EVERYWHERE. Literally next to each other in the competing market which is seemingly unheard of in the US. They do have some chains of coffee shops but there are tons of independent chains which I absolutely love and support! The people are like family there, they greet you and ask you how your day is and remember you the next time you come in and recommend certain picks of their own.

   The shops are pretty much half full of people throughout the entire day around here through the weekday until everything closes and then moves to other outskirts of the town. Here is a dialogue of the culture here from many angles interpreted by Christopher Lamperski: “ ohhh mate I had a tough night last night, lets grab a coffee” “sure”;   “Work is pretty slow, let’s grab a latte down the corner shop” “sounds good let’s go”;  “ It’s 1:30pm on Tuesday and 100 degrees outside, let’s grab a mocha?” “Perfect, freakin oath!”  I have yet to hear anyone deny a coffee break at any point in their day, people really love to take breaks and to just discuss anything or nothing, and it’s AWESOME! There is a small coffee shop that used to be a horse stable tucked down an ally way in west perth that I have visited twice now and I love it. There is always one man serving coffee up in this small place, but its done up very well, but thats not the kicker! 
  The man most likely in his 50's is always playing JAY-Z, so I know this is one of MY spots for sure, makes me want to open up a replica back home!I wished back home people would take some time to literally sit and enjoy a coffee with a good friend as opposed to working to get ahead of the Joneses new LCD TV , it puts life into perspective. This may be the reason that I haven’t met one person yet who seems slightly depressed or upset about work, their family or their financial woes, because well, they appear to have their priorities most lined up.

   So there has been this huge build up about the “Ashes” match that has now begun down under for weeks. I was waiting for it to finally come to see what all this talk is about and here it is. Australia vs. England, in get this, five-----pause----wait--- 5 day matches, is this not the longest game in history? Well the before they even set foot on the turf, I figured I had better watch some cricket on TV! We did pick up an inflatable kangaroo that says “Go Aussie” in support but really, I am ready for the Basketball season to come through because its more my speed. One of my goals however is to catch a “20/20” match live, which is a faster paced cricket game that is complete in merely a few hours. Also on the agenda is to watch an AFL game in which my friend Nathan Doig is actually an official BIG TIME official.

   Next on the plate, set top boxes! I come from a culture of pop frenzy where nearly everyone has high speed internet, cable, DVR, flat screens and surround sound, which of course all of them I had in North Carolina. I had an EXTRA subwoofer connected to my surround sound to make the movie experience extra intense even. As I sit on the couch to watch TV in Perth, I am looking at a tube TV that has a broken set of rabbit ears on top with a fuzzy signal on nearly every station. We fortunately get one clear station so far called “ten” which is similar to our fox network back home and it has a few shows we watch on it. It’s actually refreshing not having the world of 1000 channels at my finger tips as well as DVR to record anything I can dream of. Most of the people locally appear to have something called a set top box, which boost up to around 15-20 stations at most from what I gather, many of which are cultural channels that may not even use the English language, so let’s say for the sake of argument, 10 channels.  Today Janna and I are setting out on an adventure to possibly purchase a set top box to provide us with a few extra stations with clear picture and sound. The kicker is that once you pay the $70 for the box, all of the stations are free, so it’s really a deal. Back home I was paying about $135 a month for basic stuff mostly but it included DVR and HD stations. While hunting for a cheap set top box, I am going to purchase some blank CD’s to burn some music on for our car rides and for the chance to play at home. My life is a soundtrack, I am always pumping music in some fashion depending on my mood it could be gangsta rap, country, easy listening, jazz or classical, so I need to have access to pumping my music up!

    All in all, I love the culture here and I can see how my good friend Cody loved it so much as well. People are very happy with their possessions and most don’t appear to be in this rat race that America feeds off of. Instead of having a brand new Lexus, people will drive a Ford and save money for the coffee shop or their vacation to the coast of some other country. I hope that I can take this attitude back home, to really soak up life and make the most of everything without putting material possessions as #1 in my life. Before I head back to settle into the “real world” once again, I have several plans to travel as much as I can. Here is a list of places that I would love to hit on my journey back home, so if you have any tips, recommendations, connections for housing, or of course want to meet me and pay for my way I would appreciate it, so that I may truly soak up my journey and place in life.

New Zealand

Where are we going  next? Who is taking a step and meeting me?

If only money grew on trees!!!!


Just before posting this blog, I was convinced to put my hand in the fire at a 3000m track race locally at Challenge Stadium. I ended up in 6th place even though I was seeded 13th on an estimated time of 9:05. After testing my speed, I know that I have a bit more in the tank for sure and in a few weeks I will be able to drop my time down substantially. 1k splits: 3:04, 3:06, 2:59

5k in 2 weeks! Goal to run sub 15:27

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shaving: Time and my face(update at the bottom)

   Leaving America for Australia, I had 2 main goals, one primary and one secondary, both of which were hard to describe at my age. My primary goal in leaving the country was to experience life outside of my little box and to soak up as much culture as possible. The secondary goal in my adventure was to train more effective than I did before with out any distractions that I may have had back home, just to reach my abilities. Over the last 2 weeks of my prep for leaving, many people asked me particular reasons for traveling, "are you going for work?", NO, " are you going to become a professional athlete?", YES! well no not really, that is in the back of all of our dreams whom are competitive by nature, but the simple fact is NO.

To shave or not to?
  Moving away to experience life by job hoping or sleeping on couches, is something that a normal teenager or college kid would do, but here I am nearly 30 years old chasing some kind of a dream. I left some amazing people back home and some good connections with employment to pursue whatever this is. Like anyone who attempts to be rebellious or adventurous, I chose to not shave or cut my hair for the remainder of my stay. As of right now, my semi beard is growing by the day and nagging me even more. I have always had dreams of a full thick beard, to be a manly man, but plain and simple, its really hard to grow a legitimate blond beard! Plus it becomes itchy and tough to sleep with especially now that it has topped 100 degrees (or 38 degrees for the aussies). So at this point in time, its a big decision, whether to trim my facial hair because its nagging me or the realization that I may not be able to get a fairly decent part time job because I look like a bum. What to do what to do?

  As far as shaving time, well that always is the goal isn't it? I mean  do we every feel like we have tapped completely for all of our ability? I know I haven't, I would consider myself lazy in a bit, i have opted for the social scene over the grueling training sessions that have separated the men from the boys so to speak. Maybe its time I buckled down and became one of these men who make that BIG jump? Yesterday and today i was fortunate enough to converse with Ryan Gregson whom is only 20 years old and is already the Australian National Record holder in the 1500m run with a 3:31:06. He was very carefree and easy going, he even knew Nelly was a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, most people in Charlotte don't even know that! But at his invitational breakfast he spoke about his training and surrounding himself with people to give him confidence and build him up throughout his young career. Now I have found a place where I can train with some very solid runners/triathletes who push each other to the next level. Recently while cycling around town with a couple mates, on different occasions I saw a couple of riders who rode in the Tour De France, back in town just doing some training rides. The talent here is deep and I think can be tapped even more than it already has been.

Random Shot of a training session at sunset
   Surrounding myself with these people will make me better for sure, but to what extent, i have no clue. I have always heard I had a great natural ability but what does that mean, and how far can that take me? So far I have done a couple running, cycling and swimming workouts, and so far I have been virtually blown out almost every time. So when do I start shaving this time? Will it come when i shave my face and my head? When I was a collegiate runner at lil Pfeiffer University, I remember having long locks that i had braided up into corn rows and then shocking everyone by having it all shaved off before the end of the season. Well it seemed to really help as I won my one my 1st college race and then I even pushed deeper at the conference meet the following week with a 7th place performance by 15 seconds from a 3rd! Hmm maybe I should shave my legs as well, it seems to work for the triathletes right?

  So all in all, shaving time and shaving my face, true questions in life that we all must face. Will I shave my face? How much time can i shave off of my 5k, 3k, 10k, marathon, half ironman time? Pun intended, Time will tell. As far as my journey here it has been very interesting, now facing the fact that I NEED to be employed in order to rent out my own place or move in somewhere that has a bedroom so I can give my friends some additional privacy. Life will take me where I need to be, it has thus far and the path hasn't been too bumpy. An exciting update is that next week I will be working three 8 hour days at a local cafe washing tables, dishes and pans! Crazy how back home I would have NEVER considered something like this and now I am happy to just be apart of something to earn some $. Apparently some of the certifications I hold in the states do not directly convert over here and in order to be a personal trainer I may have to pay nearly $3k for some courses, if this is ultimately the case, I will have to find a new temporary profession.
Check out my bottle cage, the only way to recover!

  Calling everyone who may read this post, I urge you to yell as loud as you can at me to motivate me to pushing myself and shaving time, to tap my potential. If you hear about me sleeping in or passing on a run, I give you permission to call me a lil girl or whatever term you would like to choose to light the fire under me.

  In other news, Saturday night I am heading to the Perth Velodrome, to watch some serious racing, this will be my first time watching an indoor cycling race so it will be interesting.

In short, isn't everything about shaving? Shaving just a few more pounds off, shaving just a few years off of my retirement off by saving money, shaving certain people out of your life to move on to the next step, shaving a bit from that entertainment fund to buy that house, and finally shaving your face to look "professional".

Stay Tuned for more updates! PS: I decided to skip my 1st race down under, a triathlon in Bunburry simply because I know I am not in shape to compete at the level I would like to race at. No need in forking out a bunch of $ since I haven't been working and barely any fitness to back me!

So I buckled after looking at the hideous growth of fur on my face, I trimmed my beard! I now resemble Craig David but with slightly lighter skin even with a bit of tan. 
Yes, that just happened! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Western Australia: A place to grow as an athlete

    Recently some of you may have seen where I have been posting about "Club Helena Valley" on facebook or perhaps on my athleticore account. Basically, through The Running Centre in Perth, I have been able to connect with some of the best local and national athletes around. Thankfully my old friend Cody Angell is a sales and marketing manager at the shop and he has introduced me to several amazing people who have been more than supportive in my journey Down Under. So many thank you's to Cody and Janna Angell for hosting me and to several of my new mates at the Running Center for being so kind and forgiving to me for my general ignorance.

  One cool thing that will get my networked into the active members of the city is being attached to the running center's blog center ( ) check out the last name on the page, the tourist! Hopefully some people will be able to see my view points from my experiences here and how they relate to my experiences back home. Onward to the insane athletes that I have been able to jam with a bit on some training sessions of late.

   G$, a common term I used back home has been used once again with the introduction of Gerry Hill. I have been fortunate enough to run with Gerry several times and 1st hand watch his toughness while racing a 10k on the track after hitting the 1st mile in 4:53! Gerry has been training for a year solid and he managed to knock out a 2:37 at the Perth Marathon for 2nd place overall, I pretty legit time. I believe that Gerry and I are at similar levels of fitness for the 15k distance and below, so it will mean that we will be pushing each other to the limit. My goal is to see where I can take my level of triathlon while also pursuing some major PR's on the track this summer. As of right now, Nathan Doig, Cody, G$ and myself appear to be on similar playing fields with fitness so the goal is to work together perhaps for an upcoming 5k to see if we can chip away at our personal records.

Neil Berry, our Prefontaine impersonator
   Right now, my 5k PR is 15:27, G$'s is 15:28, Cody's is 15:31 and Nathan recently ran 8:42 for the 3k, so if all goes according to plan we should be able to push each other. I need to trim down a bit of weight to blend in with the gents here and become more efficient to reach my goals. Just a couple of days ago I was running with a young buck named Neil Berry aka berrylicious on a 15k tempo run from the shop and I was digging a bit deeper than normal to stay on his heels and I felt confident with my effort. 2 days later Neil belts a 14:47 5000m for a massive PR!

If I continue training with these guys, I have 2 options:

  1. Continue improving and take my racing to another level
  2. run myself into the ground and get injured
   Let's hope that with the assistance of these amazing athletes I will reach the 1st option. Aside from my track goals, I have also been fortunate to train with Ryan Baugh as he has been dragging me out to the local pool for some sessions. I realized I am very rusty in the water and that Ryan seems to be an underrated triathlete because he is fairly new to the sport and is very modest. It's INSANE to think that Ryan just began triathlon last year and knocked out a 4:20 half ironman! With some additional training this year he is aiming to trim nearly 10 minutes off of his time, so I plan to continue training with him so that I can Knock out a huge PR for myself at Busselton.

   I will continue updating my progress as a continue to pursue some pipeline dreams while down under. The next goal is to friend a paycheck as I have been trying to make contacts so that I can eventually move out into a new flat and off the pull out sofa! The goal continues to remain vehicle free the entire journey, I will either run, walk or cycle to my destination!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busselton 2011: 1st step in a Conquest

Update:  Just received an email about getting an official international entry into the Busselton 70.3 Ironman in May 2011!!! 

Now that I have an official goal to look forward to, the training will begin commencing!

   My conclusion for this new training cycle will be that it will be much easier to produce a fast time over a 5 month training cycle as opposed to the 5 week cycle I used in my 1st attempt at the 70.3 distance. 

Initial Goals to focus on:

  1. Ride more 
  2. Find the perfect aggressive position that will allow me to run off of the bike
  3. Ride more
  4. Train for a half marathon race (as opposed to simply relying on some running base as I did before)
  5. Ride more
  6. Swim long course and build my endurance
Hopefully by focusing on these goals I will be able to drop my 70.3 time substantially unless something unfortunate happens along the way.

Since some local Western Australian Triathletes set the bar high, I have some goals to shoot for next year. Nuttman I am coming for your time Mate!

   After a couple more weeks of settling "Down Under" I plan to jump into some sort of a race, most likely a 3k on the track, my 1st since 2004 at Davidson College. I have not been working on my speed but I have high hopes that I can tuck behind a couple guys and grit my teeth to break my old & weak PR of 9:17. 

Special shout out to Cody and Janna Angell for being amazingly hospitable since my arrival down under. So far everyone I have met in Perth has been amazing, more updates to come!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Diving into the Australian Culture (or observing it)

   After arriving in Australia this past Thursday evening, I felt like I fell off of a cliff, landed on some rail road tracks and then was quickly smashed by a freight train. In short, the trip truly took every bit of zest out of my system. Frankly I am still surprised that the people I ate dinner with that night thought I was anything other than a prick because I was short and brief with conversation. Luckily, Friday morning I was able to muster up enough of "me" to meet some of the running group for "brekky" and a latte at Bruce's cafe' next to the running centre. As the days have passed, I have began to feel more and more like myself thankfully.
Ryan, Rosie, and Janna Friday AM

  Fighting sickness just before leaving the states did not help my transition down under, as I have been coughing up green stuff for nearly two weeks and I am honestly surprised that I have not progressed with my sickness. I have been feeling like I really need a solid anti-biotic to knock everything out and I was chatting with Janna about the local pharmacy's during her off day on Monday. In Australia, the drugstore's are called "chemist", it sounds a bit sketchy to me, but its a legit place for vitamins and medicine. Initially I am thinking of some odd ball drug dealer who has a little shack in the back alley and people call him "the chemist".  Janna seems to be about tired of my coughing up a lung and spitting globs of mucus out on the pavement at this point, so I am trying to rest up and take a solid dose of "Ultra preventative" pills I brought from the Greenapple Sports & Wellness Center.

Marcus and Alba Barton Look alike's
Cody pre-race
  Friday was a struggle for me mostly, I tried napping and also tried running, which both were very ineffective. Trying to nap when the sun light is out, really through me off and then running with my weak and broken down body proved to be a bad decision on my part. Once the late afternoon arrived, Janna and I met Cody and Neil aka Berrylicious at The Running Centre and promptly drove to one of the local tracks where the WA marathon club hosted a 10,000m race. Cody was registered and hoped I could pace him through the 5k in just over 16 minutes while obviously my body had different plans so I was relegated to calling splits and taking pictures. Gerry aka G-money was also racing the 10k, his first on the track so I was cheering him on and updating each as to their positions in the race. Roberto Bussi, the local road racer was looking to hit the sub 30:30 mark in order to qualify for the Emil Zatopek 10,000m on the track later this season, so we knew it would be a fast race.
Sydney Olympic games High jump pit
It was exciting watching a track race again, I was half out of it but it still was pretty cool. I missed some of Cody's splits for him and mostly took crappy photo's but I tried none the less< G-money went balls to the walls from the start with the leaders and hit 4:53 at the mile and still managed a 4th place finish and sub 33 10k. Cody ran a very even race, basically leading some guy for 22 laps around the track whom was wearing an ipod and then eventually sped off over the last 1/4m to put a nice gap on him. 32:46 was Cody's official time, good enough to win a toolbox at the end of the night. I was ready to leave as the weather was actually pretty cold and not what I anticipated. 
10k Start
Cody & Gerry battling

 All in all everyone did very well and then we had the after party at "Macca's" aka McDonald's, yes I said it. 8 of us made our way to McDonald's were I ordered a double big mac and Cody picked out a milkshake. I was able to experience the locals to a whole new level while eating with my new friends. Some younger people ran into the building, making all kinds of noise, obviously very intoxicated. this is when I realized that the drinking age is 18 here and I was notified that many of the teens had some serious drinking issues, from what I could see was evident.
Oh man I really want a cheeseburger, it has been so long!

On Saturday morning we met up at the running centre just before I would embark on my 1st driving experience "down under".  I had to take my bike across town to Matt Illingsworth in order to have it pieced together so that I can start training.

 Here I am just before starting the Hyundai Accent, driving on the left hand side of the road, and shifting gears with my left hand. It was weird to say the least and the funniest thing of all I thought of was, can anyone just get a car and drive? I mean I don't have an international permit or insurance, oh well, keep it on the hush

Janna showed me how to get to a small town called SobiacoWTF
Tastings burger in Sobiaco

After we left the cafe', we found our way to the market, and this my 1st experience in a farmers market in all my years actually. Wow was it insane, people everywhere and fresh fruit everywhere! The prices were much cheaper than they would be at the supermarket so Janna and I picked up a few things amongst the chaos.

 We made our way to our final destination, "woolworths" which is a grocery in Perth that Janna prefers. It was basically like any traditional shop back home with a few exceptions of course. I noticed they had a section labeled "cordials", what the hell is that? I look closer and it looks like dish soap or something, so I had to snap a picture naturally. Ok, so I find out its basically like a concentrated drink mix that you blend w/water. It's actually pretty tasty and similar to any fruit drink back home.

 Gerry and his family kindly invited all of us over to their home for a dinner feast of sorts. We had some kind of excellent fish accompanied with vegetables, potato's, some cheese and a good portion of bread. I wanted to check out this whole Vegemite thing, so Gerry hooked me up with a bit on my bread. Boom! It was actually good, not sure I anticipated that but it was. He said that I could not lather the bread with it as I naturally would have but just spread it very lightly. THANKS AGAIN to the Hill family for hosting us, the food was amazing and healthy to boot! 

Vegemite! Not too bad, try it out sometime! The enormous bowl of fruit and vanilla ice cream to follow was the real treat. Freshly cut fruit is always good and when its topped with ice cream, its heaven. I may ask the Hill family to adopt me simply because they have a pool, make a feast at dinner time and have cable tele!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Perth, Western Australia....My new homeland with lots of Pictures along the way

View of the mountain range somewhere near Arizona
Some peaks from 30k in the air
  This entry will be a recap of my journey across the pond of sorts, while providing some new pictures and updates of my status in Australia. The 2.5 days of total travel really really took its toll on me the 1st couple of days Down Under. It hits your body so hard that its difficult to really enjoy those first few exciting days, especially for me because I only slept about 2-3 hrs over the 46 hr journey from Charlotte, NC to settle in WA.  I snapped a few pretty cool pictures of some mountain ranges from my 1st flight across the country, no significance but I like mountain ranges and I hope you do as well!

What's wrong with this picture?
 An additional note to the picture above, after settling into my window seat from the QC to LA, I kicked something with my right foot and looked down. This is what I saw, that's always a good sign on an airplane right? You pieces falling apart at my feet haha

   To the left are my new Skull Crusher headphones that really helped my trip go by a bit smoother.  I debated on ordering the official "snoop dogg" version but when I found the exact model without the Dogg father's signature on them for a cheaper price I had to go that route. These headphones nearly drown out all outside noise while providing an amplified mini sub woofer to pump out those bass busting beats that I prefer at times.

 Here is a nice shot of what I did for about 11hrs in LA while at the airport. I got into that cool swanky, "Air New Zealand VIP Lounge" and felt like a rock star for a couple hours as there were only about 10 people hanging out w/me. As the night progressed I was accompanied with about 130 other people, so i didn't feel so cool anymore but I did manage to have about 4 sandwiches, lasagna, 2 jack and cokes and 4 beers while kicking back.

 After arriving in LA, i was stuck in no man's land because the air New Zealand section was still closed due the huge time gap in the time zones. I just laid on top of my bag until people finally came out and everyone rushed to the line. This was the 1st and only place I had to surrender $50 for checking my carry on bag which was too large for the overhead bin. Due to an error, I was able to ship a 47lb bag and my tri bike across the world for FREE!!!

   After waiting for eternity, we were called from the VIP lounge and escorted down to our flight by the concierge. We were able to straight shot to the front of the line and take our seats, which was pretty cool. Since this was the longest flight that I had ever taken, i had hoped this would be a "baller" plane with all the bells and whistles.  Since I was able to get an aisle seat I was stoked because I knew I could hop up and down as much as I wanted to stretch out the legs. The Air New Zealand 767 was very nice and satisfying to me as it was a brand new plane with our own personal TV's and a fair amount of room. I was VERY FORTUNATE to sit next to a very personable couple who were flying to New Zealand for vacation to stretch for 2 weeks. They were from San Diego and seemed to be very well traveled as I spoke about heading to Malaysia as a possibility, the gentleman had even played golf there once. This flight went by very well for me, I popped 2 ambien and slept for a maximum of about 2 hours some how? I just cannot get comfortable sitting up I guess, but oh well, i watched 4 movies along the way.
Check out the h20 and mountains

2XU compression(blood circulation)
 Upon arrival to Auckland, NZ, I said my goodbye's to my new friends. I had a 7.5hr layover so i attempted to leave the airport to explore the city but was unable to do so, because a baggage snafu with my bike and bag, which took almost 2hrs to clear up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

" Ladies and Gentleman, could you please refrain from leaving your seats and please make sure your belt is securely fastened!"

  "We will be experiencing some pretty rough turbulence for the next bit, everyone must stay in your seat and buckled, especially children please!!". When this is announced 4 different times in a 5 minute span and the pilot comes over head to say the final "SIT DOWN", it is what every passenger wants to hear. Perhaps we are about to go down in flames, the plane is already shaking a good bit as it is and there is more to come? I was comforted to remember the wise words of TrySports mechanic Rob Morgan, " the plane can land with one engine, if it makes you feel any better". The turbulence passed and I managed to read for a VERY brief period before trying to take a short nap while glancing out of my window seat.

  Unfortunately I am not able to provide this blog with pictures that I snapped along the flight and post flight, some of which are humorous. Thankfully I purchased some new headphones that block most outside noise and the rattling and shaking of our luggage just above our heads did not bother near as much as it would have otherwise. The flight as a whole was the most turbulent flight that I have been on in recent memory. As this would be my shortest flight at 5 hours and 30 minutes, I fully prepared myself as if this was a puddle hopper and it went by fairly quickly, surprisingly. I managed to sit next to a guy who had some ridiculously kicking breath and he never even talked to me, he mostly slept, that's some serious breath! There were a couple of kids just a few seats in front of me, they were hopping around and laughing, usually it would irritate me but I had the trusty Skull crusher headphones!

Traveling from Charlotte I made a few notes on my PC about long distance traveling in general after I enjoyed an oh so delicious gourmet Burger King $9 breakfast combo and my experience from Charlotte to LA.

  1. ·         As a favor to everyone, when I have children of my own I will not take them on flights just so people can enjoy their traveling experience. I am sitting out in the food court area of the Charlotte Douglas international airport and this baby is going buckwild while her parents are just eating away. I can’t imagine if they were on my 13 hr flight from LA to NZ, I may very well strangle someone.
  2. ·         Traveling with a mini notebook makes it much easier to fit your drink & snack on the tray while trying to navigate through your PC. I know firsthand as I have a seemingly HUGE Acer Laptop PC dwarfing my tray as I am walking a tight rope with my drink sitting on top of my ACER ready to fall over at any moment.
  3. ·         Noise deadening headphones have already helped my flight experience tremendously. The SKULLCANDY, “Skullcrusher” headphones I special ordered are working great minus the dead battery for my “amplified power bass boost”.
  4. ·         While checking my bag and Kuota K-factor Race bike at the kiosk, my grandmother accompanied me just to assist with all of my luggage(yes I said it but she is not just any ol grandmother!). She knows how I don’t always get the fine details and for such a lengthy trip, she wanted to make sure things went according to plan for me( thanks GRANNY!). While playing 20 questions with the ticket agent assisting me, somewhere in the mix they forgot to take my payment for my luggage! So far so good, Karma may finally be helping me out!  Cody’s expense for luggage and a bike = $600, Janna’s expense for luggage and a bike = $150, Chris expenses = $0.

After arriving into Los Angeles, I was trying to figure the appropriate terminal to head towards since I did not yet have a ticket from LA to Auckland, NZ. After making my way out of the terminal and down the street, I ended up at Air New Zealand's check in center. Only one problem there were about 25 people sitting on the benches and the floor waiting for the workers to come out. Initially I was thinking, "Did I miss the Air New Zealand strike somehow? am I stuck here? Sweet, to the beach!". Hey when you have lemons, make some kickin lemonade right? Long story short, I laid on my bags for about 40 minutes before we were able to check in. One of my bags was too big and too heavy so i had to check it last minute and actually pay the $50 fee! I tried asking about the Charlotte Running Club discount but apparently they had never heard of it. 

  As I checked this bag in the last second, i grabbed a couple things I wanted for the flight while numerous people waited behind me. I forgot about my blanket as well as my camera chord so that I could upload new photo's from each stop in my trip! Freakin A, oh well.  Once I was in the terminal, knowing I saved at least $150 on baggage and knowing I have a 10 hour layover, I was heading right to the VIP lounge

Stay tuned for pictures to follow this post, it will be so much more vivid as well as a short video of my wait for the "air strike".